Japanese exploitation is a topic for several huge websites, so there is no need to concentrate on it here. Yet, “Executive Koala” fits right in there – where else can you watch a film where a Koala wears a suit, works in an office and kills people when it gets angry? Anyway, let’s get to the details.
Tamura (that very Koala) is a simple salesman that works in a Japanese pickle distribution firm in Japan. He’s what every boss would like – he’s hard-working, polite, and just a nice guy…I mean, Koala.
Tamura proposes his superiors an idea to join forces with South Korean pickle distribution company for a better product, and his idea is met with enthusiasm.
It seems like everything is working for him, until bad news arrive – police notifies Tamura that his girlfriend turns up dead, and he’s the main suspect.
As it is revealed later, Tamura is not “all there” mentally, as he frequently has nightmares, and he’s seeing a psychiatrist. Tamura’s problem is that he keeps seeing flashbacks of him murdering his own wife, and later abusing his girlfriend, who later, as reported by police, turns up dead.
As the story develops, these mental issues create more and more problems for Tamura, as he has to meet with representatives from the South Korean pickle distribution company, and somehow deal with cops that follow his every step…
The Synapse Film DVD has wrong info on the film, claiming that “…Tamura is forced to enlist the help of his boss (white Rabbit) and a friendly convenience store attendant (frog) in order to prove his innocence…”, this is absolutely wrong as Tamura is pretty much alone, and he doesn’t get any help neither from Rabbit, nor from Frog.
As for the film itself – its pure fun, although this Kawasaki Minoru movie involving large costumed animals has a much more dark tone, than his earlier effort “The Calamari Wrestler”, which also has a giant animal (a squid) as the main character.
“Executive Koala” is as entertaining as a silly Japanese exploitation film can be, without any explicit sex and gory scenes. While the idea of having a suit-wearing man play a Koala in a seemingly normal crime drama may seem funny to most, the film itself never makes fun of its “costumed characters”, allowing them to remain rather vivid within the storyline.
There is some martial arts thrown in too, as towards the end of the film, Tamura starts showcasing his fighting skills (Koala doing roundhouse kicks). The only thing that, in my opinion, our Koala lacked was…emotions. We hear him cry and laugh, yet the Koala suit of course doesn’t show that. Only eyes blinking…
On a technical level, the film is solid, the directing is steady, no shakes, and the sound effects at times are quite suspenseful.
The Synapse Films DVD had one sentence right – “…Executive Koala is nothing like America has ever produced, that is why it was made in Japan…” – that much is true.
So, if you want something different to watch, give “Executive Koala” a look. You might even want to watch “The Calamari Wrestler” first, with a follow up with “Executive Koala”, to see the difference between the character approach. If you still have no idea what this film might be about, try checking out the trailer below.
BZFILM SCALE: 6/10
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