City Hunter: The Motion Picture

Facebook is an amazing creation. Now that it's been released to the general public and is not limited to simply high school and college students, it's a phenomenon. For some, it's simply a way to stay in touch with friends. But for many of us 30-somethings, it has become an alternate form of class reunion. As with the site Classmates, whose pay-to-participate model let Facebook run roughshod over its concept, you can see what people you once knew wound up becoming. Obviously there are some shocks along the way, everything from the nerd who became famous to the new and proud members of the GLBT community. And, of course, you run across a few people who just never grew up. Despite their potential, they mentally never made it past 12th grade.

Ryo Saeba is one of those friends.

Now that's not to say that Ryo's adventures in the confines of the City Hunter franchise aren't fun and amusing. In fact, of the various extended City Hunter adventures, City Hunter: The Motion Picture (AKA Goodbye My Sweetheart) is one of the best. It has plenty of action and a plot that, while shallow, works for a fast-moving adventure. My complaint is one I've actually made many times about City Hunter. Ryo Saeba is a letch who is never going to change. If you can deal with that, then this is really a decent movie in the City Hunter universe.

By now, City Hunter is an old enough franchise that many readers perhaps don't know that Ryo Saeba is a Tokyo detective with two main qualities -- he is an utter letch, and he can become the coolest cucumber in the supermarket when trying to impress the ladies. In this story, a woman named Amy is an orphan who is trying to find her long-lost brother. He has disappeared, along with virtually all traces of him; it's almost like he never existed. And as she plans to show Ryo his picture, suddenly his face is shot out of the portrait. Turns out said brother is criminally insane due to his war experiences and has hatched a diabolical scheme, yadda yadda yadda. Ryo must save Tokyo from a bombing plot and keep Amy alive while attempting to reconcile her with her wacko sibling. Oh, and he also has to do it all without drooling all over himself in lust. For Ryo, that's a big deal.

City Hunter: The Motion Picture looks pretty much like an extended episode of the TV series, which isn't surprising given that the film was indeed made for TV. At this point, it looks old. Then again, if you're a fan of City Hunter, this will come as no shock. If you can get past the age of the animation, it's not badly done, but those expecting it to actually look like a feature for the big screen will be disappointed.

Ultimately, the film succeeds and fails on its hinge points -- its action sequences and Ryo's lechery. The action here is clean and (as with most CH material) well-choreographed. Yes, part of the plot is a ripoff, essentially Speed on a train...but it's far better than Speed II on a boat, so it can be forgiven that sin. I found the film an easy watch in that it was well-paced and fun, uncomplicated but enjoyable enough that if you can accept it as B-grade entertainment, it's worthwhile. As far as the cornball lecherous antics of Ryo go, this is not the worst of the series, but they would still make viewing it with your mother uncomfortable. I tend to like Ryo in ultra-cool mode rather than horny toad mode, so this film occasionally made me think, "Was that really necessary?" But then again, I've never been a fan of this, so your personal mileage may vary. My grade goes down a bit because it would be nice (though impossible) if Ryo showed some maturity. But maybe that's asking too much.

If you've never seen a City Hunter show, this one is as good a starting point as any, and certainly better than some. City Hunter: The Motion Picture is simple entertainment done pretty well. I got it on VHS for a $1, and at that price it was great. I don't know that it's worth a full-price DVD purchase unless you're a collector, but it'd be a worthwhile rental for action night with the guys.

City Hunter: The Motion Picture -- violence, adult situations (namely Ryo's lecherous actions) -- B+