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MESSENGERS
STORY INTRODUCTION PRODUCTION NOTE
CHARACTER BACKGROUND DIRECTOR:YASUO BABA CAST & STAFF
REAL
STORY

Naomi Shimizu (Naoko Iijima) is a 29 year old career woman in charge of PR for the venerable Italian fashion house, 'Enrico Dandolo'. Under the umbrella of its trading partner (major Japanese trading company) 'Ataka Trading', Naomi's boyfriend, Hiroshi Okano (Tetsuya Bessho), is able to provide her with the enviable luxury lifestyle to which she is accustomed.

That is, until one day Enrico Dandolo unexpectedly declares bankruptcy. Okano flies abroad to deal with the crisis leaving Naomi at the mercy of his colleague, Ota (Shigemitsu Ogi). Ota repossesses her apartment, clothes, credit cards, cell phone, everything she has to credit the company balance sheet.

Naomi flees her apartment with her one remaining asset, the red Alpha Romeo. However she carelessly collides with bicycle messenger Yokota (Hiroyuki Yabe). Yokota is severely hurt. He pleads with Naomi for her to fill in for him until he recovers at the delivery company 'Tokyo Express' he started with his college friend, Suzuki (Tsuyoshi Kusanagi). Under pressure from supervising traffic cop, Shimano (Yuzo Kayama) Naomi reluctantly agrees to this settlement. Accustomed to a life of luxury, the work of a bicycle messenger proves harder than Naomi's wildest imaginings. She finds herself soaked by the rain, exhausted by the many hills, chased by angry truck drivers only to receive not a word of thanks from the clients. This is compounded by Suzuki failing to have a single kind word for her. She is on the point of giving up the whole thing.

She goes to see Yokota in hospital with the intention of quitting only to overhear Yokota arguing with his long-suffering girlfriend Yumiko (Kotomi Kyono) who is fed up with his dedication to the instability of Tokyo Express. Yumiko returns the cell phone Yokota gave her and declares that she's going to quit Tokyo and return to her home town.

The next day Naomi is asked by Yokota to stop Yumiko leaving. She chases Yumiko's bus and hands the cell phone back to her. Seeing Yumiko's eyes fill with tears as Yokota calls to ask her not to go, Naomi has a change of heart. Filled with new-found inspiration, she takes Suzuki to see her former nemesis Ota at Ataka Trading in the hope of pitching Tokyo Express as their courier. When Ota refuses their request with the words "Even if you are cheaper than the motorbikes, you'll never be as fast, so forget it..." Naomi has the idea of challenging to a race, two motorbike couriers who happen to be in the office, Hosokawa (Shinsuke Kyo) and Hattori (Shinsuke Aoki). Thanks to Suzuki's efforts, Tokyo Express wins and secures a contract with the trading company.

Augmented by Yumiko, the newly-retired policeman Shimano and Hattori, fired from his job on the motorbikes, Tokyo Express turns a new page. At this point, having secured the contract to franchise the massively popular 'Tim Grey' fashion line, Naomi's former boyfriend, Okano returns in triumph from New York and offers her the position of head of PR. However Naomi is confused by the wealth of emotion she feels towards both her new job and her colleague, Suzuki. When Suzuki fails to ask her not to go, she feels slighted and returns to her old world.

Meanwhile, Hosokawa succeeds in playing a dirty trick to force a re-match for the Ataka Trading account between his team of motorbikes and Tokyo Express. Crippled by the loss of Naomi, the Tokyo Express team have no choice but to head into the competition at great disadvantage. How on earth can they win?

Art director is Yoshinobu Nishioka, whose triumphs include the l953 Cannes Film Festival Grand Prix winning film GATE OF HELL.

The star-studded cast includes Kiichi Nakai as Juzo, Mayu Tsuruta as Kohagi, Riona Hazuki as Kisaru, Takaya Kamikawa as Gohei, and Mako as Shogun Hideyoshi.

Cinematography, sets, costumes, etc. are sumptuous.The picture is slated for completion in June, 1999, and will be released in Japan in autumn 1999.

STORY

"Sweat and grit" Tokyo's toughest and most rewarding job - bicycle messenger."

Zipping through the congestion with ease, often outpacing their motorbike rivals, the rapidly growing numbers of bicycle messengers is the latest development of the Tokyo city-scape. This movie captures the passionate, freewheeling lifestyle of these bikers, dressed in their cutting edge bike fashion and limited only by the speed of their high-tech bicycles. @

Foregoing the CGI techniques of movies like "The Phantom Menace", the reality of this action-packed movie with real actors on the streets of Tokyo breaking real sweat, is sure to inspire.

The weapon these messengers wield is the Mountain Bike. But not the machine familiar to the average weekend rider. Re-designed from the ground up for speed and strength, these mountain bikes sport front-wheel suspension and ski-boot like foot bindings in a total re-evolution of the machine.

The fashion code of the bicycle messenger is fast-moving to the front of the fashion scene here with magazines devoting pages to the latest trends in jerseys and bags.

PRODUCTION NOTES

- THE WORK OF THE BICYCLE MESSENGER -

In an average day, a messenger will have to cover perhaps 100 kilometers. At speeds of up to 60 kilometers per hour, power-riding both down hills and up, a love of bicycles is a must and many riders go on to attempt the triathlon. For the furthest deliveries, it's common for riders to set up relays at predetermined points to hand-over the documents and get them to their targets as fast as possible. Such arrangements are often coordinated by a 'despatcher' over a walkie-talkie network to ensure efficiency.

This figure, besides having a mastery of local geography must also have an innate sense of timing that verges on the mysterious. For the riders he has all the importance of an air-traffic controller.

The official category of 'Bicycle Messenger' first emerged in the hectic business world of New York where bicycles were entrusted with important documents and computer disks in the mid-1970's. In modern industrialized societies delivery by bicycle rather than motorbike is now the norm. In such cities as, Washington DC, San Francisco, Toronto, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Stockholm and Tokyo, bicycle messengers are a common sight. Japan's first bicycle messenger service opened in 1989.

"When the going gets tough, try to overtake..."

"A 'Boy Meets-Girl' story bridging the before and after of Japan's economic crash."

"She'd only ever known luxury; he was working for every penny."

CHARACTER BACKGROUND

NAOMI SHIMIZU (Naoko Iijima):
Cheif of PR for the venerable Italian fashion label, Naomi is used to luxury and can be very selfish. She hits trouble when her company folds and the debtors come after her.

HIRONORI SUZUKI (Tsuyoshi Kusanagi):
Devoted bicycle enthusiast and dedicated messenger, he started the company with his friend Yokota. Among his favorite expressions is the phrase "Deliver or Die!"

SHIGEKAZU YOKOTA (Hiroyuki Yabe):
Hospitalized with a broken leg after his collision with Naomi's Alpha Romeo, he asks her to stand in for him until he gets better.

YUMIKO ABE (Kotomi Kyono):
Yokota's girlfriend is a student of photography. Although fed up with Yokota, she has a change of heart and agrees to help out at the revitalized Tokyo Express.

MAKOTO SHIMANO (Yuzo Kayama):
Although he can't ride to save his life, this former traffic policeman's knowledge of Tokyo makes him a perfect choice for the role of despatcher.

NORIYUKI HATTORI (Shinsuke Aoki):
After getting fired from Seroute, Hattori teams up with the Tokyo Express gang and plays an important part in their comeback.

HIROSHI OKANO (Tetsuya Bessho):
In charge of Ataka Trading's clothing import division, he set up Naomi with a fancy apartment, nice car etc. on the company dime. When Enrico Dandolo folds, he is pushed onto a plane to New York to put things right.

YOSHIHISA OTA (Shigemitsu Ogi):
Cheif of Ataka Trading's Audit department, he is a colleague of Okano's. Entrusted to 'deal with' Naomi, he confiscates her apartment and cancels her credit cards and insurance. She is left penniless with nowhere to go.

TAKAYUKI HOAOKAWA (Shinsuke Kyo):
Boss of the motorbike delivery company, Seroute. Initially holding the entire Ataka Trading delivery account, he loses out to Suzuki's bicycle messengers and constantly schemes to regain his company's former position.

MAMIKO MAEKAWA (Yuko Ito):
Sub-editor of this popular fashion magazine is a colleague and friend to Naomi but there remains a subtle rivalry between them.

THEME SONG: by Toshinobu Kubota:
Chosen for his familiarity with his adopted home of New York, the birthplace of bicycle messengers, Toshinobu Kubota brings a gritty taste of the East Coast to the movie's theme song, "Messenger's Rhyme: Rakushow...It's Your Show!" Shown in full at the end of the movie, featuring the entire lead cast, it's a unique performance that complements Kubota's opening song "No Lights...Candle Light".

DIRECTOR:YASUO BABA

Yasuo BABA born in Tokyo in 1954 and founded HOICHOI PRODUCTIONS INC. in 1984 to be appointed as president. Before MESSENGERS, BABA directed TAKE ME TO THE SNOWLAND, TAKE ME TO THE BEACH and HOLD ME, HOLD ME, HOLD ME through HOICHOI, which grossed 15 to 20 million each US Dollars in Japan only. Through these title, HOICHOI became image leader of younger generation's life style. HOICHOI also known as a creative force in publishing, advertising and TV production.

CAST & STAFF

CAST:

Naoko IIJIMA

Tsuyoshi KUSANAGI

Hiroyuki YABE
Kotomi KYONO

Yuzo KAYAMA

Tetsuya BESSHO
Shigemitsu OGI
Shinsuke KYO
Shinsuke AOIKI
Yuko ITO

STAFF:

Director: Yasuo BABA
Screenplay: Masashi TODAYAMA

Theme song by Toshinobu KUBOTA
Music: Yusuke HONMA

Producers: Jiro KOMAKI, Takashi ISHIHARA, Taichi KURAMOCHI, Shinya KAWAI, Hisao MASUDA

Casting: Yumiko KUZEKI
Line producer: Kosaku WADA

Director of Photography: Genkichi HASEGAWA
Lighting: Kiyohiko MORIYA
Production Designer: Tomio OGAWA
Editor: Takuya TAGUCHI
Sound: Jun NAKAMURA
Executive Producer: Mitsuru ITO
Production: FUJI TELEVISION, SHOGAKUKAN, PONY CANYON

Directed by Yasuo BABA
(C)1999 FUJI TELEVISION / SHOGAKUKAN / PONY CANYON

(C)PONYCANYON