Another Lonely Hitman [Shin kanashiki hittoman]

| February 5, 2005

Director Rokuro Mochizuki’s film is straightforward in its depiction of drugs, violence, and prostitution in this cockeyed noir adapted from Yukio Yamanouchi’s novel. Yamanouchi, once a layer for the Yakuza, is now a prolific writer of crime stories and manga in Japan. The story follows an ex-punk rocker’s release from a ten-year prison stint and subsequent downward spiral as Yakuza hitman. The world, inevitably, has changed, and Ishibashi has a difficult time adjusting. For him, the worst part is the changes in attitudes towards the Yakuza code. Ishibashi’s hitman is a quiet, watchful character most of the time. It is when his frustrations overwhelm him that we see explosive moments of unthinking violence. The world he once new is gone, replaced by streets bursting with drug addicts. This is reflected most strongly in his rehabilitating junkie-hooker girlfriend.
Another Lonely Hitman is jazzy blue cool, shot with icy filters and featuring a slow tempo storyline punctuated by hot jabs of intensity like Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew.” These moments of violence serve as a reminder of the world’s harsh realities, the demands required for any animal to survive in this man-made jungle. When he tries to make his own way through this gang-run world, it turns out to be the greatest challenge of his life. This includes helping his girlfriend go cold turkey off heroin and wiping out the drug dealers who have invaded his once respected gang. His bosses aren’t pleased with his high-handed morality, and try to put him in his place through the sensible thumping of a band of toughs. But our antihero is even more thick skulled than anyone could possibly imagine, and things escalate from there.
Another Lonely Hitman is late-’90s Japanese noir cool, with Mochizuki’s signature sense of something more meaningful lurking just under the surface. He again pulls a stunning performance from his lead actor, and we are left with a thought-provoking sense of this dirty underworld.
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