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The Asian ApertureSalvage Mice (2011)
POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, March 24, 2013    Share

Starting this week I began watching Comic Book Men hosted by Kevin Smith, a reality show about life as a store clerk inside a comic book store. This led to watching With Great Power: The Story of Stan Lee, an inspiring documentary on how Lee rose up from the economic strain of the Great Depression to how he got into comics and how his wife encouraged him to create so many wonder iconic characters. I mainly read manga so I watch shows like this to find out what in going on in the West just to stay somewhat in the culture. Anyway, I was looking for a way to tie superheroes into Asian pop culture and I found it in a Japanese movie called Salvage Mice.

22-year old Mitsuki Tanimura plays the leader of a group called Salvage Mice. Her main goal in life is to recover lost treasures and return these items to their rightful owners. Now there are those who would oppose her so she must rely on her karate skills to crush her opponents. Mitsuki is one part Indiana Jones and one part Bruce Lee. She goes out on assignments wearing a black mask that reminds me of Katoís mask from The Green Hornet, (it is hard to escape the Lee influence.) Mitsuki is out with her male partner as they break into a museum to retrieve an artifact. Little does she know that a rival gang is also inside the museum, beating up useless security guards and that her partner will betray her and frame her for the crime. Her main rival is a young girl who flips through the air delivering bone crushing kicks while wearing white sweats with a white hood that she constantly keeps on. The women in Salvage Mice are clearly better fighters than the men with beautifully choreographed fight sequences that are sure to please even harden action fans who think they have seen it all. It used to be Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li that were exciting moviegoers but with the decline of bankable stars in Hong Kong and the success of Quentin Tarantinoís Kill Bill movies starring the fighting schoolgirl Gogo there has been a shift away from kung fu to Okinawan karate with a tidal wave of movies coming over from Japan and now showing on Netflix. Salvage Mice is no exception because the filmís second hero is Mio Usagi who is the feisty leader of a small group of high school kids determined to keep Hiroshima clean. When some trashy Yakuza thugs discrete a sign by pouring beer on it, she is forced into hard hitting karate action. The thugs underestimate her small frame and cute schoolgirl uniform but they donít expect rapid punches to the face that had them knocked unconscious and laying on the ground. Mio is dedicated to only two things, keeping Hiroshima clean and practicing karate. This proves to be a winning combination for the city.

Eventually Mio and Mitsuki join up and Mio slowly begins to accept Mitsukiís ideas to salvage lost items and return them. Mio always wears a similar black mask and together they are Salvage Mice.
The thugs are big and mean and it is all the more amusing when they get spin kicks to the face. It is so much fun to watch large men being beaten by small girls who explode into action. It is expected to see a muscular icon like Bruce Lee kicking and punching the villains but it is more entertaining to me to see young girls able to perform similar feats. If you are smaller than your opponent then your martial arts techniques need to be perfect to work. A large person can get away with sloppy techniques due to size while a smaller person needs to quickly deliver strikes to precise pressure points to bring their opponents down and that adds to the old clichť the bigger they are the harder they fall.

Salvage Mice lacks the jaw dropping stunt work of Jackie Chan but it does have actors who have clearly studied martial arts. This is in contrast to Hong Kong where the film industry just takes various TV and movie personalities and tries to make him or her look good by using wires. You can still spot the soap opera star who punches with no power at all. Mitsuki and Mio are able to bring it and you can see the hours of karate training coming out. This is good news for action fans because Jackie Chan and Jet Li are getting old and fresh new talent is on the rise from Japan in the form of karate. There have been hundreds of kung fu movies from the 70ís through the 90ís and only a dozen or so karate movies that have real karate. It is a pleasure to watch the women kick butt and I havenít been this excited since seeing the powerful Etsuko Shihomi in the Sister Street Fighter series, popular in the 70ís.

Mitsuki Tanimura is a young star to watch. She has already appeared in Tokyo Zombies and Takashi Miikeís 13 Assassins and her future looks good.

So do yourself a favor and give Salvage Mice a chance, it is currently streaming on Netflix and is sure to please action fans all over the world.

Highly Recommended

5 Stars out of 5

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2013 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2013 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.

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