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Review: Fall Guy

[The following review contains MINOR SPOILERS; YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!]

Fall Guy is the perfect English title for Kinji Fukasaku’s scathing satire on the entertainment industry and celebrity culture. The story's protagonist is a lowly member of an egotistical, abusive movie star's entourage; in order to prevent a potentially career-demolishing scandal, the endearingly hapless yes-man finds himself forced to marry his boss' pregnant mistress—thus "taking the fall" for somebody else's indiscretion. Being generous by nature (not to mention accustomed to blindly following instructions), our hero happily agrees to the assignment, accepting dangerous stunt work—most of which involves plummeting from great heights for meager wages—in order to financially support his (initially) reluctant bride and her unborn child. His loyalty and devotion, however, are put to the ultimate test when his tyrannical employer coerces him into attempting a particularly perilous tumble down a thirty-foot flight of stairs—all for the sake of cinematic spectacle.

I don't know if this wordplay is present in the film's native language, but I am absolutely overjoyed that the translators committed to the pun.

Featuring a delightfully maximalist tone (the comedy and melodrama are equally over-the-top), an irreverent sense of humor (the director of the fictional chanbara epic around which the plot revolves is way too enthusiastic about the possibility of capturing an actual death on camera), and plenty of crowd-pleasing cameos (including a brief appearance by frequent Fukasaku collaborator Sonny Chiba), Fall Guy is a postmodern masterpiece that brilliantly eviscerates the notion of being willing to “die for one’s art.” Passion, after all, is a wonderful quality... until it is callously exploited by those in positions of authority.

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