Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl

foreign films

Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl (鮫肌男と桃尻女)
Made in: Japan
Language: Japanese
Director: Katsuhito Ishii
Starring: Tadanobu Asano, Sie Kohinata, Susumu Terajima, Tatsuya Gashuin, Koh Takasugi
Year: 1998

Synopsis: Based on the manga (comic book) series of the same name. Meek and unassuming Toshiko (Sie Kohinata) works at a hotel owned by her sexually depraved uncle, Sorimachi (Koh Takasugi). She makes off with a backpack full of money, which she stole.

Distracted by the sight of a half naked man named Samehada (Tadanobu Asano) as he frantically runs along a country road, Toshiko inadvertently rams her SUV into a car full of wacky yakuza members led by boss Sawada (Susumu Terajima). The yakuza were on their way to kill Samehada, but the collision obviously thwarted their plan.

Samehada, who's also on the lam with stolen cash, teams up with Toshiko and the two end up bonding. But more trouble brews when Sorimachi sends a bizarre assassin named Yamada (Tatsuya Gashuin) to bring Toshiko back.

The Good: The first 1/3 of Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl (a more accurate translation would be "peach ass") is pretty entertaining. The characters seem fascinating at first, the action is clever, and the editing is pretty slick. Tadanobu Asano, who went on to play young Ghengis Khan in Mongol, is a cool, charismatic actor.

But keep in mind, this held true only for the first 1/3 of the film...

The Bad: The remaining 2/3 of the movie is uneven, and many scenes simply drag on as the viewer asks the question: "What the hell?" with greater frequency. The wacky characters try way too hard to be funny, and most of the time they just came across as annoying. Especially irritating is Tatsuya Gashuin's character, Yamada, who's about as tolerable as Jar Jar Binks.

The whole thing just came across as a failed Quentin Tarantino imitation with a professional budget. From a reviewer's perspective, Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl is definitely one of those foreign films that I dread discovering.

Who would like this movie: I'd recommend that you stay away from this one, unless you're familiar with the manga series. Just by watching, you can pretty much tell that the film's been adapted from something.

But it gets lost in its own quirkiness, becomes boring in a hurry, and ends up being the cinematic equivalent of an inside joke that only a handful of people in the world will get.

(2 out of 4 stars)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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