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Giri/Haji, BBC Two review - inspired Anglo-Japanese thriller makes compulsive viewing | reviews, news & interviews

Giri/Haji, BBC Two review - inspired Anglo-Japanese thriller makes compulsive viewing

Giri/Haji, BBC Two review - inspired Anglo-Japanese thriller makes compulsive viewing

Two worlds collide after synchronous murders in London and Tokyo

Takehiro Hira as Kenzo Mori, Will Sharpe as Rodney

Well here’s an interesting one. We’ve been up to our eyebrows in Eurocops for the past few years, but this Anglo-Japanese fusion from BBC Two (the title translates as "Duty / Shame") feels strikingly fresh and different.

It began, as policiers are inclined to do, with an untimely death. We saw a smartly-dressed Japanese man in a ferociously modern London apartment, pouring out a couple of whiskies. Somebody called on the entryphone. In the flash of an edit, he was a corpse on the carpet with a sword buried in his back, surrounded by CSIs in masks and white overalls, dusting for clues.

Signposted by Japanes/English captions, we rushed to Tokyo, where a man was eating a bowl of rice in a restaurant. To the accompaniment of louche lounge jazz, he was methodically machine-gunned in slow-motion, along with about nine other diners. Soon, the camera was introducing us to detective Kenzo Mori and his family. Crammed into his modest Tokyo flat with him are his wife, slightly stroppy daughter Taki and demanding aged parents. It will be Kenzo who eventually untangles this blood-soaked ball of string.

In short, it looks as if somebody is trying to reactivate the Yakuza gang wars which have been dormant for years. The corpses in the restaurant were members of the Fukuhara family. The London victim was the nephew of Endo, Fukuhara’s rival, and had been killed with Fukuhara’s sword. The Tokyo police, desperate to prevent a typhoon of mayhem, have sent Kenzo to London to search for answers. As Fukuhara himself put it, Zen-stylee, “someone threw a stone in a pond a long way away and we’re only just feeling the ripples.”

The plot fizzes deliciously, but there’s plenty more to savour. Screenwriter Joe Barton has a knack for the noir-ish one-liner, and Kenzo’s jet-lagged trawl through London’s West End was delightfully surreal. He rocked up to the Blue Posts pub in Berwick Street, where he had the great good fortune to chance upon the lurid half-Japanese rent boy Rodney (Will Sharpe, last spotted on Tuesday evening in Defending the Guilty). Shamelessly gulling the befuddled ‘tec out of 100 quid, Rodney took him to a club where the venerable Japanese owner spun him a yarn about a Yakuza assassin in London, illustrated with an anime-style sequence of lurid bloodletting.

As Kenzo, Takehiro Hira radiates a beguiling aura of coolness and fatalism, and flashback scenes in haunting black and white or narrow widescreen lend Giri/Haji a vaguely mythic dimension. Kenzo’s complicated relationship with his brother Yuto (Yosuke Kubozuka) – previously presumed dead, but suddenly not so much – looks set to simmer under the action like an unstable nuclear power plant. Of course they had to squeeze a few Brit actors in there somewhere, and assuredly we’ll be seeing much more of Kelly Macdonald’s DC Sarah Weitzmann (pictured above). She’s teaching the course in Crime Scene Management, attending which is Kenzo’s flimsy cover story for being in London.

“Is there a single thing I said that you didn’t know already?” she asked him, after the first class. “I didn’t know your last name was Weitzmann,” deadpanned Kenzo. “Come to the next one and I’ll tell you my middle name,” suggested Sarah. Cheeky.

Someone threw a stone in a pond a long way away and we’re only just feeling the ripples

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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