The Mole Song: Final (2021) review [Fantasia Film Festival]

Introduction

While Takashi Miike has often filmed sequels, like Oretachi wa tenshi ja nai 2 (1993), Bodyguard Kiba: Combat Apocolypse 2 (1995), Crows Zero II (2009) and Zebraman 2: Attack on Zebra City (2010), it is less common that he completes a trilogy of films. The only two trilogies he finished to date is the Dead or Alive trilogy (1999, 2000, and 2002) and the Black Society trilogy (1995, 1997, 1999). Yet with the release of The Mole Song: Final Miike can finally add a third trilogy to his expansive oeuvre.

Review

To create a drug-free Japan, Reiji Kikugawa (Toma Ikuta) is forced to infiltrate the Sukiya-kai and find a way to arrest the 4th generation boss Shuho Tokoroki (Koichi Iwaki). His latest achievement as undercover agent and lieutenant of the Hiura clan, is the establishment of a cooperation between the Sukiya-kai and the Guillotine family, a Sicilian mafia clan known as the biggest global supplier of drugs.

Yet, the import of the drugs, in the form of pasta, ultimately does not happen in Italy. Hours before the transaction was about to take place, the pasta factory that produced the drugs was blown to smithereens. Without any kind of pasta in Japan, there is no proof to arrest Todoroki.

Luckily for Reiji, there was enough pasta-drugs safely stored away. So rather than the deal being called off, the transaction is merely postponed and its place changed to Yokohama harbor. Reiji thus embarks on his final mission to bring drugs-lord Tokoroki, once and for all, to justice. Yet, Masaya Hiura (Shinichi Tsutsumi), Reiji’s brother, found out everything about the drugs-deal and plans to crush the deal and murder his boss to build a new Sukiya-Kai.   

The Mole Song: Final (2021) by Takashi Miike

The Mole Song: Final offers the same absurdity, unpredictable silly turns, and pleasant twists that fans have come to expect from Japan’s most famous mole. Moreover, Miike’s narrative is rich on action – from electrifying whips, vicious braws, to superhuman action-moves – but is also sprinkled with a dash of touching romance.

That The Mole Song: Final is the final chapter of a trilogy is evident in its narrative structure. While many trilogies expect you to be up-to-date with the story, Miike’s narrative take the time to recall the important events of the previous films. This kind of summarizing is not only utilized  to highlight Reiji’s subjective logic but also to re-establish the dynamic of those relationships (i.e. the relationship between Reiji and sworn brother Hiura, his boss Todoroki, and Issei Nekozawa (Takashi Okamura) that will receive some kind of conclusion within the story.

This kind of exposition has the benefit in bringing newcomers to Reiji up to speed and to deliver some fan-service by refreshing the memory of fans of memorable moments of previous narratives. Yet, such exploration could have easily slowed down the unfolding of the present narrative. Luckily, Miike’s dynamic and the snappy editing ensures that the exposition never derails the fluid flow of the narrative.

The Mole Song: Final (2021) by Takashi Miike

This exposition, which takes more than half of the running-time, is important in setting the stage for the finale. Yet, the finale cannot commence without introducing two new characters that have, in some way or another, an impact on the trajectory of the narrative: Tokoroki’s son and successor Leo (Ryohei Suzuki), who wants to establish a global network of drugs-routes, and Yuma Samon (Karen Takizawa), chief of the Anti-Crime Unit, who will oversee the attempt to arrest Todoroki in Yokohama (Structure-note 1). 

The Mole Song: Final is, like its processors, a phallic action-comedy. The phallic element of the narrative is not only evident in the impact of Reiji’s unquenchable sexual drive and desire to be the object-of-desire for the female other on his actions, signifiers, and fantasies, but also in the ‘castrating’ dynamic between him and his girlfriend Junna (Riisa Naka). The Mole Song: Final beautifully underlines that a female subject is not only important in granting the male subject the possibility to feel as if he is the phallus for her but also that she has the power to shatter such fantasy, reduce him to tears, and confront him with who he really is: a castrated animal (Narra-note 1).

The Mole Song: Final (2021) by Takashi Miike

Miike’s narrative also touches upon the impact of betrayal. Reiji fully realizes that when he cuffs Todoroki his cover will be blown and any meaningful relationships, like with his brother Hiura, will be revealed as being erected upon deception. Even is his bond with anti-drug-yakuza Hiura feels real, the revelation of being a dog-of-the-police will not only radically reveal his yakuza-ego as a deceptive and mendacious facade but also unearth that his inscription into the symbolic structure of the Yakuza that oriented his imaginary bond with his brother, his alter-ego, was merely a ploy.  

Can Reiji, when the time comes, reveal himself as mole? Can he bring his mission of apprehending Todoroki to a good end? Can he survive the confrontation with phallic alpha Leo? Can he avoid a violent confrontation between him and his sworn brother Hiura (Narra-note 2)? But, most important of all, can Reiji, who by mere chance finds himself on the same cruise ship as Junna, get his girl back (Narra-note 3)?

The composition of The Mole Song: Final is highly dynamic andthe editing ensures that Miike’s narrative unfolds at a fluid and engaging pace. The light-heartedness is visually ensured by Miike’s peculiar use of props and effects. Rather than trying to fake a sense of realism, Miike does everything to stuff his visuals with elements that heighten the comical fabric of his narrative – e.g. utilizing puppets and plastic birds to visualize gulls, Nekozawa’s teeth, the visual effects, … etc. Other decorative elements, like the pop-culture interpretation of Botticelli’s Venus to visualize Reiji’s sexual fantasy of Junna and the depiction of Rosaria as mermaid, add a surge of visual excess into the compositional fabric that does not only light-heartedly emphasize Reiji’s marriage with his silly manly fantasy, but also puts the spectator in the mood for some silly light-heartedness.

The Mole Song: Final (2021) by Takashi Miike

 

The light-heartedness is, in our opinion, carried by the performance of Toma Ikuta. In fact, much of the pleasure in The Mole Song: Final is function of his facial expressions, the rhythm of his speech, and the subtle exaggeration of his movements. Yet, what also plays an important role in making this narrative so enjoyable is the contrast between Reiji, as marked by phallic silliness, and other characters, who are driven by more serious motives (Narra-note 4). Such contrast does not only emphasize Reiji’s quirkiness, which heightens the effect of the comical elements, but also enables Miike to create tensive sequences that succeed in putting the spectator on the edge of his seat.  

The Mole Song: Final delivers everything a fan of the previous narratives desires and even succeeds in inviting newcomers to delve into Reiji’s past exploits. While the Mole Song: Final seems, at first glance, a superficial yakuza comedy full of silly twists and sexual jokes, the narrative actually exposes an uncomfortable truth of male subjectivity, i.e. that it is, ultimately, a female subject that holds the power to confront him with his castration or to allow him to indulge in feeling that he is the phallus (for her).

Notes

Structure-note 1: While the character of Yuma Samon seems important at first – she seductively reveals Reiji’s phallic stupidity in a very pleasant scene, she has, when all is said and done, little impact on the resolution of the story.

Narra-note 1: Yet, it is not only at the level of romance that the dimension of Reiji’s phallic quality is evoked. The question whether Reiji can apprehend Todoroki is, in itself, phallic. Is he enough phallus to be the man to bring the boss of the Sukiya-kai to justice?  

Narra-note 2: It should be a given that, if Reiji reveals himself, Hiura will cling on the structure of their brotherhood (e.g. by keep calling him brother) and question his comportment from within this structure, by asking him, for instance, why he continued to lie to your own brother. If for Hiura, as yakuza, the inauguration of the relation of brothers remains valid despite Reiji’s deception, how can he inscribe this radical betrayal of the yakuza code within his yakuza-ego? 

Narra-note 3: Without revealing too much, the conclusion of their relational conflict resides in whether Reiji, after his romantic betrayal in Italy, remains the object of her desire, remains marks by the phallic shine that ensnares her desire. 

Acting-note 1: Ryohei Suzuki also delivers a great performance as Leo. He gives with his body and his words the phallic identification that structures his character its pleasant dramatic dimension.

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