Action/Comedy/Drama | Well Go USA Entertainment | Runtime: 95m | Rating: UR
Written and Directed By: Hugo Sakamoto
Starring: Akari Takaishi, Saori Izawa, Masanori Mimoto
Synopsis: After graduating, two teenage assassins are instructed by management that they need to live together and find normal jobs as a cover for their real work. But after a run-in with a member of the Yakuza goes wrong, they will need to rely on each other to survive the retaliation that comes their way.
I’ve loved martial-arts movies since I was a kid, and as a film critic, I watch close to 200 movies a year so many that fail to leave an impression just get forgotten in the mix. Hugo Sakamoto’s Baby Assassins was a dual delight as it highlights precision fight choreography, with a bold and bizarre comedic tone to result in something that feels truly unique and entertaining. Something that feels driven by its own creative ambition, and not simply duplicating others in the genre. Admittedly Baby Assassins has its noticeable flaws, but its strengths are what lure you in almost immediately.
The story centers on two teenagers that also happen to be assassins. The bright and high-spirited Chisato (Takaishi), and the more somber and reserved Mahiro (Izawa). They couldn’t be more normal in terms of teenagers vegging out on the couch with their faces in their phones. But as a duo they couldn’t be more different which results in a charming day-to-day undercurrent for the film as they navigate living together with their clashing personalities. Both Takaishi and Izawa are perfect in their roles. They clearly know the intent of their characters and they lean in on those personality traits with an appealing authenticity. Their chemistry together has a smooth flow that captures humor, friendship, touches of emotion, and it’s easily engaging simply because of their likability.
The action is where this movie absolutely shines. It’s all expertly crafted. I watch countless action movies each year and have seen so many gritty, visceral martial-arts themed showdowns on screen, yet Baby Assassins delivers pleasantly violent fight sequences that are dynamic, intricate, and feverishly paced to have you on edge. Izawa is superb as she unleashes waves of offense, and quick-timed defense on her opponents which is dazzling to witness. And for her turn, Takaishi shows glimpses of John Wick with guns in her hands as she gracefully kills anything in her path while never losing her bubbly energy. These fast-paced moments of eccentric hyper violence, and when Izawa and Takaishi are sharing quiet scenes as roommates is when Baby Assassins is at its best and successful in delivering a good time.
The plot however is a bit of a mess and lacking cohesiveness and general purpose. Takaishi and Izawa make the most of their characters, but there isn’t much of a story to invest in. When the action isn’t filling the screen and our teenage assassins aren’t maneuvering their odd couple subplot, Baby Assassins is more than a little disjointed. There are plenty of wild characters sprinkled into the progression, but they sort of pop in here-and-there and when they do, it almost feels like they’ve already been introduced in some missing scene. They show up like you’re supposed to know who they are, and what their role in this plot is, which does hinder being completely captivated.
Regardless, with Izawa and Takaishi going all-in on these characters, and effectively creating the duality of common teens and high-skilled killers, there certainly is plenty of fun to be had. It’s a high energy movie that keeps a quick pace. It creates a delightful oddball atmosphere and awesome action. All of which I think for genre fans, will be able to compensate for a main plotline that seems almost completely absent.
Anthony J. Digioia II © 2022 SilverScreen Analysis. All Rights Reserved.