|(C)2003 Fuji Television Network/INP
First came the Fuji TV series, "Bayside Shakedown"; a riff on formula cop dramas that used a parallel between law-enforcement and the corporate world to great comic effect. Highlighting the frustrations and hilarity inherent in the relationships between the Metropolitan Police Department ("Head Office") and a local precinct, it broke the mold of police dramas in Japan and was a big hit with the viewers.
When the movie version was released in October, 1998, word-of-mouth and a loyal fan base ensured that it would be huge. With 7 million admissions, it pulled in over $90 million US and secured the number five spot in Japanese box-office history.
2003. Five years later, Sergeant Aoshima and his team are back and ready for another "Shakedown".
This eagerly-awaited sequel weaves four separate story-lines together over the course of a three day period of public holidays. As before, its unique appeal comes from blending crime-solving action with highly entertaining depictions of the various characters involved. This time out there is the added attraction of a new layer of conflict provided by the newly-introduced Senior Superintendent, Hitomi Okita. Hitherto, the strife between the local precinct and "head office" was the source of much drama, but with Okita's appearance, the local force's notion of police work is turned entirely on its head. Having spent the last five years perfecting the philosophy and technique of "community policing", Sergeant Aoshima is shaken to the core by the new challenge this woman represents.
Fans of the previous outings will be thrilled by the many details that emerge during the course of the film, not least of which is the secret behind Sergeant Aoshima's beloved coat.
Needless to say the role of Sergeant Aoshima goes to the much-beloved Yuji Oda. In his determination to bring a fresh feel to this movie, he decided not to reference any of the previous shows and didn't screen a single one. Not wanting to see the "Bayside Shakedown" series end, Toshiro Yanagiba was only too delighted to play Superintendent Shinji Muroi. In other roles, the line-up of five years previous appear in a solid display of supporting talent; Eri Fukatsu as Sergeant Sumire Onda, Miki Mizuno as Sergeant Yukino Kashiwagi, Yusuke Santamaria as Inspector Masayoshi Mashita and Chousuke Ikariya as Heihachiro Waku. Of course, comic relief is provided by the aptly nicknamed "Three Amigos", the blundering bosses of the local precinct: Soichiro Kitamura as Police Chief Kanda, Takehiko Ono as Division Chief Hakamada and Akira Saito as Assistant Chief Akiyama.
This solid core of regulars is challenged by some new faces. Chief among these is the Takarazuka Theater-trained, Miki Maya, playing the new Senior Superintendent, Okita. Her subordinate, in charge of a controversial surveillance system, is newcomer, Kotaro Koizumi. We also have Manami Konishi as the delicate witness to the central murder, Ritsuko Edo and the long-time "Shakedown" fan, Takashi Okamura who begged his way onto the cast as a local criminal.
On the production side, we are in the capable hands of the original team from the TV series, including Producer, Chihiro Kameyama, Writer, Ryoichi Kimizusuka and Director, Katsuyuki Motohiro.
All in all, a first rate team and one determined to "Shake" up the Japanese entertainment industry all over again.
Tokyo, the bayside borough of Odaiba: once a sleepy part of the city on empty, reclaimed land, it's now a bustling destination for hipsters and tourists alike. The local police precinct, long derided as a backwater, is inundated with missing kids, traffic congestion and all the details of community policing.
One day, a report of something suspicious comes in from near the famed "Rainbow Bridge" (connecting the reclaimed island of Odaiba to Tokyo itself). Bored with his everyday neighborhood duties and eager to get his teeth into a serious crime, Sergeant Shunsaku Aoshima (Yuji Oda) races over to the scene. He is met by a particularly gruesome sight; a dead body weirdly bound up and long dead.
However his involvement is short-lived. A unit from Metropolitan Police Headquarters barges in to assume responsibility for the investigation. His precinct is relegated to the role of playing host to senior officers, Superintendent Shinji Muroi (Toshiro Yanagiba) and his sidekick, Kentaro Shinjo (Toshio Kakei). Joining these two is Senior Superintendent, Hiromi Okita, (Miki Maya) a woman chosen to oversee the operation to alter the all-male image of the police department. With much expectation placed upon her, she's in no mood to make friends. Treating the local precinct as little more than her flunkeys, even alienating Muroi with her abusive treatment, she runs the investigation with a tough hand.
At this point in the proceedings, as if mocking the lack of unity in the police, a second body turns up. Whilst continuing with their normal duties, Aoshima and his partner Sumire Onda (Eri Fukatsu), are entrusted with protecting the only witness to the crime, Ritsuko Edo (Manami Konishi).
They escort her to a party where she is to be bait to tempt the criminals out into the open. Meanwhile fellow detective, Shigeru Koike (Kotaro Koizumi) monitors events on a secret and controversial, new surveillance system known as "CARAS". Just as the criminals approach the witness, by coincidence both Aoshima and Onda see suspects they've been pursuing in separate cases. However orders from Superintendent Okita, forbid them from giving chase and their suspects get away.
When Aoshima & Onda complain to Okita, they are infuriated when she dismisses their local investigations as completely insignificant.
Meanwhile two more members join the investigation in response to the suspect's phone calls. On one hand is Masayoshi Mashita (Yusuke SantaMaria) from Police HQ, fresh from a crisis negotiation course in Los Angeles, on the other is Heihachiro Waku (Chosuke Ikariya), a grizzled beat cop and faithful consultant of the Bayside precinct. These guys produce a suspect profile which prompts the investigation HQ to post a stakeout of public payphones.
No sooner is this set up than a call comes in from the suspect. Superintendent Muroi, manning the "CARAS" unit, spots a suspicious-looking man. He calls in a detective of the local precinct, Yukino Kashiwagi (Miki Mizuno) who happens to be in the area. However, all he can do is watch the monitors in horror as the suspect sneaks up behind her with a knife...!
Although there was some mention of a possible sequel in the media when the original film was released, no-one was really counting on it. It wasn't until 2001 that anything really definite began to take place. When Yuji Oda was having a year-end drink with producer, Chihiro Kameyama of Fuji TV and expressed an interest in a sequel, Kameyama sprang into action. Early in 2002 he called together the director, Motohiro and the writer, Kimizuka and they came to an informal agreement to have a sequel ready for release sometime in 2003. With the completion of the screenplay during 2002, the new project was well under way.
There were a wealth of new ideas for the sequel. Some were complete departures from previous stories, such as one involving a submarine (still alluded to in the present film) or another along the lines of "Airport"; others looked back into Aoshima's past, or sought inspiration in films like "The Godfather Part II" or looked to fill in episodes from the TV series (such as "The Movie 8.5" that would bridge episodes 8 & 9). As ideas were kicked around, it became apparent that going back into the past was not the best route to take. One important aspect was that the borough of Odaiba itself had changed greatly. Now it's a burgeoning metropolis and the idea emerged that use should be made of that change in the city.
When it came to casting the project one thing emerged to everyone's delight. It was possible to secure the involvement of every single person who had been in the original series. This did not just include the main cast members, but extended to a whole host of supporting roles and guest stars. For example, Wataru Takasugi from the TV series plays Kusakabe, the head of the Special Assault Team; Akiko Hatayama (famous from the first episode for demanding an application to allow a patrol car to be drawn out of the garage) is back on the team as are numerous detectives in both the local precinct and the Metropolitan H.Q. Even many of the background talent are exactly the same folk from the original series. Obviously this is a most unusual cinematic event and one that provides a feast of trivia for die-hard fans who have proved eager to see the film many times.
This loyalty was also true of the film crew itself and most of the crew were old faces. During the five years since the previous film, many people had left the industry to take other work. As producer, Kameyama commented, "even these people took vacations to come back on our crew. People went to such lengths, it was something unprecedented. I'd like to think this represents a new direction for the Japanese movie industry..." In total something like 300 people were involved in the project.
It was said that the new film was going to outdo the old film in all departments, but nowhere was that more so than in the Art Department. One estimate suggested that the workload was 300% greater on this film. In terms of details, there was a large increase in the provision of invented brands to facilitate aspects of the drama. Viewers of the TV series are well familiar with the "Frog Moving Company". In this film, the "Black Frog Moving Company" played an important role in moving some of the secret gear used by the police special forces.
Another example would be the different kinds of noodle brands devised for the film. Fans delight in their knowledge of "Kimchi Ramen" used in the TV series, which then spawned "Seaweed Ramen" in the first film. In the sequel, the art department came up with over ten new brands of ramen.
The character of "Bayside Bill" who introduces us to the world of the movie at the opening, was another creation of this hardworking department. Found throughout the precinct on towels, mugs, T-shirts and fans, he proved extremely popular in real life and the art department had to meet numerous request for these merchandise from cast and crew alike.
Odaiba was not just the fictional base of the story, most of the filming took place there too. However, to avoid any disruption, most filming took place late at night or early in the morning. As some people may be able to tell, the most dramatic sequence unfolds right in front of Fuji TV Headquarters itself, along the West Promenade. However, since this was a daylight scene, there was no choice but to shoot it among the crowds of midday. It is a testament to the excellence of the crew that filming passed off without a single incident.
Other filming took place in Chiba Bay, in Yokohama, in Machida with the most difficult location being 200 feet beneath the earth in an uncompleted tunnel complex. Just getting the gear and crew down to the location was a feat in itself. Needless to say, at the end of that sequence, the crew were exhausted.
The Grip Department (specialized camera support) was also a massive part of this film. Panther dollies and cranes were used to give movement to the camera in the tiniest of spaces, whilst Steadicam rigs freed the camera for wider work, to get higher shots, the Akila Crane, the largest of its kind in Asia was used to ensure the most dynamic footage.
Executive Producer: Chihiro Kameyama
Written by: Ryoichi Kimizuka
Original Score by: Akihiko Matsumoto
Producers: Hirotsugu Usui, Toru Horibe, Chikahiro Ando,
Takashi Ishihara, Ichiro Takai
Casting by: Hidefumi Shoji
Director of Photography: Osamu Fujiishi
Lighting by: Hiroyuki Kase
Sound Mixer: Kunio Ashiwara
Art Department Producer: Jitsunosuke Kawai
Production Designer: Masanori Umeda
Art Director: Yoji Abeki
Film Editor: Takuya Taguchi
Directed by: Katsuyuki Motohiro
A FUJI TELEVISION NETWORK and INP production