In Mongol, director Sergei Bodrov challenges our assumptions about Genghis Khan with the help of the emperor of cool, Tadanobu Asano.
Paul Schrader's 1985 autopsy of novelist-filmmaker Mishima Yukio is as enigmatic as the man himself. The Criterion Collection's latest DVD clarifies things, but offers few answers.
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Nothing spells tribute like a top ten list. On the occasion of Sergei Bodrov's Mongol, we recount the best Tadanobu Asano moments.
1. Ichi the Killer
We could have chosen any number of scenes from Ichi the Killer, which contains arguably Asano's greatest performance ever. But we went with the classic. In one of the funniest cinematic gross-outs of all time, Asano cuts off his tongue. Then as everyone -- including the audience -- struggles to force down their vomit, Asano answers his cell phone and tries to strike up a conversation. No scene better encapsulates the actor's odd blend of tongue-in-cheek (pun: yes) mischievousness and manic timing.
2. The Taste of Tea
In a monologue worthy of comparison to Christopher Walken's in Pulp Fiction, Asano tells his little nephew the story of a boy and his poop. Asano's such a jokester here you can't tell if it's the actor or the character that's barely able to keep a straight face.
3. Electric Dragon 80,000 V
In this amped-up Sogo Ishii rock-out, Asano is Dragon Eye Morrison battling Thunderbolt Buddha. After electrocuting himself, he becomes even more ballistic, and Asano gets to scream a lot and do things that should only be done in fast-motion.
4. Survive Style +5
Here, Asano shows his tender side, eating breakfast with his undead wife. The wife, on the other hand: not so tender.
5. Tokyo Zombie
This isn't among Asano's best films, but the image of him in an Afro ought to be one of his signature looks. And the scene of him cursing out a fellow janitor and running over random pedestrians and leaving them to be eaten by zombies is Asano at his funniest.
6. Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl
In this cult favorite, he's stuck in a bathroom stall with a pervy guy who tells him he likes him ("suki!") while Asano, the cool-to-the-teeth hitman, just laughs.
7. Rampo Noir
We couldn't find a YouTube clip of Asano's nightmarish performance in the "Insects" section of Rampo Noir -- if it existed, it'd probably be taken down as a usage violation anyway. In the scene of note, Asano's character kills his lover, cuts up her body, and paints her up with the blood. By the end, Asano has his head in the belly of the decaying corpse, and as he's pulled out, he has the most innocent look on his face.
8. Love & Pop
Another great Asano monologue can be found here in his role as the "educating" bully sadist Captain XX/Captain EO, who preaches to a naked kid hustling for money. Michael Jackson would not be pleased.
9. Funky Forest: The First Contact
We couldn't find a clip that did Asano's performance in this nutso masterpiece justice, but we believe the above photo speaks for itself. Or rather it speaks, but in an alien language understandable only by Katsuhito Ishii and his band of crazies. In case you're wondering, the white kid plays Asano's brother.
Few directors know how best to use Asano's gifts, and Wong Kar-wai, in a mere seven minutes and 55 seconds, puts on a clinic, with none other than Karen Mok in a purple wig matching Asano's leather-jacket cool. The above clip is a reel of commercials for the ultra-rare short film, but if you want to sample wkw/tk/1996@7'55"hk.net in it's entirety, you can click here. However, be aware of the poor video source.
[compiled by Rowena Aquino, Oliver Chien, Bryan Hartzheim, and Brian Hu]
For APA's coverage of Tadanobu Asano in Sergei Bodrov's Mongol, click here.
For APA's old reviews of Asano's films, check out: Invisible Waves, Café Lumiere, Last Life in the Universe
Date Posted: 7/11/2008