Tokyo Dragon Chef (VOD) – Review
Follow Genre: Action, Comedy, Musical
Director: Yoshihiro Nishimura
Distributor: Terracotta Distribution
Duration: 95 minutes

Tokyo Dragon Chef (VOD) – Review

Site Score
6.5
Good: A movie that clearly comes from a passionate heart
Bad: Misses some convincing story logic or acceleration at times
User Score
7.3
(3 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 7.3/10 (3 votes cast)

For some of us, there’s nothing as good to unwind to as a Japanese movie. Because the Japanese film industry has an.. interesting take to say the least when making cinema, you never truly know what to expect. This is especially true with a director such as Yoshihiro Nishimura, who normally makes absurd over-the-top content with an aftertaste of a stoner movie made in high-school. While Tokyo Dragon Chef is less over-the-top, it still clearly bears Nishimura’s mark.

Tokyo Dragon Chef is a story that starts centralized around two former gang members (Yakuza) named Ryu and Tatsu. While Tatsu just got released out of prison, Ryu put the gang member’s life behind him during the time being done by his old companion. As Ryu already turned his life around and got a flimsy food truck business by now, he tries to convince his ex-convict buddy to join him in this new style of life. This eventually succeeds, and from that point on the movie is about getting a successful ramen shop, while still bumping into the occasional issue from the past.

This is where the unexpected novelties and chaos take over, and director Yoshihiro Nishimura shows his brain once again. This of course includes trippy songs, Yakuza competing with ramen shops, and loads of cinematic shots that were clearly inspired by other cinema, from the more serious alternative cinema that’s reminiscent of Tarantino’s work to old school karate movies and such with rather poor fighting moves. No matter what you think of Nishimura, you can see in his movies that he absolutely loves film and that he tries to express this love on the screen one way or another. The upside to the randomness and novelties such as a comedic reflection on YouTubers helping ramen shops grow is that you will probably be entertained. The downside to all this chaos Nishimura brings with him while trying to create a coherent storyline, is that he tends to introduce elements to leave them standing on the sideline for a long time. This way it’s often unclear what the story really is about while watching, making the progression sometimes feel slow or not present at all.

Most of the movie is fun to watch. From the introduction of new characters such as Mimi, the alien-like YouTuber who can eat tons of food, to the typical Japanese humor and sometimes anime-like style, things are quite entertaining. There’s the expression of love for food, and how great it can be for people. Then there’s also fighting, but it feels a bit like watching the Power Rangers or a movie intended for kids. Combined with sound effects that sometimes feel cheap, you can sometimes even feel confused by the genre of the movie. Is it a comedy? Is it serious action? It’s a vague line that overlaps multiple genres with everything Tokyo Dragon Chef shows. The random musical songs added are just a bit of a trip but not really required to make the movie better, and it’s unclear why they are present at all. Tokyo Dragon Chef doesn’t commit enough to be weird like Nishimura’s previous works, so also in this direction, it’s a bit of a dead-end.

Eventually, Tokyo Dragon Chef is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get type of situation, and you’ll just have to deal with it. It feels like a movie where there is something to be found for everybody, and as it has some focus on jokes and a happy ending, this makes it easy to watch once you sense there is nothing to be dramatic or scared about. The cast is doing their best to stay serious and most of the characters are rather interesting. This in combination with the fact that at least parts of the story feel compelling enough to drag you in a bit, makes everything a pleasant experience. It’s just that the overall quality lies somewhere between an art-school student’s project and a professional film. It’s clear to see the love and the intention, but the flaws show as well. If anything, Nishimura probably has a chance to reach a certain cult standing among followers of his work rather than reaching i.e.Hollywood. Of course, this is fine, but there’s still something to be gained for him to get that little bit better, and for the audience to get a more enjoyable product.

Conclusion

Tokyo Dragon Chef is an alright story with loveable cinematic moments and characters. It’s a bit too poorly written to truly figure out if the movie has the intention of going in a certain direction to stick with it, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless. Just don’t dive into this movie expecting anything great. Instead, expect something to be surprised by and see the value of the intention and effort that director Nishimura put into this piece. Forgive the sometimes amateurish sound, writing, or acting, or embrace it all as its own genre that you might get to like or love.

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Rating: 7.3/10 (3 votes cast)
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Tokyo Dragon Chef (VOD) - Review, 7.3 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
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Find me on youtube to see some playthroughs! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuBrlulGywcb0EiYWBnA1ng

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