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The Triumphant General Rouge
The Triumphant General Rouge

Hiroshi Abe and Yuko Takeuchi in The Triumphant General Rouge.


Year: 2009
Director: Yoshihiro Nakamura  

Yoshihiro Nakamura, Saito Hiroshi


Hiroshi Abe, Yuko Takeuchi, Masato Sakai, Michiko Hada, Taro Yamamoto, Shihori Kanjiya, Toshinori Omi, Masanobu Takashima, Sei Hiraizumi, Jun Kunimura, Yoko Nogiwa, Shiro Sano, Tetsuji Tamayama, Yasufumi Hayashi

The Skinny: Like its predecessor, The Triumphant General Rouge is an entertaining medical thriller. Also like its predecessor, the film is so glossy and commercial that it starts to feel cheesy. Featuring the always-entertaining Hiroshi Abe.
by Kozo:

If you couldn’t get enough of smarmy health ministry official Keisuke Shiratori (Hiroshi Abe) and endearing hospital therapist Kimiko Taguchi (Yuko Takeuchi), then The Triumphant General Rouge is for you. The investigative duo from the hit medical thriller The Glorious Team Batista returns for yet another medical thriller. However, this time the mystery is a rather slight one, and is merely a hook for larger issues concerning medical funding and hospital politicking in Japan.

Whereas Team Batista dealt with numerous murders in the operating room, General Rouge concerns malfeasance in the purchasing department - plus another possible murder. An anonymous tip fingers maverick emergency room honcho Koichi Hayami (Masato Sakai of Afterschool) as supposedly getting kickbacks from supply company Medical Arts. Because Hayami is talented and smug, he’s got a host of enemies at the hospital who’d like to see him ousted.

During her investigation, Taguchi learns of Hayami’s reputation as “General Rouge”, a nickname he received ten years prior during a terrible emergency, when he commandingly accepted more patients into ER than the doctors could handle. That incident revealed Hayami’s holier-than-thou professional character, and it also laid the groundwork for years of political maneuvering and executive backbiting around the hospital.

The current regime at the hospital is looking to divert their funding towards lucrative new treatment like psychotherapy rather than dealing with the common problems like, oh, emergencies and accidents. Hayami is the naysayer of the bunch, but the charges against him could mean the end of his ER command. When a Medical Arts salesperson turns up dead from a supposed suicide, the case becomes even darker. How does the smug Hayami fit into this web of corruption and death, and is his ardent professionalism just a smarmy smokescreen for greedy bribe taking?

General Rouge possesses star power to spare. As the smarmy Shiratori, Hiroshi Abe showboats entertainingly, and Takeuchi provides warm comic relief as the well-meaning Taguchi. However, both characters have little actual development, and are really movie character types playing witness to the melodramatic hospital shenanigans. In the key role of “Master of the ER” Hayami, Masato Sakai exudes a confident, super-cool charisma that's as engaging as it is sometimes cartoonish. Smaller roles are inhabited by a variety of familiar faces, with fans getting a couple of cameos referencing the previous film.

Like Glorious Team Batista, Triumphant General Rouge is a very commercial film, going for showy character flourishes, occasional moments of overacting, and staging that's right out of a television drama. All the big conflicts come to an eventual head in a boardroom showdown where characters clap sarcastically, swivel around dramatically in office chairs, and generally behave in an unrealistic manner. Director Yoshihiro Nakamura has skills with clever narratives (like his recent Fish Story), but he doesn’t do much to lift the earnest commercial banality of Team Batista or General Rouge.

Then again, Japan is the king of earnest, well-meaning cinema, so it’s hard to knock a film with such shining good intentions as General Rouge. Narratively, the film is conventional, serving up a minor mystery, standard characters and themes, and a climax that’s both rousing and hackneyed. Yet another mega-accident occurs, leaving the hospital staff to either bicker internally or band together for one big “We’re doctors, dammit!” push. Honestly, which of the two outcomes do you expect to occur? And how can you dislike a movie where medical health professionals are so maddeningly well-intentioned?

Expected outcome aside, The Triumphant General Rouge does earn points for shedding some light on the unglamorous world of hospital politics, with its cynical machinations and bottom line manuevering. This is interesting and even relevant subject matter, and though General Rouge handles it all in a glossy and commercial manner, it’s still there, buried beneath the TV drama trappings. Anyway, even if learning about Japanese hospital politics is not to your liking, you may be still interested in the reason behind Hayami’s nickname, “General Rouge”. Rumor has it that it’s because he was once bathed in blood during the emergency ten years ago, but the film reveals another, far more entertaining possibility. Think cosmetics. (Kozo, Reviewed at the Udine Far East Film Festival, 2009)

Availability: DVD (Japan)
Region 2 NTSC
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Japanese Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS
Removable English Subtitles
Various Extras

image courtesy of Tokyo Broadcasting System Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen