FANTASTIC FEST 2013 MOVIE REVIEW – ‘KID’S POLICE’ & ‘HENTAI KAMEN: FORBIDDEN SUPERHERO’

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How long can a single joke be stretched before it finally snaps? That’s a question asked by two films by Japanese madman Yuichi Fukuda premiering at this year’s Fantastic Fest: Kid’s Police, in which a law and order squad gets turned into prepubescent crime fighters, and Hentai Kamen: Forbidden Superhero, the tale of a superhero who runs on “pervert power”. One film gets surprising mileage out its single best gag, the other…well, not so much.

In Kid’s Police, the best and brightest of the Japanese national police force is gathered to form the Special Investigations Division to take down the all-powerful crime syndicate known as “Red Venus”. As comic book style exposition efficiently informs us during the opening credits, the S.I.D. is  briefly hindered by Red Venus via a gas that transforms them into 10 and 11-year-old kids. Not that it fully stops the squad — they may now look like children, but they still think and fight like adults (except on the few occasions where their less-than-mature primal instincts to play kick in) and set out to bring down Red Venus once and for all (and maybe get an antidote in the process) when an assassination threat is levied against the President’s life.

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Most of the humor derives from the sight of child actors enacting the kinds of clichés you associate with cop movies and TV shows, particularly those of the ’70s variety. All the stock characters are here — the hotheaded, the punk, the hardboiled, heroic boss who’s always one step ahead of the game even as he nurses a drink at the bar — and there are enough twists, turns and reversals to fill an entire season of a tv show (not surprising: it was a TV show in Japan) Despite the one note nature of the joke — watch kids play 70s-era police clichés!– Fukuda manages to wring plenty of laughs from the sight of detectives forced to stand on both sides of their de-aged divide, fighting crime on one hand while forced to also attend primary school on the other. A grating subplot in which the most serious and booksmart of the crew is forced to attend auditions for film drama by his shrilly overacted faux parents drags and the episodic nature of the script sometimes kills the films momentum, but Kid’s Police is worth watching, even if its just for the brilliant recurring gag involving the chief’s continuously stunned reactions to events.

Once you get the central joke of Hentai Kamen, however, you pretty much get what it’s going for. Unfortunately, you’ll get it pretty quickly and then have to sit through 105 endless minutes of having it beaten into your head ad nauseam. After the film’s best gag, which spoofs the Marvel logo (when the best joke is the very first thing you see, you know you are in trouble), we are introduced to a world where a wimpy student  named Kyosuke can become the powerful pervert superhero Hentai Kamen whenever he straps a pair of used girl’s panties over his head, a power derived from the hidden “pervert DNA” that resides inside him courtesy of his dominatrix mother. Kyosuke takes to the streets in nothing but a thong man-kini that leaves nothing to the imagination to fight crime, protect his beloved Aiko and keeps his school from getting taken over by a gang of villainous transfer students.

HENTAI KAMEN- FORBIDDEN SUPERHERO

The one single joke that Hentai Kamen: Forbidden Superhero employs for most of its runtime is simply this: Kyosuke frets about whether he is normal or perverted, Aiko frets about why she is attracted to Hentai Kamen and Hentai Kamen defeats his enemies by shoving his crotch in their face. Literally, when the panties are on, Kyosuke’s bethonged balls become invincible weapons that incapacitate his enemies any time they make contact with face. And thus we get lots…and lots…and lots of closeups in which actors smoosh their heads right into Kyosuke’s crotch. It’s rudely funny the first time, but grows wearying every single time it’s employed. Funny at first, you can actively sense the energy seeping from the film as Fukuda spins his wheels, bashing you with the same like a hyperactive comedian who desperately wants you to “get it.” As Hentai Kamen grinds on, a strange gay panic begins to overtake the film as exhaustion begins to set in.

Fukuda is cinematic equivalent of a novelty comedian with a limited repertoire of jokes. With Kid’s Police he finds one he can still mine endless variations on for humor; with Hentai Kamen, he merely tells you the same joke over and over until you cry uncle. With his next movie, hopefully he can learn a few new gags to tell.

Kid’s Police: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Hentai Kamen: Forbidden Superhero: 2 out of 5 stars

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About Author

Johnny Donaldson

Johnny Donaldson is an actor, writer, foodie, and raconteur who’s been immersed in the geek world since childhood, especially when The X-Files changed his life. (Fox Mulder is his Han Solo.) A published film critic (his college-era movie reviews can be found in the archives of rottentomatoes.com) and a film producer with two films under his belt, Johnny likes kitty cats, coffee, the color purple (not the movie, the literal color purple), dark microbrews and good horror/scifi/fantasy and superhero movies. And occasionally long walks on the beach, when it’s not too hot.