Moon Angel (Japan 1996)

Rating: **
Review Date: 6/9/12
Cast: Shizuka Kudo

A bizarre look at Japanese trucker culture featuring Japanese pop idol Shizuka Kudo as a tough ex-marine, ex-racecar driver who is now in the trucking business. She, along with everyone else, drives a gaudy rig decked out in chrome, neon, blinking lights, and horrible airbrushed fantasy art. Her truck is actually adorned with laughably awful portraits of naked women for reasons I cannot fathom, and the film loves to linger on extended beauty shots of this hideous beast. When Runa's sister falls victim to a gang of Russian con-men, revenge is right around the corner. You do NOT mess with a woman's truck, no matter how ugly it may be. The last ten minutes of the film erupt into an unexpected martial arts brawl, which is surprisingly well done for a Japanese production.

The film looks good, but the pacing is challenging and the story is bland and completely uninteresting. Shizuka Kudo is gorgeous and fun to watch, but her orange hair and purple lipstick are a constant distraction and don't do her any favors. The majority of the action in the film involves trucks racing and chasing each other, which isn't very interesting. And like every Japanese car chase I've ever seen, they make it a point to show the driver flip their foot sideways so they can press the gas and the brakes at the same time. I have no idea what this ridiculous maneuver is supposed to do, but the Japanese seem obsessed with filming this shot. The acting is decent enough, but the whole tone is overwhelmingly family friendly. It's not a bad film, but it can certainly be tedious to sit through.