MAD CATS Review: Japanese Action Comedy Lands Jokes And Punches
Taka receives a cryptic message about his missing brother, Mune. The message plays out, ‘Infiltrate the captor’s lair, find his brother, steal a mysterious object, and don’t let anyone see you’. In capable hands, this might be a piece of cake but this is Taka, he is anything but capable. He fumbles the rescue attempt and is promptly hunted down by his brother’s captors,
Caught in flight with the mysterious object in hand Taka teams up with a vagrant named Takeza, and an edgy, mysterious young girl named Ayane. Together they take on a group of deadly women who call themselves the Mad Cats, a group hell-bent on executing corrupt pet shop owners. And by together we mean Ayane. Ayane takes them all on with furious intent. Taka and Takeza haplessly follow along, nothing more than ineffective observers to breakouts of fists and guns.
Mad Cats is a delightful action comedy, a simple story from writer/director Reiki Tsuno who makes his feature-length debut. Packed with brawls, chases, and gunfights there is no shortage of set pieces that are sure to impress action cinema fans. Complimenting those scenes is the quiet understated humor that we have come to expect from the Japanese. It is humor at a ten delivered at an energy level of about a content three. Mad Cats is stacked with laugh-out-loud moments due to the sheer absurdity in many moments and events throughout the story.
The terrific action is a mix of martial arts and gunplay with much of the effort put into the melees and brawling. For action enthusiasts, we are pleased to report that all the action is filmed very well, studiously framed, and wide open for everyone to see what is going on. The fight choreographer was Manfo Santo, whom we could not find any more information on in our brief search. Their assistant was Yasuko Tsuji who also has a role in the film as one of the Mad Cats, The Worshipper. They deserve to be singled out and noticed for their excellent work here.
The gunplay is cool but it is not a standout part of the action in this film. Japanese filmmakers have placed less emphasis on gunplay throughout their film history, a reflection of gun laws in Japan. In turn, this means that the Japanese like to speak more often with their fists and feet and we are all better for it. Mad Cats is a very ‘brawly’ film will each of the Mad Cats and Ayane doing all of their own action as well.
A recent film came to mind while watching Mad Cats and it is wholly appropriate to compare it to that. To give you an idea of what kind of film Mad Cats is, we would say with great affinity to this predecessor that it's a lot like Yugo Sakamoto’s 2021 film Baby Assassins. It is that same kind of small-budget, DIY action flick that features cool gunplay and even better brawling female heroes and villains.
It is not all brawling and hapless heroes, there is room for a sweet reunion in the end, one that we will leave as a nice conclusion to the story in Mad Cats. This one is about cats after all and we do love our cats around these parts. We are confident you will love Mad Cats as well.
(Mad Cats recently played at the Fantaspoa Film Festival in Brazil. It is in that context which we screend and reviewed this film)
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