Composer turned director Yoshihiro Hanno shows great promise with Paradise Next. It's not his first feature, but it is the first one that catches the eye of international audiences. There are traces of a true masterpiece here, sadly the film is just a little too inconsistent to give it a higher mark.
The film offers a pretty basic crime story, with two criminals trying to flee their destiny. They end up in Taiwan together and meet up with a local waitress. The three of them take a little road trip that becomes a transformative journey, but in the end they can't escape their own demons.
Performances are amazing, with Tsumabuki, Toyokawa and Nikki Hsieh (glad to see she's still around) doing stellar work. Hanno makes great use of the Taiwanese setting and the pacing is pleasantly lazy. Somewhat surprisingly it's the soundtrack that doesn't quite fit and trips up the otherwise great atmosphere. You'd think Hanno would've nailed that part, but in the end that's what keeps this film from becoming a true masterpiece. The potential is definitely there, so looking forward to his next film.