Following the immensely popular television drama series in 2011 (which was also broadcasted on our local television network in 2012), The After-Dinner Mysteries returns with a movie packed with entertainment! The movie centres the mystery behind a series of murder that occurred on a luxurious cruise bound for Singapore. The murderer is hiding amongst the 3000 people onboard, with a motive yet to be unveiled. With the series of incidents which even threatened the life of Hosho Reiko, a police and the heiress of a rich family, can her butler Kageyama successfully protect her from harm and solve the mysteries?
A never done before in its television drama series, more than half of the film is shot overseas, which heavily featured Singapore! This definitely is one of the appeals to our local audience, as it is rather refreshing to see Singapore from the perspective of a foreign film, which brilliantly captured the beauty of many familiar sights. Although it is the first attempt at a movie for veteran television drama director Hijikata Masato, this movie didn't seem like it is just another episode pulled out from the television series, it was in fact a work that is pretty outstanding. On top of that, many scenes are scaled up for the silver screen, such as the helicopter scenes, the full shot of the Star Cruise Virgo, and even the scenes at the 'no man's island'.
The regular cast Sakurai Sho (as Kageyama), Kitagawa Keiko (as Hosho Reiko) and Shiina Kippei (as Kazamatsuri) have showed greater chemistry on screen. Kageyama is as usual sharp tongued and curt towards Reiko, which came across as natural and expected by now. It is also more refreshing as there were more interactions between Kageyama and other members of the cast this time, as he is more directly involved in the mystery solving.
Apart from the series' regular cast, the movie has a strong lineup of supporting cast which increased the entertainment value of the movie exponentially. In particular, veteran actor Nakamura Masatoshi nailed his role as the manager of the luxury cruise, who is also the father of the jazz singer (played by Sakaraba Nanami). The exchanges between Sakuraba Nanami and Nakamura Masatoshi is a definite plus point to the movie which made the drama better. Takenaka Naoto and Okura Koji, who played the roles of the wacky brothers, also impressed greatly on the audiences, bringing out a lot of laughter and comedic elements.
Although the movie ought to be on 'mystery-solving', it was not too heavily focused on just solving the mysteries. It was well balanced out with the drama side of the movie. The story had many layers and unexpected twists and turns, but was overall very easy to follow. Also, the comedy and humour of the movie has leveled up from the drama series. Even the character mascot of the luxurious cruise had a part to play in bringing out the fun and laughter. Overall the story and comedy kept the audiences rather engaged and entertained.
Last but not least, sharing with you a movie trivia. Our national symbol, the Merlion, was undergoing maintenance works when the filming crew and cast came to Singapore last year. The Merlion that you see towards the end of the movie is actually a result of a near-perfect post production CG enhancement! This goes to show the amount of effort and detail invested into this movie to make it perfect. Kudos to that!
Like many other Japanese dramas and movies, it is almost a given that it will resolve with a rather cliché ending. However, if it had ended otherwise, it would be strange too. So it is forever a love-hate relationship with those cliché endings. Nevertheless, The After-Dinner Mysteries movie was a fun and light-hearted one. Mystery solving, humour, comedy, drama and action all packed into one. Even the non- followers of the television series are guaranteed to be entertained!