ReviewWriter: Casey LeeWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
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After surviving a harrowing emergency landing from Japan en route to Kuala Lumpur, pantyhose salesman Ken Katakura (Naoto Takenaka) finds himself stranded in an airport without helpful public transport to find his way to the capital, not knowing that he is on the wrong side of the Peninsular.
What brings the small Japanese salaryman man all the way down south is to deliver several sample boxes of pantyhose to a factory in KL, but that's just a farce so that he can stop his daughter's, Yukari (Kie Kitano), wedding which he wasn't invited to. After being able to hitch a ride from an odd Chinese trucker that speaks broken Japanese who introduces himself as Mary (Hu Bing), "Ken & Mary" make the coast to coast trip to reach Ken's ultimate destination.
Director Kenta Fukasaku's co-production with local agencies and talents is a short trip in slapstick comedy, while acting partly as an extended tourism video for Malaysia. Thankfully, instead of another montage of our country's most iconic skyscrapers, the Malaysia here is depicted by quarried hills, endless palm oil plantation fields, impoverished 'kampungs' and schools, and beautiful blind strangers who are cons waiting in a corner (let's not forget that it is all in the name of 1Malaysia).
Ichiro Kusuno's debut screenplay for this buddy road trip movie is solid but with a few twists, and this factor is probably realized due to the limited resources that is apparent to the filmmakers here. The comedy between the characters Ken and Mary does have its moments, especially when involving Malaysian elements (a durian was going to be in this picture sooner or later), and the pair do make a great odd couple as they begin to know each other better. Hu Bing is a charismatic lead by his presence, but the limelight belongs to Takenaka (who also appeared in last year's "Ninja Kids") for pulling out all the stops by being more memorable through his performance than his looks (though seeing Kie Kitano in a wedding dress is good looking enough on its own merits).
"Ken & Mary" is a fun comedy. It beats many local productions in delivering the fun from stronger conceptual groundwork but it doesn't match up well as a fully-fledged Japanese comedy that is set in a tropical location. Still in retrospect, that probably works in favour for "Ken & Mary" because while some of the gags might seem bland, but it still gets your attention because it is something you don't always see.
If "Ken & Mary" was any longer than its 87 minute runtime, it might have lost its steam. But when you see a Japanese man chasing down a police cruiser with a truck loaded with multiracial Malaysians covering their faces with pantyhose, you won't regret to have seen it at all. Cinema Online, 18 September 2013