Monday, April 01, 2024

Baby Assassins 2, on BluRay

Like typical Millennials, Chisato Sugimoto and Mahiro Fukagawa are rather surprised to learn their guild expects them to act like adults and pay their bills. Even after two years of steady work they still are not ready for responsibility, but they understand Assassins’ Guild does not take no for answer. They are clueless, but they still do their best to abide by the rules in director-screenwriter Yugo Sakamoto’s Baby Assassins 2, which releases tomorrow on BluRay and digital.

Sugimoto is still the bubbly and Fukagawa is still the withdrawn, anti-social one, but they work well together, because they both enjoy bingeing sugary desserts after a successful job. After two years of ignoring the guild’s bills for health insurance and its gym membership, the partners are informed they most pay-up at a certain bank, by a certain time, or else. The insurance is particularly costly, for obvious reasons. After a week of procrastination, they rush to the bank, with a few minutes to spare, at which time two armed robbers storm in.

Of course, there are strict rules governing the use of force by assassins, outside contract jobs, but Sugimoto and Fukagawa are facing a crisis. During their resulting suspension, two lunkheads erroneously figure they can take the two assassins’ places in the guild if they knock them off. It does not work that way, but the partners must be wary in how they respond.

Given its concern for the governance of an assassins’ guild,
Baby Assassins 2 is a lot like the John Wick franchise hopped-up on bubble tea and ice cream sundaes. It is also a reminder of a fact that was overlooked during the Writer’s Guild strike. Guilds are essentially cartels designed to keep competition out of a specific line of work. Makoto and Yuri might be perfectly competent assassins (as indeed they appear to be), but the Guild limits their ability to ply their chosen trade.

Even Sugimoto and Fukagawa might agree the lads deserved a better break, but business is business. Sakamoto’s business is goofball action—and business is booming throughout this sequel. Kensuke Sonomura’s fight choreography was maybe a bit stronger in the first film, but the follow-up features the funniest sequence of the duology, in which the feuding partners pummel each other while wearing furry animal costumes, in front of several shocked children.

Sonomura still has a knack for combining massive beatdowns with physical comedy. Co-leads Akari Takashi and Saori Izawa have a talent for parleying their silly situations and character quirks into audience good will. They are bratty messes, but you can’t help but root for them. Likewise, Tatsuomi Hamada and Joey Iwanaga portray Makoto and Yuri as total meatheads, but that makes them worthy rivals.

Wisely, Well Go USA appears to be leaning into Sonomura’s prolific butt-kicking output, since this is at least the fifth film he directed or choreographed that the distributor has released, also including
Hydra, Bad City, and One Percent Warrior. That is a smart strategy, considering the Hong Kong action movies that were once such a staple for them are now thoroughly compromised by the CCP. Japan is a fellow democracy and they make great action films, so importing titles from them makes much better sense. Baby Assassins 2 is a good example. It is a lot of messy fun. Highly recommended for action-comedy fans, it releases tomorrow (4/2) on BluRay and digital.