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Home > City Hunter (2024): A Review

City Hunter (2024): A Review

City Hunter (2024): A Review

Another One?!

It seems as though Netflix has become the premier streaming service when it comes to anime adaptations, as it has released yet another live-action adaptation of a beloved anime. The anime in question is none other than City Hunter! The original manga and anime follow a crack shot private detective, Ryo Saeba, with playboy/pervert tendencies. He is joined by his partner and sidekick Kaori Makimura, the sister of his ex-partner Hideyuki Makimura. This series was popular in the ‘80s and ‘90s in both the eastern and western spheres. So popular, in fact, that multiple live-action adaptations from multiple countries have been made, one of the most famous ones being from Hong Kong and starring action comedy legend Jackie Chan. Ironically, this is the first time a live-action adaptation of the series has come from the manga’s place of origin. Directed by Yuichi Sato and starring Ryohei Suzuki and Misato Morita as Ryo and Kaori respectively with Netflix handling production. The question is, does this latest entry surpass past attempts at bringing this series to life?

Modern Take On An Old Story

Newcomers to City Hunter need not worry about getting lost during this film as it is its own thing/abridged version of the franchise. Ryo and Kaori don’t start off as partners; instead, viewers will watch these two get closer together as they work together on a big case. The first half of this film comes in strong. The characters are full of life, and the central conflict is revealed. The pacing for this portion feels just right, with viewers having enough time to ponder the events unfolding. Somewhere around the halfway point, however, things take a turn for the worse. It’s as if one of the Netflix executives visited the set and told the crew to hurry things along despite being on track. All of a sudden, things become predictable and the plot feels rushed. Characters start betraying each other back to back. Sometimes, there’s seemingly no rhyme or reason to these betrayals either, just shock value. The final villain is also lackluster, with his face not being revealed until the very end. At this point, however, this final villain falls flat, with the prior villains feeling more memorable.

The film is set in modern day Japan, which might throw some people off. The original series took place in the ‘80s and ‘90s, with an aesthetic to match. Even the French live-action adaptation adhered to this aesthetic to some degree. This change doesn’t necessarily hurt the film; however, fans of the original may feel as though something’s off on first viewing.

Fake Punches, Real Laughs

Big surprise, this film is an action-comedy film through and through. Focusing on the action first… it’s serviceable. The action feels okay enough, with a mix of both CGI and actual choreography. It feels familiar and will certainly give viewers John Wick vibes. This is mainly due to its use of gun fu as well as grappling in many of its fight scenes.The gun fu is definitely fitting considering Ryo is supposed to be a crack shot; he even shoots a grenade in mid-air in the anime itself. There are similar moments in the film, with Ryo shooting a thug in a crowded nightclub with 100% accuracy or shooting a sniper with a revolver without missing. These scenes can be remarkable; however, sometimes the CGI is too distracting and takes away from the scene.

The comedy portion of this film will be a hit or a miss for some viewers. Anyone unfamiliar with the humor of anime or even Japanese shows in general will be strongly put off. People familiar with this kind of humor, however, will strongly enjoy it. It’s one of the few live-action adaptations to properly nail anime humor without coming off as too cringy (it still has its moments). That isn’t to say there is only anime-based humor, as the film references a bunch of pop culture, including the tablecloth trick (an ode to Mr. Uekusa who performs risque stunts involving his modesty) and references to Genshin Impact (the gacha game with an anime aesthetic that copies The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild).

Acting…But With Drip  

The most most important thing to get right in this adaptation was always going to be the chemistry between the two leads. Ryo is a master class fighter, able to use any weapon he can get his hands on. His only weakness is beautiful women, and his pervert switch automatically flips whenever he’s in the presence of one. Serious when he needs to be, Ryo can be wacky most of the time, with Kaori often being the “serious man” to his wackiness. This dynamic still exists in the film to some degree, but there are also times where Kaori is sort of just… there. It’s hard to pinpoint why it feels like this; whether due to the writers or the actress, it feels like she’s just along for the ride rather than an actual character. Ryohei Suzuki does a fantastic job of showcasing the wacky and serious sides of Ryo, going from lecherous old man in one scene to reliable knight in shining armor in the next. Of course, the perverted side of this character may miss his stride with a portion of modern audiences. In one scene, for instance, Kaori is in his headquarters and the place is filled with porn lying around. While still a funny scene, it’s not hard to watch without immediately thinking “wow, this guy is just straight up addicted to porn.” It is difficult to know whether or not moments like these are intended, like looking at a character through a modern lens.

The surprising highlight of this film has to go to its costume design, as many characters, Kaori in particular, are “dripped out.” That is to say that these characters all have their own sense of style. Easily pulling off the double denim look, Kaori looks like she walked out of a Beams photoshoot with such a cool and modern style that fits her tomboyish look. Then there’s Ryo, who looks like a straight-up men’s fashion model, often wearing turtlenecks and trench coats that scream “elegant flasher.” 

The Verdict

This particular live-action adaptation takes a special spot amongst Netflix’s other adaptations. It certainly isn’t outrageously bad like some of their other adaptations, such as Death Note or Cowboy Bebop. It also, however, isn’t up there with the likes of One Piece either. It’s one of Netflix’s only decent live-action adaptations. The question is, is that good enough? Just because an adaptation doesn’t feel like a slap in the face to the fans doesn’t necessarily make it a good adaptation. This is especially true considering how many live-action adaptations this particular series already has. For Netflix, this film does a good job, but amongst other City Hunter adaptations, it’s far from the top.

City Hunter (2024) Official Netflix Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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A lover of gore and over the top violence, no movie can make my stomach squirm. The only thing better than a bloody death scene is a well choreographed stunt. Whether it be action or horror, if it has blood in it, then I've likely already seen it.

Cailen Fienemann is a current student at Le Moyne College pursuing her BA in English and Communications with a film studies minor and a creative writing concentration.  Though uncertain about her career end-goals, any job that allows her to write is a cherished one indeed.