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Film: Wasabi

A 2001 French-made action movie directed by Gérard Krawczyk, written and produced by Luc Besson and starring Jean Reno, Michel Muller and Ryōko Hirosue. In France it was released as Wasabi, la petite moutarde qui monte au nez ("Wasabi, the little mustard that gets right up your nose").

Cowboy Commissaire Hubert Fiorentini is, in his words, an average 47-year old dude who wouldn't hurt a fly. Unless said fly is a criminal. He's a damn good, if unorthodox cop, plays golf on weekends and has an attractive woman pursuing a relationship with him. But he can't get his old flame out of his head: Japanese government agent Miko, who he hasn't seen in 19 years. Everyone he knows is telling him it's time to move on.

One day Hubert receives a call from Miko's lawyer informing him of her death. He's invited to Japan for the reading of her will, as he's the only one she's left anything. When he gets there, he discovers two things. One, he has a 19-year old daughter by Miko, the bratty, fiery and independent Yumi. Two, Miko didn't die of natural causes. With the help of his Old Friend Momo, who still works in Japan for French Intelligence, Hubert must protect his daughter from some nasty Yakuza types while unraveling a series of clues Miko left to help Hubert find the truth.

Wasabi provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Averted with Yumi. She acts and talks big, but when out of the blue her dad starts shooting people, freaks out. Justfied, as until Hubert showed up she had an ordinary teenage life, with no knowledge of who her parents really were (not that she hadn't made a few educated guesses).
  • Badass: Hubert.
  • Big Bad: Takanawa, called "The Zebra" due to his facial scarring.
  • BFG: A couple of rocket launchers are seen, but never used. The same cannot be said for Hubert's massive revolver.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Of sorts. The money in question exists in a digital account rather then in a physical briefcase. It's a gift from Miko to her family, and the object of the Yakuza's pursuit.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Le Squale.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Hubert initally does not tell Yumi who he really is, and keeps trying to find the right moment. It doesn't help that A. She hates cops, and B. She was made to believe that her father had raped and subsequently abandoned her mother. The former is natural teenage behavior, the latter was a cover story to protect her from Miko's enemies. The right moment never does come, as Takanawa is the one to break the news to her, but by then Hubert and Yumi are on good terms anyway.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Momo brings two large cases full of various nasty guns and explosives to Hubert's hotel room. None of it actually gets used, since Hubert sticks to his magnum and the grenades all get accidentally detonated in the trunk of their car. At the very end of the film when Hubert gets on the plane back to France, Japanese cops show up with those two cases.
    Hubert: Oh no.
  • Cool Old Guy: Not that old, but Hubert is pushing fifty.
  • Cowboy Cop: Hubert.
  • Cry Cute: Yumi, who lets out her pent-up emotions once Hubert comes along and gains her trust.
  • Fiery Redhead: Yumi.
  • Genki Girl: Yumi comes off as this, but it is implied she acts that way to hide her insecurities.
  • Golf Clubbing: Hubert plays golf when he's not out kicking some ass, and takes on some Yakuza goons while armed only with some clubs and golf balls.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Lampshaded in the cover praise. The film is French-made, English-subtitled and set predominantly in Japan.
  • Guile Hero: Momo ends up being this, though it's not for lack of trying to shoot the bad guys. He just ends up being more help from behind the lines, such as calling in some favors with his foreign ops buddies to get Hubert some equipment. His personal crowning moment comes at the end, where he impersonates a bank clerk in order to get Takanawa to unknowingly transfer the 200 million into Hubert's account instead of Takanawa's.
  • Gun Twirling: Taken to the extreme after Hubert takes down a whole mob of Yakuza enforcers at an arcade. Cue the aghast face of one of Yumi's gamer friends, who had just challenged Hubert to a light gun game.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills/Improbable Weapon User: While talking to Da Chief and playing golf, Hubert notices a thug trying to steal the former's car. He foils the theft by hitting a golf ball across the course directly into the guy's head.
  • Insistent Terminology: Hubert hasn't seen Miko in 19 years.
  • Mexican Standoff: Happens twice. Once with some transvestite goons near the beginning, and again with the Yakuza at the end. Both times, Hubert successfully blasts out.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: "Quite possibly the greatest French-language, English-subtitled, Japanese action-comedy of all time." Right in the movie poster.
  • Papa Wolf: Hubert is not about to let anybody near his daughter, for whatever reason.
  • Red Light District: According to Momo, the Shinjuku area in Tokyo is this.
  • Retired Badass: Hubert worked for foreign intelligence before he was a cop. He hasn't lost his touch, as Momo is pleased to figure this out.
  • Running Gag: Whenever the length of time since Hubert last saw Miko is mentioned (which is often), someone generalizes twenty years and Hubert corrects them, saying it was nineteen.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: At one point Momo accidentially sets off an entire box of grenades, taking the car they were in the trunk of with them.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: In one scene at a Japanese Restaurant from which the film draws it's name, Hubert eats an entire plate of Wasabi without so much as flinching! Momo watches in astonishment and precedes to choke himself up after eating just a smidge of the stuff. In the ending, Momo hands him a box of it as a going-away present.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Yumi. Hubert takes her shopping and she buys loads and loads of outfits, and even puts on a fashion show for Hubert and Momo. This is actually a plot point! Miko intended for the 200 million in cash to be blown by Yumi, preventing the Yakuza from ever getting their hands on it.
  • Yakuza: A less threatening bunch than many other examples. Only their leader, Takanawa, seems at all competent. Until he tries to beat Hubert to the draw.
  • Yakuza Marksmanship Dojo: Not one good guy gets shot in this movie.

Voyage of the UnicornFilms of 2000 - 2004 Wet Hot American Summer

alternative title(s): Wasabi
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