The Most Terrible Time in My Life Movie Review

Asian cinema always seems to have its own voice, its own reasons, and its own functions. Kaizo Hayashi's The Most Terrible Time in My Life is a great example of amazing cinema that has been emerging from the Asian Pacific Rim in the past decade.

The Most Terrible Time in My Life is the first installment of a three-part series concerning Maiku Hama - a punk-turned-respectable private eye whose office is located in a movie theatre. A gritty, violent tale of gangland warfare, missing people, and friendships, and betrayal, Maiku's exploits begin by defending a waiter at a local mah-jongg parlor from two Yakuza thugs, culminating in Maiku getting part of his pinky finger sliced off. The waiter, Hai Ting, then hires Maiku to find his brother who has gone missing for a year since arriving in Japan. Maiku contacts his old cabby buddy Hoshino and finds out the Taiwanese and Hong Kong mafias are planning an all-out turf war in Japan.

Maiku suspects that Hai Ting's brother is involved in the Hong Kong gang. Maiku and Hoshino break into the Hong Kong Black Dog gang, and almost end up getting killed but find out the Hai Ting's brother is in fact part of the gang. Maiku is determined to reunite the brothers, but Hai Ting has ulterior motives, which throw Maiku into the middle of a gang war.

Director Kaizo Hayashi has creates a brilliant homage to the French New Wave film of the 1960s. Hayashi's directing style is reminiscent of Martin Scorsese and Abel Ferrara. The film zigs and zags its way like a firecracker string let loose in room full of cats. The use of black and white film stock and the clash of wardrobes from past decades lend an ambivalence to whether the film takes in the past or present day. Masatoshi Nagase play Maiku with exceptional poise and confidence.

Altogether, the film is beautifully violent and the imagery is striking and haunting. The complexities of the characters are brought to life by wonderful performances from the supporting cast. The film paints a vivid picture of the underbelly of Hong Kong and highlights strongly upon the racism that rests between Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese people. Ultimately, The Most Terrible Time in My Life is a great story of brotherhood betrayals, the stark underworld of Hong Kong gangland, and how harmless motivations can become the most dangerous ones.

(aka Waga jinsei saiaku no toki)

Comments

The Most Terrible Time in My Life Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: NR, 1993

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