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Bayside Shakedown 3:
Set the Guys Loose!
|     review    |     availability     |     also see      |

Eri Fukatsu, Atsushi Ito and Yuji Oda in Bayside Shakedown 3.
  Japanese: 踊る大捜査線THE MOVIE3ヤツらを解放せよ!  
  Year: 2010    
  Director: Katsuyuki Motohiro    
  Producer: Chihiro Kameyama    
  Writer: Ryoichi Kimizuka    
  Cast: Yuji Oda, Eri Fukatsu, Yusuke Santamaria, Toshiro Yanagiba, Shun Oguri, Atsushi Ito, Yuki Uchida, Kotaro Koizumi, Soichiro Kitamura, Takehiko Ono, Satoru Saito, Kyoko Koizumi, Kenta Satoi, Susumu Kobayashi, Masahiro Komoto, Shigemitsu Ogi, Susumu Terajima, Yutaka Matsushige, Koh Takasugi, Kenichi Takito, Naoki Kawano
The Skinny: Fan service for Bayside Shakedown fans but not so much for everyone else. Despite the series being long-in-the-tooth, this latest Bayside Shakedown film should easily please fans. Non-fans? Start with the first film or, better yet, the television series.
by Kozo:
Seven years away is a long time, but when you’re talking about the Bayside Shakedown crew, it's all good just so long as they eventually return. The heroes and heroines of the Wangan Police Station are back, fighting crime while dealing with bureaucracy, workflow, office politics and pesky minutiae that shouldn't be an issue when you're out there catching serial killers and mad bombers. But that's the bread-and-butter of the Bayside Shakedown franchise: average cops who convince as heroes through selfless teamwork and heart, and not through insubordination, psychic detective work or John McClane-esque hero play. It's easy to like these guys because they're everymen who respect others and try just a bit harder to do right. Plus they’re underpaid.

Audience goodwill already engaged, Bayside Shakedown 3: Set the Guys Loose! is an entertaining if overstuffed entry in the franchise, which has already seen a TV drama, numerous TV specials, 2 blockbuster films and finally 2 movie spin-offs. When you have that much beloved history, you either have to drop characters and storylines or stuff way too much in. Well, Bayside Shakedown 3 does both of those things, marginalizing some characters while offering numerous referential nods to the series history - and the filmmakers even add some new characters to hopefully bring the franchise into the future. Does that mean a Bayside Shakedown: The Next Generation movie will happen one day? You bet! But first, you have to finish watching this one. Oddly it's more of a chore than one would expect, given the usually affable nature of the franchise.

Set the Guys Loose! derives its cheesy subtitle from the film's "A" plot. A gang of young criminals steal some police firearms, and ask as ransom the release of numerous criminals, all of whom were arrested by Shunsaku Aoshima (Yuji Oda) during the course of the Bayside Shakedown franchise. This plotting allows for cameos by many former guest stars, with a larger role given to Kyoko Koizumi as Manami Hyuga, the enigmatic murderess from the first film. It’s not all nostalgia; new blood includes Atsushi Ito (Fish Story, TV’s Train Man), who shows up as Shijiro Waku, the nephew of former Senior Inspector Heihachiro Waku (the deceased Chosuke Ikariya), and he brings with him the senior Waku’s sage wisdom (via a passed-down notebook) and back trouble (both Wakus grab their ailing backs for comic relief). Joining Ito is Shun Oguri (Crows: Zero, Hana Yori Dango) as Seiichi Torikai, a stalwart if cynical Metropolitan Police liaison assigned to mediate any disagreements between the Wangan locals and the uptight Metropolitan Police.

The conflict between the local cops and the condescending big city forces has long been a series fixture – so much so that it’s not that riveting anymore. Luckily, director Katsuyuki Motohiro maintains the series’ trademark energy, the characters jumping from case-to-case and subplot-to-subplot as the film builds its new storyline. Newly-appointed section chief Aoshima is tasked with overseeing the Wangan Precinct’s office move when a rash of strange crimes occurs. But even with the multiple investigations proceeding, there are still subplots to spare. Shinji Muroi (Toshiro Yanagiba), Aoshima’s ally in the Metropolitan Police, spends his time in a Dr. Strangelovian war room battling bureaucracy, while regulars Sumire Onda (Eri Fukatsu) and Masayoshi Mashita (Yusuke Santamaria) putter around the offices with their own agendas. Aoshima has a couple of issues: a medical report says he has cancer, plus he’s lost his trademark ratty overcoat. Will Aoshima crack one final case before dying from an Asian Film Plot Device™? And more important, will he find his coat?

This is a commercial film, so the answers efficiently conform to audience expectation – which is bad for innovation but fine for entertainment. Bayside Shakedown 3 is fun in the early going, possessing the same energy and wit of the previous installments while also nimbly accounting for the passage of time. However, at a certain point the film grinds to a halt, with audience-pandering sentimentality smothering things. At the most critical point, the characters start making cathartic speeches or acting in a heroic and cheesy manner, and other characters just stand around watching because it’s oh-so-inspiring. This drop into sentimentality happens in the other Bayside Shakedown movies too, but not to this extended, interminable extreme. Then there’s the ending, where the Big Bad’s plans are revealed through massive exposition and then foiled easily before climaxing in a super slow-mo shot of somebody walking up a ramp. Because this is a sequel to an established brand, Motohiro gets tons of slack and yet he still manages to hang himself.

No matter. The Bayside Shakedown franchise has a huge following in Japan, so the initiated and the inclined will likely still be on board – overdone, super-sappy climaxes or not. There’s so much fan service here that any longtime fan of the brand will be tickled silly. Besides cameos by many of the film’s bad guys, side characters from the show and the movies also show up. Probably the biggest character not making an appearance is Miki Mizuno as officer Yukino Kashiwagi, though the filmmakers compensate by adding idol-singer Yuki Uchida as officer Natsumi Shinohara, who was a major character in a 1998 TV special but did not appear in the drama or films. Uchida is not a big part of Bayside Shakedown lore, and she played only a rookie in her lone series appearance, and yet twelve years later she’s here and running with the Wangan gang as if she’s always been working alongside them. It’s that type of dedicated fan service that makes Bayside Shakedown 3 hard to resist if you’re even marginally invested in the franchise. Non-fans will not be interested in this latest installment, but who needs them anyway? Not the makers of Bayside Shakedown. Or anyone who reads this, probably. (Kozo 2011)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Panorama Entertainment
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Japanese Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
Also see: Bayside Shakedown (1998)
Bayside Shakedown 2 (2003)
Bayside Shakedown 4: The Final (2012)
Negotiator: Mashita Masayoshi (2005)
The Suspect: Muroi Shinji (2005)
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image courtesy of Fuji Television Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen