16 November 2019 | topitimo-829-270459
New decade, old tricks.
The previous entry, "Otoko wa tsurai yo: Torajirô haru no yume" (Tora-san's Dream of Spring, 1979) was a franchise high, one of the rare installations that really stand out. Since there very rarely are two good ones in row, we are now in for a dud. "Otoko wa tsurai yo: Torajiro haibisukasu no hana" (Tora-san's Tropical Fever, 1980) is the 25th film in the franchise, and the first one that came out in the 1980's.
Perhaps due to the American influence in the previous film, Yamada and the gang felt that this, too, needed a more exotic flavor to it. So what they decided to do was put Tora in an airplane for the first time in his life, and fly him down to Okinawa. The motivation stems from a letter he receives from Lily the lounge singer, where she informs him that she is critically ill in a hospital.
The hardcore fans might be confused by this. Didn't we already have a plotline about Tora falling in love with a lady who was terminally ill? Yes, we did. In "Otoko wa tsurai yo: Torajirô junjô shishû" (Tora's Pure Love, 1976). But that was seven films ago and the ones who remember plot details from these films so well are in for the long run. And since the "dying" character this time around is Lily, it makes things at least a little different.
Where there was a clear effort in the previous film, this one seems to be on autopilot. Yamada misses much of the potential. For instance, we do not get to actually see Tora in an airplane, which could have been a good source of comedy, since he has a fear of flying. Also the Okinawa setting isn't put to much use, and after a while, this is a very forgettable entry. Interestingly, after Atsumi's death in 1996, Shochiku was mortified with the loss of their money-cow franchise. They decided to push this film into theaters for a second run, with some new footage, that was added using computer graphics. Thankfully they did not do this for the other films. We'd be here forever.