work by Alexis Lebrun September 8, 2022
Seven years after his last feature film, cult director Michael Mann is making his comeback to the small screen by taking part in one of the most anticipated series of this fall 2022. And the wait was worth it: Tokyo Vice offers a fascinating insight into the underworld of the Japanese capital.
Don’t get lost in translation
Jake Adelstein is not a journalist like the others. Raised in Missouri, United States, he moved to Tokyo when he was just 19 to continue his studies at a Japanese university. Five years later, he became the first foreign journalist to join the editorial team of the world’s most widely read daily newspaper.
And if he manages this feat, it’s because he’s of the obsessive type: the first episode of Tokyo truck shows a determined man who wants to immerse himself in Japanese culture at all costs, which means that he speaks the language very well and passes the Japanese newspaper entrance exam with flying colours.
Fascinated with solving crimes, Adelstein thinks about making his dream come true by ending up in the police justice service, even if he starts at the bottom of the ladder by covering the various facts. From his first investigations, however, he establishes the link between several seemingly unrelated cases and the Japanese mafia – the famous yakuza – about whom he quickly understands that if you’d rather stay alive, it’s better not to write.
Quite a unique atmosphere
But he did, notably by releasing the autobiographical book in 2009 Tokyo truck (2016 translated in France by Éditions Marchialy), adored by Roberto Saviano – the author of Gomorrah Who knows a bit about the mafia – and therefore adapted in series today. Airing on HBO Max in the US, this version takes place in the late 1990s: Jake Adelstein (Ansel Elgort) is taken under his wing by Hiroto Katagiri (Ken Watanabe), a veteran local cop who specializes in organized crime. whom he gives tips thanks to the contacts the Japanese mafia has made with him.
But this double game is obviously very dangerous, just like the daily life of Jake, who overlooks the shoals of Tokyo night, especially the sulphurous ones “Host Clubs” where cops, reporters and yakuza cross paths. There, Jake meets Sato (Show Kasamatsu), a young yakuza, and Samantha (Rachel Keller), an American woman who works as a hostess in a mafia-controlled club and is familiar with the manners and customs of this underworld.
Let’s admit that the spectacular and very tense investigation of Tokyo truck captivates us, the series fascinates us above all by the elegance with which it portrays the nightlife of the Japanese capital extremely credibly on screen.
Victorious return for Michael Mann to the small screen
This feat is undoubtedly made possible by the contribution of the legendary Michael Mann, the king of the neo-noir genre, who has since steered clear of the series happiness in 2011 (OCS), who directed the first episode and set the tone for the visual aesthetic of Tokyo truck – he has no match when it comes to filming nocturnal metropolises – of which he is also a producer.
The series also marks the first foray into television for acclaimed American playwright JT Rogers, who won a Tony Award for his play Oslo, which was made into a TV movie by HBO last year and can be seen in France on OCS. It was he who had the difficult task of bringing Jake Adelstein’s book to the screen, and we appreciate him taking the time to immerse us alongside him “Outsider” learn the codes of a country that is not his own.
The immersion is all the more complete as the Japanese actors are excellent, beginning with the very charismatic Ken Watanabe (well known to fans of Christopher Nolan), perfect for the babyface of Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver, West Side Story), who obviously spent a lot of time learning Japanese for the purposes of the series.
And the supporting roles don’t stay away either, we’ll find our way in there Tokyo truck Franco-Swiss Ella Rumpf (Tomb of Julia Ducournau, 2016) or even Rachel Keller, the protege of the brilliant Noah Hawley (Fargo on netflix, legion on Disney+). And obviously we weren’t the only ones riveted to this seedy and suspense-packed adaptation: the series has already been renewed for a second season by HBO Max in the US.
Discover the series of events Tokyo truckfrom September 15 only on CANAL+.
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