July 23, 2021 (NYC)–Hydra Is a Small Film That Packs a Big Punch. Hydra is a Japanese martial arts action action drama released by Well Go USA this week. The film marks Kensuke Sonomura’s directorial debut and stars Masanori Mimoto as Takashi, the lead role. It is surprisingly good.
After retiring as an assassin, Takashi leads a quiet life as a chef at a sushi bar, where he secretly watches over the daughter of a former associate. His peace is short-lived: soon, he is recruited for a final job that he simply can’t refuse.
Unlike some of the high profile martial arts action film releases of recent days, like Mortal Kombat, Hydra is not a sensational film saturated with special effects and “larger than life” action scenes. Hydra is a tightly compact, low key thriller whose characters are compelling. Mimoto is a character of few words; however, there is great depth to his performance and, as a viewer, you can’t help but feel empathy for his pointless struggle to leave his violent past behind him. While this is an age old theme in the action genre, it resonates well in this film.
While the film is well scripted and well acted, it is the martial arts direction and choreography that really stands out in this one. Kensuke Sonomura joins a growing list of action and stunt directors that have transitioned from second unit to the film’s main Director. Like Jesse V. Johnson and John Wick’s, Chad Stahelski, Sonomura demonstrates that a martial arts action film can fully integrate a solid story with great fight and stunt choreography. This film does just that. Hydra is not just a movie with great fight choreography, it is a great movie.
Like 2019’s masterful Korean film, Revenger, Sonomura employs a gritty, realistic approach to the interesting, engaging, violent, and satisfying fight scenes in this film. The lack of “shaky-cam”, the lack of high wire acrobatics, and the lack of sequences that look good on film but would never occur in a real fight combine to make some hypnotic and memorable fight sequences. It helps that Mansori Mimoto is a gifted martial artist with a subtle, but strong, screen presence. I look forward to more from Sonomura, and from Mimoto.
Look for Hydra on Hi-Yah!, on Blue-ray, DVD and POD NOW!
Hydra is Japanese with English Subtitles.
MPA Rating: unrated, violence, sometimes graphic
Cast: Masanori Mimoto, Miu, Takashi Nishiona, Takaya Aoyagi, Tasuko Nagase, Satoshe Kibe and Kazunori Yajima
Credits: Directed by Kensuke Sonomura, script by Jiro Kaneko.
A Well Go USA release.
Running time: 1:17