‘The Violence Action’ on Netflix: A Live Action Manga With Flying Bodies and Bullets

‘The Violence Action’ on Netflix: A Live Action Manga With Flying Bodies and Bullets

The Violence Action, based on the continuing manga series by Shin Sawada and Renji Asai, is directed and co-written by Toichiro Ruto and stars Kanna Hashimoto as a college student who doubles as a contract killer. Hashimoto is a veteran of the Japanese idol group Rev. from DVL, and Violence also features Yu Shirota and Yuri Ota, who’ve both done time in girl groups and boy bands. Here, though, everyone is in bullet ballet mode as their assassins’ creeds are put to the test.

Kei (Kanna Hashimoto), a university student, is studying accountancy and is becoming quite proficient. However, she also possesses a more lethal skill set, as the hapless thugs who abducted an actress discover the hard way. With precise kicks, well-timed punches, a concealed blade in her school bag, and firearms turned on their owners, she makes mincemeat of four or five or six assailants without upsetting her snappy pink bob and sweater ensemble. As the chief assassin for a tiny crew that includes “The Shopkeeper” (Fumika Baba), histrionic driver Zura (Takashi Okamura), and contemplative, bowl-cut Watanabe (Oji Suzuka), who joined after following his crush one day after school, Kei’s anonymity is one of her most potent weapons.

There is discord at the top of the city’s most powerful yakuza clan, the Denma-Gumi. Boss Sandaime (Jiro Sato) faces a succession threat from top lieutenant Kinoshita (Katsunori Takahashi), who has been plotting a coup by embezzling millions from the Denma-legitimate Gumi’s commercial operations with the assistance of corporate slave Ayabe (Shunsuke Daito). And Terano (Yosuke Sugino), a reluctant yakuza and financial manager, is aware of the balance sheet fraud. He’d sooner leave the gang totally than warn the unpredictable but vicious Sandaime, but bullets start flying before Terano can make a move, and he’s caught in the middle of a typical power struggle.

So is Kei, who had an innocent moment with Terano on the bus before one of them knew of the other’s murderous employers. Wanted by both Sandaime and Kinoshita when she lays waste to opposing gangs of their henchmen, Kei is sought by the Denma-Gumi’s own top assassin, the quirky but absolutely deranged Michitaka (Yu Shirota) (Yu Shirota). If she can hold her cool long enough to free Terano from his supervisors and avoid Michitaka’s nail gun, she may have time to complete her bookkeeping courses. To do this, she will require assistance from Zura, Watanabe, and Daria (Yuri Ota), a new sniper-rifle-capable teammate.

Image: Netflix

Which films does it remind you of? Kanna Hashimoto is no stranger to carrying firearms and indulging in yakuza violence; she starred in the 2016 films Sailor Suit and Machine Gun: Graduation. Violence Action has more than a scent of Takashi Miike’s work, namely the 2019 film First Love. And for an even bloodier take on the odd assassin themes of Violence, check out The Villainess, a 2017 South Korean action film.

Performance Worth Observing: In the film’s quieter moments, Kei and Fumika Baba as the leader of her murder team and Takashi Okamura as the idiot Zura are able to develop a genuine relationship. The film does not devote sufficient time to developing these connections. However, Fumika and Okamura effectively stand in for Kei’s unseen and unknown biological family.

Quote to Remember: “Seriously? You’re an assassin?” Throughout The Violence Action, Kei’s classmates ask this question when they see her bright pink bob cut behind her blade or the barrel of a rifle, both of which are periodically stowed in her school backpack.

Sex and Skin: Nothing more than a few wistful glances from the bashful Watanabe, who is head over heels for Kei, and the assassin and Terano’s budding romance.

Our View: The Violence Action takes literally the phrase “live manga adaptation.” The kooky sound effect that activates whenever someone hits Zura’s oversized pompadour toupee/crash helmet, which occurs frequently; Kei’s gravity-defying acrobatics as she dodges the bullets and bats of hapless thugs; and Michitaka’s unrelenting weirdness and unstoppable killing abilities are all examples of the world Violence creates, which is superficially real but primarily a fantasy reflection of its And by the time Kei and Michitaka engage in the battle you always knew was coming, it’s depicted as a “choose your fighter”-style flurry of fists, twirls, and pirouettes, with the film stock morphing to resemble a video game screen.

Kei is so proficient at eliminating hordes of loud-shirted yakuza goons that the organization’s upper management must pause to investigate her motives. Is this all she enjoys, murdering their nameless subordinates? But The Violence Action leaves Kei little opportunity to respond. It is disheartening that we are never shown even a sliver of her past, such as who her ancestors were or how she entered this world. She ponders this occasionally, such as over ice cream sundaes with her employer following yet another bloody assignment. “Change is acceptable, and all things must come to an end.” But Violence never completely examines Kei’s inner life’s stopping cues, leaving them as remnants against the film’s primary thrust of delighted bullet ballets.

Our Request: STREAM IT. Manga aficionados will like the look and feel of The Violence Action, which settles into a sweet place between between realism and fantasy and then blasts the entire thing apart with lopsided fistfights and progressively ridiculous gunplay.

Johnny Loftus is an independent writer and editor living at large in Chicagoland. The Village Voice, All Music Guide, Pitchfork Media, and Nicki Swift have published his work. Follow him on Twitter: @glennganges

 

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