In Nobody (1999), three salarymen -- Konishi, Taki & Nobu (Hideo Nakano, Masayo Kato & Riki Takeuchi) -- are out drinking in an after hours club, enjoying comraderie. They have an unfortunate encounter with three gangsters, one of whom plays with a Zippo lighter (Kenichi Endo). Konishi, the nerd among the salarymen, is later cornered by the gangsters, & lucky to have survived.
At the office the next day they collude quietly & decide to find those thugs & get revenge. The two more elegant salarymen have a large yet insecure sense of their own dignity. Nanbu especially has trouble forgetting their humiliation. Taki, who translates short stories on the side, would be glad if something could be done to balance the scales of indignity.
They later surprise themselves when they encounter the most psycho-looking of the gangsters on his own. Our regular ol' office workers manage to beat him to a pulp, leaving him unconscious in an underpass.
The film noir soundtrack enhances the mood of mystery. Once the salarymen have had their revenge, they'd be satisfied to leave it at that. But Taki receives a calmly censorious phone call telling him, "How cruel. He died. But don't worry. We won't go to the police. We'll be visiting you."
Taki picks up a strange woman one rainy night, Rika by name (Hiromi Nakajima), after she steps in front of his Buick. There seems to be a new plot thread developing, perhaps one of odd romance, but there's something hinky about Rika from the start.
Our three anti-heroes keep searching the newspapers for a report of a man found beaten to death in an underpass. The lack of a report puzzles them no end. Konishi gets the next call from "the Zippo guy" & wigs out. He's told to show up for a meeting & when he foolishly does so, one of the tough guys sticks a pair of scissors in his chest.
Our guys don't really know if the thugs they encountered were yakuza or themselves possibly white collar workers, of a meaner stripe. Not knowing who or what they're up against & what might happen to them next has them frightened & in constant distress.
Nanbu visits a yakuza friend for advice, & to purchase an illegal gun. When Nanbu is attacked from the dark distance by someone with a crossbow, it's a shocking moment, more shocking still when Nanbu is finished off with a gun.
When Taki realizes the police really don't have much interest in the case, he gets his hands on Nanbu's gun, though it hadn't kept Nanbu alive. There'll be a shoot-out on a naval base, following a strange little revelation about who the bad guys really are. Detective Karachi gets killed along with the second of the three bad guys, & the last remaining bad guy shows up at the hospital where Kinishi is recovering from his scissors wound. At the climax it's Taki vs. the guy with the Zippo in a last rather exciting shoot-out.
The gun battles fall into cinematic fantasy through & through, but the larger suspense of the film comes from the fact that ordinary white collar guys have come to blows in a manner that emulates gangster movies, testing what ordinary guys would do if cinematic scenarios intruded on their commonplace lives. The twists in the end are pretty damned effective, & the capper is when we find out what would be a salaryman's only legitimate useful use for a necktie.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl