Dangan Runner

At first glance, Non-Stop looks like a clone of Run Lola Run. The two are both lightning fast movies about people running through the streets, Lola through Berlin and Non-Stop through Tokyo. Take a closer look, and the differences emerge. Non-Stop is actually older than Lola by a couple years, getting US distribution as the final film in the Shooting Gallery series (this year giving movies like A Time for Drunken Horses, Barenaked in America, and Human Resources). Moreover, where Lola was about the importance of a couple seconds and showed her doing the same thing three times, Non-Stop is in a much more comedic vein, with three people chasing after each other. Writer/director Sabu (aka Hiroyuki Tanaka, Monday, Unlucky Money) crafts a wry look at one of Hollywood's biggest action movie cliches-the chase, stretches it to the entire length of the movie, and turns all conventions upside down.

After a deceptively slow beginning, things take off at a quick pace. Yasuda (Tomorowo Taguchi, Taboo, Tomie) is planning to rob a bank but forgot his mask. He tries to steal one from a convenience store, but Aizawa (Diamond Yukai) sees him and begins chasing him. During their chase, they run into Takeda (Shinichi Tsutsumi, Monday, Keiho), a yakuza bodyguard. It just so happens that Aizawa is a washed up singer and drug addict, and owes Takeda money, so Takeda takes off after Aizawa, who is chasing Yasuda. Unbeknownst to the three runners, their actions slowly start cascading, starting a street war between two rival gangs and the police.

For anybody still unclear, Non-Stop is a comedy and approaches farce level by the end. First, Sabu has the chase last for hours, more than anybody could possibly run continuously. Yasuda, Aizawa, and Takeda all somehow manage to survive and stay equidistant from each other for the duration of their run. Each also has their unique breathing pattern. The acting is surprisingly relaxed and suitably cheesy, especially on Taguchi and Tsutsumi's behalf. Both Yasuda and Takeda (and to a degree Aizawa) are all failures in life. Along the way, he also pokes fun of marathons, inept cops, and Mexican standoffs.

Primarily because a movie consisting only of people running would be boring, Sabu intersperses the running with flashbacks giving insight as to each person's motivations. He also allows the audience to look into the mind of each person, seeing some of their thoughts. Even with all of Sabu's preponderance for playing with time and continuity, Non-Stop is extremely easy to follow and understand. He cleverly weaves the storylines back and forth and into each other, showing how ridiculous the entire affair is. Unlike most other Hollywood chases, this one ends ingeniously and is well worth the wait.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Good.
1 hour, 22 minutes, Japanese with English subtitles, Not Rated but contains nudity, sexual situations, violence, and language, most like would be an R.

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