Review: Films Set In Japan – Mastermind (1976)

No, this is nothing to do with the long running British quiz show and its challenging questions. Quite the opposite actually as this is anything but serious and is a light parody  about how Asian culture is perceived in the west. Most people have probably stopped reading this review already but I’ve started so I’ll finish!

This was actually filmed in 1969 and scheduled for release the following year but for whatever reason never saw the light of day until the mid seventies and lets be honest the world would have easily survived had it never come out!

Mastermind_(film) $(KGrHqN,!okE9mgm+JSvBPc7jZTS4w~~60_35

The whole movie was made and set in Japan albeit completely done in the film studios of Kyoto and it features some thinly veiled plot about stolen robot dolls and the bumbling Inspector Hoku Ichikawa (Zero Mostel) is on the case….kind of! Well, he is when he’s not having fantasies (shown in sort of flashbacks) about being a great Japanese samurai warrior and having a love interest who adhere’s to the stereotypical traits of a Japanese woman. These dream sequences are a throwback to the days of silent movies and subtitles are even shown to read their thoughts in a number of bizarre scenes.

A quite rapid 82 minutes of film passes by without too much of a plot and a bit of slapstick humour featuring some well-worn ideas (were they original back then?!) like Ichikawa being stood behind a buddha statue as the praying one believes he’s actually conversing with someone of greater power! Later on, there’s a classic old-school car chase although the transport Ichikawa uses is not exactly conventional. Charging into a room and the momentum taking the police through the Japanese paper walls did make me chuckle a bit as it was akin to something Homer Simpson would do many decades later in ‘The Simpsons‘ episode where the dysfunctional family come to Japan.

Mastermind‘ is a little Benny Hill-esque at times with the fast forward style of shooting used and the overall humour even seems a little out of place at times. Furthermore, what could have been a more suspenseful ending was dealt with a bit too quickly. The film is supposedly a spoof of western perceptions of Asian culture as presented by Hollywood not that I could really identify too much with this myself.

Tokyo Fox Rating 3/10

About tokyofox

A Leicester City fan teaching English in Japan
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