Finally! It was an extremely long wait before I could watch Takashi Miike's The Mole Song: Hong Kong Capriccio [Mogura No Uta: Hong Kong Kyoso-Kyoku], the sequel to Miike's own The Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji. I really loved that one back then, sadly an English-friendly release never materialized itself for this follow-up. But good things come to those who wait and not too surprisingly, Hong Kong Capriccio didn't disappoint in the slightest.
Hong Kong Capriccio takes off where the first film left off. Not that it matters a whole lot, this is one of those trademark wacky Miike films, which don't particularly answer to common logic. Five minutes in a bunch of yakuza henchmen are being roasted over a big fire while another group of gangsters is doing a happy folk dance around them. By that time it should be clear for the audience that there's little else to do but put yourself in Miike's hands and let yourself be swept away by his follies.
It's the start of a film that seems to go wherever it wants to go, always a clear sign that you're about to watch one of Miike's better films. If its his more serious, more down-to-earth stuff you're after, better turn around because you're really not in the right place here. Hong Kong Capriccio is a constant onslaught of weird, kooky and nonsensical moments that are rendered with such fun and enthusiasm that it's almost impossible not to get caught up in the vibe of the film, then again it's not going to be everyone's cup of tea.
The story ... well. Agent Reiji goes deeper underground and becomes the personal bodyguard of Todoroki, the big chief of the Sukiyakai gang. Things get a bit messy when Todoroki's daughter falls for Reiji, but gets kidnapped under his watch. The ones behind the kidnapping are the Dragon Skulls, a Chinese crime syndicate that is looking to settle their conflict with the Todoroki gang once and for all. They threaten to sell Todoroki's daughter off at some auction if he doesn't step down, but Todoroki isn't willing to budge and sends Reiji to the auction to solve his problem.
Visually there is a lot to admire here. It's extremely rare to see a bonkers film like this get such a big budget and Miike really makes the most of it. Sure enough, some of the CG is still a little shoddy (like the tiger), but at least it's always functional and it always adds something extra to the film. Cinematography, lighting and color work are all top notch though, painting the entire film in a warm and rich glow. Add some superb animated scenes and some grand settings and you get a true visual spectacle.
The soundtrack is not up to par with the visuals, but that was to be expected. Apart from a pretty hilarious theme song, the music just fills some quiet gaps and supports whatever is happening on screen. It's really not a bad soundtrack, it's just another one of those completely inconspicuous selections of music which are there simply because it's expected for a film to have at least some music in it. While it doesn't let the rest of the film down, I do feel that Miike neglects the chance to add another layer of comedy to the film.
As for the cast, many familiar faces return for Hong Kong Capriccio. Toma Ikuta and Shin'ichi Tsutsumi take the lead again, Ken'ichi Endo and Riisa Naka sign up for solid secondary parts. Tsubasa Honda and Arata Furuta are the new names that stand out the most. For a film like this you need a cast of actors who dare to make fun of themselves and that's exactly what they are doing here. They give their all, even (and especially) in the scenes where they have to do some extremely silly stuff.
128 minutes is pretty long for a comedy, then again there's also a lot of material to go through. As opposed to some of Miike's older films, there aren't any sequences that are unnecessarily dragged out or slow down for no apparent reason. It's just one steaming train of craziness that hurtles itself forward from start to finish. There's enough variation, both in style, comedy and setting to prevent this film from ever becoming boring, but you do have to be down with Miike's particular sense of absurdity to enjoy it.
Hong Kong Capriccio is a successful sequel to Undercover Agent Reiji. It's more of the same of course, just 130 minutes of that same fun, entertaining and surprising comedy that makes Miike films such unique experiences. There's enough material left for a third film, so fingers crossed that Miike turns this into a full-on trilogy. Getting your hands on Hong Kong Capriccio may still be a challenge, but if you're into Miike's work it's well worth the hassle.