With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

SMOKEY & THE BUSHIDO - DEKOTORA 2 now available on DVD

Switchblade Pictures
Smokey & the Bushido - Dekotora 2 / Dekotora Gal Nami 2
Directed by Hideo Jôjô
Japan, 2008, 76 minutes

Nami is back again! Yep, that hard-drivin' trucker from Big Bad Mama San is haulin' ass in another adventure. The single disc DVD of Smokey & the Bushido - Dekotora 2 is available today from Switchblade Pictures.

Ayano (left) and Nami prepare to do battle

This time around Nami, again played by Akiho Yoshizawa, has a run in with a figure from her past. Ayano (played by single-moniker actress Asami) was the head of a girl gang at North High at the same time Nami headed a rival gang from West High. The film begins with a black and white flashback (or perhaps it's a dream) of them going at one another on an isolated beach. In a marvelous transition, the film switches to color and the film's present where Nami is sleeping in her track in a parking lot near where the face-off took place. (I can't praise this transition enough, it's so smartly done, a real piece of imaginative and intelligent film-making.)

Nami (left) is confronted by Ayano while other truckers look on

In the here-and-now of the film, Ayano is now a cop and she busts Nami for vehicular violations. Nami's license is temporarily suspended and she has to do roadside cleanup as community service. Fortunately Kikuo (identified as "Loverboy" in the credits and again played by Mustuo Yoshioka) is once again available to help her out.

Ayano (right) insists that the madam of Misako's Room cooperate with her investigation

But Ayano is involved with more than just harassing Nami and other truckers. She's independently investigating serious criminal activities that took the life of someone who greatly mattered to her. These activities include not just drug smuggling, but also prostitution and organ trafficking. And Ayano uses a trick to get Nami to indirectly help her by performing -- of all things -- baby-sitting duties! Of course, no self-respecting kick-ass trucker like Nami is going to remain on the sidelines, so she and Kikuo wind up directly involved in the big take-down.

Nami's dekotora or decoration truck

Like Big Bad Mama San, Smokey & the Bushido is helmed by Hideo Jôjô, and for my money, he's done an even better job with this sequel than in the fine original film. (The English title obviously is a reference to Hal Needham's 1977 Smokey and the Bandit, which starred Burt Reynolds, and its two sequels.) I've already mentioned the terrific transition at the beginning of the film. The obligatory sex scenes are a cut above those in the first one. And the script, which Jôjô co-wrote with Ryo Chris Kaihara, is also a bit more sophisticated this time around.

The disc offers both an original Japanese language soundtrack (with English subtitles) and and English dubbed version. The subtitles are usually in easy to read yellow, but sometimes they are white to make it clear that another character is speaking. Nice touch. Special Features are limited to the original Japanese trailer, some trailers of other offerings from Switchblade Pictures, and DVD credit information.

ACF Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; highly recommended as a superior film for its type. It has action, humor, and nudity in a surprisingly well-crafted package. Here's hoping that Switchblade will also be putting out the next entry in the series, Banzai Express! Personally I can't wait to watch more of Nami and her highly decorated truck.

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