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BAYSIDE SHAKEDOWN
PRODUCTION NOTE STORY CHARACTER BACKGROUND
CAST & STAFF WHAT CRITICS SAID ABOUT REVIEW
WMPREAL
PRODUCTION NOTES

aIt is a detective story set among the Japanese police who is laboring under a corporate system. Problems of hierarchy, jurisdictional disputes, influence-peddling, "nemawashi", interference from the parent "company", pride, and discrimination - various foibles of Japanese society are depicted with humor and irony. Aoshima, quit his job as a computer company salesman to become a traffic cop, and was then promoted to criminal investigator. Aoshima eagerly anticipates his first homicide case, but he arrives to find the reins of the investigation firmly in the grasp of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). In fact, as a lowly detective from the local precinct, he isn't even allowed to approach the scene of the crime. Aoshima, who hates feeling like a cog in the system, quit his computer company job because he thought that "Every day my life is the same boring routine, no excitement." Ironically enough, he now realizes that, as a detective, he is suffering the same fate. "Bayside Shakedown" focused on Aoshima, near the bottom of the hierarchy in his local police station, and his diametric opposite, Senior Superintendent Muroi, a typical elite police bureaucrat and member of the National Police Agency "career track group". These two opposite overcome their difference in status and learn to understand each other, creating bonds of friendship and trust to make something big.

You may notice one scene tribute great filmmaker Akira Kurosawa which is styled as an homage to his work "High and Low". This was greatly helped by the fact that among the art department there was a set designer who had actually worked on the Kurosawa film.

STORY

In the Bayside Precinct, the body of a drowned person bearing the evidence of crude surgery sewn up with embroidery thread is discovered. When a teddy bear is found in the victim's stomach during the postmortem, the police realize that they have a bizarre murder case on their hands. The investigation turns up evidence that the victim was a suicidal internet addict. Bayside Assistant Police Inspector Mashita and the policewoman Yukino start investigating a "virtual murder" homepage the victim had often visited, in search of clues.

At the same time, a string of petty thefts is plaguing the Bayside Station Criminal Investigation Section: a watch, a purse, and receipts that Aoshima hadn't yet reported are among the missing items. Suddenly, a swarm of helicopters and undercover cars from the Metropolitan Police Department descend on Bayside Police Station. It turns out Bayside Precinct has suffered yet another serious crime: the kidnapping of the Commissioner of the MPD. The MPD moves swiftly to silence the mass media and set up a special investigation headquarters at the Bayside Police Station.

The MPD staff who man the special investigation team refuse to allow any participation from Bayside staff members. Aoshima's job is to catch the culprit of the bizarre murder, as well as the thief who stole his receipt, but he desperately wants to be involved in a "big-time case" (the kidnapping). He is completely ignored, however, by Senior Superintendent Muroi of the National Police Agency Criminal Investigation Bureau. Since no information is reaching the Bayside Police Station staff from the MPD special investigation headquarters located under their noses, Bayside Inspector Waku undertakes his own inquiry into the kidnapping. It turns out that Waku and the Commissioner had once been colleagues.

A bizarre murder, petty theft, the kidnapping of an important personage: what sort of culprits can the investigation possibly turn up? And what lies in the future of Detective Aoshima, who always seems to find himself tangled up in major crimes? The most horrible three days in the entire history of the Bayside Police Station have only just begunc.

BAYSIDE SHAKEDOWN
Japan's Domestic Box Office is more than US $100 Million. (as of March 15, 1999)

CHARACTER BACKGROUND

Shunsaku AOSHIMA (Yuji ODA)
Police Sergeant - Criminal Investigation Department, Bayside Precinct
Having worked as a salesman for a computer company for about three years, he changed career to become a detective to find more exitement and independence. He soon became disillusioned to realize that the same hierarchy of unquestioning obedience is in operation in the police force, just as it is in the corporate world. However he keeps working hard at his job, always with the hope of bringing about a change in this rigid structure at some point. In his spare time, he is a collector of replica weapons and also maintains a keen interest in computers.

Shinji MUROI (Toshiro YANAGIBA)
Deputy Superintendent - Criminal Investigation Bureau, National Police Agency
Whilst Aoshima struggles to bring justice to the streets, Muroi is a career cop who works among the elite bureaucracy to try and bring about a supportive working environment for those cops on the beat. He is constantly having to reconcile his high ideals with the disappointing reality of the unbending hierarchy of the Japanese police system.

Sumire ONDA (Eri FUKASU)
Police Sergeant - Larceny Department, Bayside Precinct
A tough and stubborn colleague of Aoshima, she is a hard-working cop who tackles all cases with equal importance, no matter how trivial. When work is done, there is nothing she likes more than a steaming bowl of noodles. Although no one is quite sure why, she possesses a mean drop-kick.

Heihachiro WAKU (Chosuke IKARIYA)
Inspector - Bayside Precinct
After retiring from active duty on the beat, he now plays the role of advisor to the junior detectives. Although he is constantly said to be a bit out of touch and his investigative techniques is a little old-fashioned, he is an important mentor figure to Aoshima, Sumire and others. The paring of Aoshima and Waku might put some people in mind of the two detectives from Kurosawa's film "Stray Dog".

Yukino KASHIWAGI (Miki MIZUNO)
Police Officer - Criminal Investigation Department, Bayside Precinct
Losing the power of speech after the shock of her father's murder, she recovered with the encouragement of Aoshima who was supervising detective on the case. She went on to pass the Police Academy exams and became a traffic cop; With all her studies behind her, she has now been promoted to criminal investigation. She is a fluent English speaker.

Masayoshi MASHITA (Yusuke SANTA MARIA)
Police Officer / Sub. Chief - Criminal Investigation Dept., Bayside Precinct
Posted to the Bayside Precinct in order to study street police techniques on graduation from the Police Academy, his father's high rank in the National Police Agency marks him as a likely candidate for an illustrious career. However he displays none of the arrogance common among the 'elite' and gets a long well with other colleagues. Although Aoshima is older and yet lower in rank, he defers to him as 'boss' and works conscientiously. He has a soft spot for Yukino and a great knowledge of the internet.

KANDA (Soichiro KITAMURA) Chief of Bayside Precinct
AKIYAMA (Akira SAITO) Deputy Chief of Bayside Precinct
HAKAMADA (Takehiko ONO) Chief of Criminal Investigation Department, Bayside Precinct
These three figures controlling the upper ranks of the precinct are something of an institution. Nicknamed "The Three Amigos" by one and all, they are caught between pressure from above and complaints from below. Their rather pitiful state is reflected in their constant worrying about budget.

CAST & STAFF

CAST:

Yuji ODA as AOSHIMA
Toshiro YANAGIBA as MUROI
Eri FUKATSU as Sumire
Miki MIZUNO as Yukino
Kyoko KOIZUMI as Manami HYUGA
Chosuke IKARIYA as Inspector WAKU

Takehiko ONO
Kenta SADOI
Yusuke SANTA MARIA
Akira SAITO
Toshio KAKEI
Soichiro KITAMURA

STAFF:

Directed by: Katsuyuki MOTOHIRO
Screenplay by: Ryoichi KIMIZUKA

Executive Producers: Koichi MURAKAMI / Toshio NAKAMURA

Production Executives: Yoshitaka KITABAYASHI / Yoshiaki YAMADA / Yutaro KAWAMURA

Producers: Chihiro KAMEYAMA / Hirotsugu USUI / Toru HORIBE / Chikahiro ANDO

Associate Producers: Takashi ISHIHARA / Ichiro TAKAI
Line Producer: Eiichiro HADA
Cinematographer: Osamu FUJIISHI
Lighting Director: Ryuichi ISHIMARU
Sound Mixer: Kunio ASHIWARA
Production Designers: Masanori UMEDA / Yoji ABEKI
Edited by: Hiroshi MATSUO
Music by: Akihiko MATSUMOTO

1998 /Color/1:1,85/Dolby SR / 119 min.
A FUJI TELEVISION NETWORK Production In Association With ROBOT

WHAT CRITICS SAID ABOUT

The Japan Times, Best Ten list for 1998

BAYSIDE SHAKEDOWN succeeds in bringing a fresh approach to its tale of a big kidnapping case that becomes a contest between cops on the beat and cops among the elite.

There are no explosions, no car chases, no villainous corpses that suddenly return from the dead. Instead with wit and precision, it delves into the mysteries of the Japanese organizational mind.

The most popular Japanese film of the year is also among the most satisfying.

...films explore the inner workings of the Japanese police, including nitty gritty about bureaucratic infighting and career building, BAYSIDE SHAKEDOWN uses its realism about police hierarchies and procedures to bring its central relationships and situations into sharper, closer focus. Leaving the film, I felt enlightened, not oppressed.

I may be giving the impression that the film is a sleek, polished entertainment. Not really. Shot in 16 mm on a zero budget with only the four principals in most of the scenes -- "Avec" has the look of a typical bare-bones indie production.

Also, while building tension satisfactorily, BAYSIDE SHAKEDOWN avoids the usual genre ploys for keeping audience fingernails digging into armrests: there are no explosions, no car chases, no villainous corpses that suddenly return from the dead.
In fact, the cops are almost comically non-violent types, to whom the sight of a real loony holding a real gun is enough to send an entire station house into a panic. Shooting the loony is, of course, a last resort. The hero of this incident, as it turns out, is not a desk-bound bucho who never pulls a trigger save at a practice range, but a costume-play-loving weirdo in cop drag.

The hero of the film, however, is a real-enough police detective, a thirty-year-old inspector in a sparkling-new Tokyo bayside station. A mid-career hire who once worked for a computer software company, but chafed at the ranking-pulling and games-playing of the salaryman life, Shunsuke Aoshima (Oda) now finds much the same life at his new job, with added layers of rules, bureaucracy and general pettifogging. Instead of chasing crooks, his colleagues spend much of their time searching for lost receipts or jockeying for a better box lunch. Casually contemptuous of this routine and its various enforcers, Aoshima is nonetheless romantic enough to want to be a crime-busting cop, not a ladder-climbing careerist.

The low farce of the daily round is rudely interrupted by the discovery of a corpse floating in a nearby river. What first appears to be a suicide turns out to be a particularly grotesque murder: the killer not only sliced open the victim like a ripe watermelon, but inserted a white teddy bear into his stomach.

Soon after a far more serious crime is committed on the bayside beat: a high-ranking police official is kidnapped in front of his house in broad daylight. What criminal masterminds would be daring -- or stupid - enough to pull off such a stunt? This is a obviously a case, not for the lowly local cops, but the elite bureaucrats of the National Police Agency, who invade the station house like a dark-suited army. One of those bureaucrats -- in fact the one directly in charge of the investigation -- is Shinji Muroi (Toshiro Yanagiba), a grim-visaged former colleague of Aoshima's who may be infinitely above him in status and prospects, but still remains faithful to a promise they once made as brother cops: Aoshima would battle it out on the street and Muroi would support him from the bureaucratic trenches.

Aoshima needs that support when he and others not content to be water boys (and girls) for the NPA, including the feisty Onda (Eri Fukatsu), the weary-but-wise Waku (Chosuke Ikariya) and the soft-spoken, whip-smart Kashiwagi (Miki Mizuno), begin to investigate on their own and discover, amid the mysteries of the Internet, that their two big cases are connected.
This is heresy to the more obtuse among the higher ups, who dismiss ideas not in their manuals out of hand. The battle, we see, is not between bad guys and good guys so much as between different concepts of what it means to be a cop.

BAYSIDE SHAKEDOWN does not paint this conflict in overly simplistic shades. On the other hand, it does not go to the other, quintessentially Japanese, extreme of endowing everyone, even the ostensible bad guys, with hearts of gold. And while being precise and detailed (if occasionally absurd), it is never preachy or dull. The most popular Japanese film of the year is, both as an entertainment and an essay on the Japanese organizational mind, among the most satisfying.

Mark Schilling

REVIEW

June 7, 1999 gVarietyh
By Derek Elley

Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 19, 1999

The biggest-grossing local pic last year in Japan, bested only by gTitanich, gBayside Shakedownh is a thoroughly engaging, offbeat comic riff on TV cop series that looks destined for cult success, at the least, via the fest circuit, and could haul in a buck or two in the hands of devoted offshore distribs. Played completely straight, and deliberately evoking a whole slew of Yank series like gMiami Viceh, pic builds into an involving study of an average, slightly klutzy police precinct faced with a bizarre murder and high-profile kidnapping. gShakedownh is snappily plotted, full of well-drawn characters and manages to be emotionally uplifting at the end. Film had its international preem in this yearfs Cannes market.

On home ground, the movie is already a phenomenon, grossing an unexpected 5 billion yen (US$40 million) between late October f98 and March, giving a major boost to the bottom line of distrib Toho, which had projected only a fifteen of that figure.
Locally, the film came with built-in must-see, being based on a 12 episode Fuji TV series that aired January \ March f97. Several members of the original cast, including Yuji Oda, Eri Fukatsu and Chosuke Ikariya, encore in the feature film; but itfs not necessary to recoganize them or know the various charactersf backgrounds to enjoy the movie.
Superslick credits, like something Michael Mann might have dreamed up in his TV heyday, get things off to a whoosing start, followed by a neat opening vignette that sets the straight-faced seriocomic tone. The young Aoshima (Oda), a computer salesman turned traffic cop, is promoted to Wangan (Bayside) Police Station as a criminal investigator only to find the place corporatized out of its brain by the Metropolitan Police Dept.
Among the staff, Muroi (Toshiro Yanagiba) is a typical career bureaucrat; one of Aoshimafs colleagues, Sumire (Fukatsu), permanently keeps a resignation letter in her drawer; Yukino (Miki Mizuno) is a busy-tailed newcomer. In addition to the officersf personal foibles, someone is stealing the copsf expense receipts from their very desks.
Suddenly, the precinct finds it has a curious murder case to handle when a floater is fished out of a river with a teddy bear sewn into his stomach. Even weirder, they discover the dead man was an Internet geek addicted to a gvirtual murderh Web page.
While still chewing over this development, the precinct is invaded \ in a supercharged sequence with helicopters and men in black\ by undercover MPD agents who install themselves in the building to investigate the kidnapping of their commissioner.
Although the case falls within their territory, the folks at Bayside are told to keep their noses out of things. But Aoshima is desperate to handle a big case. Discreetly, Baysidefs Inspector Wku (Ikariya), who was once a colleague of the commissioner, starts his won inquiries, and over the course of three intense days, the various separate mysteries unfold, with unexpected connections.
Though most of the elements in the picture have been done before, itf s the way in which theyfre juggled and the razor-sharp control of the offbeat tone that make gBayside Shakedownh so enjoyable. Aside from the procedural elements \complicated by warning precincts and rigid protocol\ the script fleshes out its characters with small jabs at Japanese to hierarchies, such as Sumirefs comis resentment at the size of her bossfs lunch boxes.
Bigger tribute to the picfs careful balancing act is that, despite the cinematic references (from gThe Silence of the Lambsh, gDr. Strangeloveh and gReservoir Dogsh to Kurosawafs 1963 kidnap classic gHigh and Lowh itself based on an Ed McBain 87th Precinct novel), it never descends into simple gNaked Gunh humor.
Dialogue is natural, characters are fully formed rather than cutouts, and the ensemple acting gradually coheres into a warm ending when the precinct squares off against the guys from MPD.
Although the moviefs clean, slick look and subject matter couldnft be further removed, therefs something of Laws von Trierfs gThe Kingdomh in its play with genres and straight-faced humor. The script keeps coming up with sudden left turns (the appearance of the Web sitef s operator; the simple truth behind the kidnapping; a late burst of violence that leads to one of the picfs funniest jokes) that perk up the audience on its toes.
Perfs are fine across the board, with the boyish-looking Oda, known locally as a pop star, providing a strong, crafty center to the movie, Ikariya and Yanagiba lending solid support as the elder cops, and Fukatsu terrific as the tomboyish Sumire.
Whoever thought up the snappy English title, which exactly captures the referential spirit of the pic, deserves some back-end points. Original Japanese handle literally means gDancing the Major Investigation Lineh, in the sense of walking a tightrope.

(C)PONYCANYON