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Old June 27th, 2003, 11:50 AM   #1
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Sleepless Town (1998)

SLEEPLESS TOWN (1998) - Cheng Ngai Li's film set in the Chinese underworld community in Shinjuku is a tightly directed neo-noir featuring Takeshi Kaneshiro as a half-Taiwanese half-Japanese freelancer who is being pressed on all sides by factions who want to see him take sides. Playing a character similar to Tom Regan in Miller's Crossing, Takeshi Kaneshiro is a small-timer known to everyone, who is trying to rebuild his credit after his former partner skipped town but not before shooting a prominent gangster. When it is learned that his partner has returned under mysterious circumstances, he is given an order to find and kill him. His search is further complicated when he is contacted by a woman claiming to be his partner's girlfriend (the gorgeous Mirai Yamamoto). In good noir fashion, this complication becomes a source of sexual tension as he agrees to use her as bait.

Considering it is essentially a work for hire by director Cheng Ngai Li, Sleepless Town is a totally classy film filled with beautiful dreamy shots, wonderful personal scenes and a really steamy connection between the two co-stars. The neo noir formula has never worked quite so well as in the neon lit alleys, restaurants and rooftops of Shinjuku, even as the stereotypical Yakuza elbow their way through crowds or the pony-tailed Takeshi Kaneshiro pays his respects in crowded backroom mob hangouts.

Centered amongst the playful conventions of hammy, posturing criminals is the grinning but entrancing romance between Takeshi Kaneshiro and Mirai Yamamoto. Her nymph-like but cunning byplay slowly pulling together a more complex scheme draws in the gruff freelancer who is aware that he is being fooled. He falls in love with her because we can't but fall in love with her. The final act becomes a bit of a test for the viewer who has to sort out a jumble of characters and factions but the resolving scene, on a wharf with just the two co-stars embracing one last time under the eyes of the gangsters is a memorable, rich resolution.

The DVD from Poker Industries is non-anamorphic and the image quality is so-so. The extras include a handy chart showing the connections between the main characters and factions in the Chinese underworld. You may need it to make sense of the 'sorting out' of characters in the final act.

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Old June 27th, 2003, 02:14 PM   #2
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Thanks for that Keith. Sounds enticing, since film noir is my big weakness. But, unfortunately, my favourite DVD supplier (Play, tax exempt in the UK and ship to Switzerland, gotta luv'em) don't have it yet!

Cannot wait for it to come to R2 though.
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Old June 27th, 2003, 03:20 PM   #3
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This one appears to be all-region. It's also out of print so may be hard to find.
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