The Stairway to the Distant Past
Directed by Kaizo Hayashi
"I get 50,000 Yen a day, plus expenses," growls tough-talking detective Maiku "Mike" Hama (Masatoshi Nagase) in The Stairway to the Distant Past, the second part of director Kaizo Hayashi's stylish modern-day Japanese film noir trilogy. Picking up where The Most Terrible Time in My Life left off, Stairway delivers a knockout combination of widescreen color visuals and savvy pulp storytelling more luridly violent, outrageously ironic and sincerely affecting than its predecessor.
Broke, his vintage Nash convertible repossessed, private eye Mike Hama is reduced to combing the mean streets of the Yokohama waterfront on a borrowed bicycle. But when Lily, a beautiful stripper from out of Hama's past, returns to town, the fuse is lit on a criminal powder keg set to blow the lid off the Yokohama underworld. Hama's search for his long lost parents soon has him up to his neck in a simmering conspiracy pitting corrupt politicians, local Yakuza gangsters and the Taiwanese mafia against the mysterious "Man in White." Forced to admit the truth of his past to both himself and his plucky kid sister, Hama now must discover whether private eyes are born or made -- if he can just keep from getting killed first.
The Stairway to the Distant Past unites three generations of Japanese cinema icons as Masatoshi Nagase (Mystery Train) joins legendary Hiroshima mon amour art house heartthrob Eiji Okada, Seijun Suzuki muse Jo Shishido (Branded to Kill), and cult director Shinya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo) in a dazzling crime film dripping with retro gloss and irreverent post-modern cheek.
"Yokohama private eye and onetime juvenile delinquent Maiku Hama -- with his nifty threads, lacquered hair, perfectly angled cigarette, and sunglasses at night -- is an endearingly loopy vision of retro cool." - Dennis Lim, The Village Voice