Saturday, October 18, 2014

HAMU - Kouan Keisatsu no Otoko

HAMU - Kouan Keisatsu no Otoko is a Takizawa Hideaki-led crime drama special that seems to have been conceptualized as a pilot than a standalone feature. The 2-hr show provides bits and pieces of information that tease audiences into believing that it's part of a bigger puzzle, when in all probability, it's either---a promotional stint to introduce a future series or a last ditch effort to revamp material already shot for an axed project. Essentially composed of a series of nested but unformed plot lines, the drama ends up raising more questions than it is capable of answering during its limited runtime. 

The special is about an ordinary cop named Natsuhara Shinji (Takizawa Hideaki) who, while in the midst of investigating a heinous crime, gets handpicked to join the public safety division. He soon discovers that the main suspect for the said crime (whom he has been instructed not to apprehend) has been under surveillance by the division for being their only lead to uncovering a terrorist plot to assassinate a foreign dignitary visiting the country.

While serving under the public safety division, Natsuhara is appalled by the tactics utilized by his superior, Serada Souma (Ozawa Yukiyoshi), and his team to further their mission, but is nevertheless persuaded to recruit and handle an asset (Toda Naho) when the trail goes cold.

Screenwriter Hachitsu Hiroyuki piles on one case and one mystery after another, coming up with a fair to middling plot that's typical to the genre. The linear timeline makes the show easy to follow but the incorporation of too many convenient twists represent the first of many problems to this special. Aside from the hammy portrayal of the modus operandi of homeland security agents that detract largely from the main drama, both the dialogue and execution of the action scenes are simply uninspired. And while it does try to provide some depth in discussing the professional and ethical issues inherent in the means employed by those tasked to protect national security, it's still miles away from being ever truly good. 

It would be a grave injustice to even refer to it as a poor man's Gaiji Keisatsu despite any perceived similarities in the issues or conflict presented. HAMU - Kouan Keisatsu no Otoko is too facile and laughable, and the fact that it takes itself too seriously when it is devoid of realism,  makes it almost unbearable to watch. Lines are often delivered at an urgent and argumentative tone, with Natsuhara displaying moral outrage for the majority of the show and Serada roughly pounding upon him the utter necessity of the actions taken to ensure the safety of their nation. It just lacks that cool, matter-of-fact delivery often expected of top brass that live by the maxim "the end justifies the means", thus making each confrontation between the characters an opportunity for over-the-top acting.  

The show also utilizes an unfortunate amount of second-rate foreign actors who were no doubt hired because their looks matched a certain ethnic profile and not because of their acting chops. It must likewise be noted that even though the special features a bunch of characters, played by familiar faces (e.g. Harada Natsuki, Kashiwabara Shuji, Jinnai Takanori),  they seem to have been randomly thrown in just to fill up the screen having been given very little to do, and over all, being neither interesting nor crucial to the story.

As a crime drama, it comes in many guises. The initial case involves a murder with the victim's corpse found dismembered, and then there's the primary case which is the ongoing investigation of the activities of the terrorist cell on Japanese soil. The special also delves into the personal lives of its characters, which in turn suggest a larger mystery or at least the beginning of a story arc for a series. For example, Natsuhara is shown to have suffered the loss of a loved one as a result of a violent crime without never knowing who committed it and why, while it's altogether made clear that his present boss had some hand in it. As for the extent of Serada's culpability and his motive behind getting Natsuhara to be a part of his team---the special never really got around to address it and from the looks of things, it never will, 


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