4 September 2008 | keal
Actor driven - star power definitely present!
If you're a fan of Japanese TV dramas and/or popular movies, the two main actors Hiroshi Abe and Yuko Takeuchi will be instantly recognizable, and will make you want to watch this. Which is good, because this is an actor-driven film. The weak, surgery-based thriller plot and the fast pacing by the director don't leave much to be desired. with that said, the two main actors working together give this film more than enough reason to watch.
The actors don't have much room to stretch out in this film and show their full potential. I'm talking about all the actors. While I can point out the two main ones, the rest of the medical crew are all - mostly comedy-oriented, mind you - very talented. They appear in numerous TV dramas, and are good at holding up shows with the dumbest of plots. With Team Batista, you have an A-list team of Japanese actors who can all hold their own, but are herded together for this commercial film.
For the Japanese drama-and-movie uninitiated, this film will seem mildy entertaining. It doesn't hold up as a medical drama in any sense, as not much attention is paid to the medical stuff. Not that that's a bad thing. Who wants to watch a bloody surgery, when it could be a harsh reality for a lot of us in the real world as we get older? There's not much comedy, either. It's there, but it's tongue-in-cheek humor, not bust-a-gut laughing kind.
So what's to like about this movie? Even though the actore don't shine much - the script and the direction don't give them much room to flex, as I've said before - this is one of those films that make you think, "Wow! They're working together, I want to see their on screen chemistry!" Abe Hiroshi really shines in TV dramas. "Dragon Zakura" comes to mind easily, though that's probably something you won't find easily on DVD. No matter. What littls acting he does in this film, he really shines. It's just the tip of the iceberg for his real abilities, but have no doubt - he's one of the finest actors in Japan, period. He can take the lousiest script and make it feasible with his over-the-top abilities. He does a fine job in this as the harsh investigator.
Yuko Takeuchi is slightly different, as her downplayed role can be misunderstood as poor acting. If you can, take the time to find the movie 'Heaven's Bookstore' which should be widely available. She plays two roles in that film, showing a great range of her skills. When she plays the docile, politically-correct investigator in this film, it will seem very downplayed to one who doesn't know her from other films. But knowing how she plays her roles, her passive attitude in Batista really helps Abe Hiroshi shine when he makes his grand entrance.
Team Batista is a real treat for Japanese TV/Cinema regulars, just to see the team-up of Hiroshi and Takeuchi, surrounded by some great - though limited - performances of some lesser-known TV actors.
If you don't know any of the actors, pay attention to them, and not the story, and let that be a teaser to let you seek out their other film and TV performances.
This is a solid, middle-of-the-road mainstream commercial film. I have the Japanese DVD because I love the actors, and don't regret picking it up. But I think you really need to see Takeuchi's performance in 'Heaven's Bookstore' to really appreciate Team Batista.
This movie, while not great on its own, is definitely not a waste of time. A must-see for Japanese entertainment fans!