City Hunter

City Hunter
City Hunter
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Live-action adaptations can be hit and miss. There are few ways to depict the cartoonish, exaggerated, and physically impossible elements of animation in the real world with human actors. You also have to please existing fans while still being accessible enough for new viewers to enjoy it. There’s a lot going on here, but City Hunter (2024) is not the best introduction to the franchise’s lore.

City Hunter was born as a Tsukasa Hojo manga in 1985 and has seen numerous adaptations since then. It includes several anime series, a few movie adaptations (including one starring Jackie Chan), and a very popular K-Drama; however, a live-action version produced by Japan itself had never been made — until now. That’s where the 2024 Netflix release directed by Yûichi Satô comes in.

Ryo Saeba (Ryohei Suzuki) and Makimura (Masanobu Andô), his best friend and former police officer partner, are two guns for hire based out of Tokyo who agree to help a woman find her missing sister: Kurumi (Asuka Hanamura), a cosplayer. They find Kurumi and even save her from some thugs, but she keeps running away after refusing their offer to take her somewhere safe.

Makimura is killed later that night at a restaurant on Kaori’s birthday by a man with superhuman strength whom he was about to fight. This man is only the most recent person who has suddenly shown extreme violent tendencies beyond what any human should be capable of.

Kaori insists they work together when she sees Ryo isn’t planning on doing anything about Makimura’s murder or even finding out why he was killed in the first place. As they investigate further, they uncover a conspiracy involving illegal human experiments; Angel Dust, an unknown drug; Kurumi herself; and an evil organization known as XYZ.

The action scenes are definitely the best part of this movie. They’re fast-paced, well-choreographed fights that make Suzuki a believable action hero.

You can’t fault Suzuki’s performance — he’s great throughout. The comedy may not be very good, but it’s still charming because he makes even an insufferable character like Ryo more likable when he should be at his most unlikable. His best moments come during the more serious action scenes and some of the sadder parts too.

On the other hand, I would have to hate a movie for there to be any blatant misogyny in it worth mentioning in a review. But when it comes to unfunny jokes that should’ve died in some smoke-filled boardroom from the ’80s, City Hunter takes the cake. The original manga was a product of its time; this version is not.

When we first meet Ryo, he’s gleefully singing (yes, singing) about all the “babes in bikinis” he’s stalking from a rooftop. He also repeatedly refers to their client as “Miss Sexy Melons” and makes annoying high-pitched noises just because she happens to not have clothes on every time they see her or whatever.

While these are traits of an exaggerated wannabe playboy character that could successfully be played for laughs in both 30-year-old animes and mangas, it gets old after about two minutes of screen time here — especially given that movie Kaori can’t exactly pull out her giant hammer every single time Ryo says or does something incredibly inappropriate (even though said hammer does make an appearance).

However, this comedy action film only gets better in the second half. City Hunter (2024) finds its rhythm with slapstick and action by the third act while also telling a story.

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