After her father disappears, Rina is left behind with his bar “Hydra”. Besides Kenta, waiter and ladiesman, Rina hires a chef named Takashi. He is a silent character but has hidden talents that unfold as the story continues. Director Kensuke Sonomura (“Nowhere Girl” 2015) creates a multilayered thriller dominated by criminal organizations and the actions of ice-cold killers. The dystopian atmosphere poses questions about revenge and its justification.

In the beginning, “Hydra”, is setting up a big blown up 80s vibe all over the screen. Flashy neon lights and a super cool score introducing the first seconds of the film. Here you would expect the movie to continue as an over the top homage to B-movie genre classics, but that’s wrong. Instead, we follow a more serious storyline with a modern screenplay and natural acting. Nothing, but the constant synthy soundtrack reminds of the initial retro approach. This inconsistency of style may be a let down for some viewers.

Hydra” is screening at Japan Film Fest Hamburg

The character development is also very shallow. Kensuke Sonomura, who used to be the action choreographer for Takanori Tsujimoto’s “Bushido Man” (2013), focuses rather on long martial arts scenes. Fast editing and agile cinematography help the well-trained actors to present their fights in an authentic way. Nevertheless, “Hydra” struggles to build up a personal relationship between the viewer and its characters. The main protagonist Takashi (Masanori Mimoto), playing the role of the savior, is the most interesting part of the cast and shows a solid performance, but his performance is not mirrored by the evil counterparts that he has to face. The villains are more like video game enemies, with no background and therefore easy to forget. They seem to appear out of nowhere and this is also where they disappear again.

“Hydra” misses out on many opportunities and fails to create suspense. For fans of well-choreographed fight scenes, who do not care so much about plot elements, “Hydra” is still worth a look.

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