3 Seconds Before Explosion (Review)
3 Seconds Before Explosion
aka 爆破３秒前 aka Bakuha 3-Byo Mae
Screenplay by Hideichi Nagahara
Based on the novel by Haruhiko Oyabu
Directed by Motomu Ida (as Tan Ida)
3 Seconds Before Explosion uses the basic war treasure plot we’ve seen from flicks such as Black Tight Killers, but dials back the ridiculousness to try to become more James Bond than anything else. Yabuki (Akira Kobayashi) is the secret agent hero who fights to solve the case, which contains a bunch of kidnappings and treasure hunting in between the random action scenes.
At this point Akira Kobayashi was at the height of his popularity, having helmed multiple series for Nikkatsu, even becoming a pop star along the way. When you work through Nikkatsu’s Borderless Action films, you’ll see him just as often as Joe Shishido pops up, sometimes alongside Joe Shishido. While Shishido may have the fake cheeks that somehow made ladies swoon, with his natural good looks and bad boy charm, Kobayashi is much better suited to play a suave secret agent type that would have a numerical code name. When each actor walks into a nightclub scene and stands around smoking, Shishido looks like he’s sizing up the room to beat everyone up while Kobayashi just looks so cool he make everyone else look like rabble.
The comparison to Black Tight Killers bears repeating, because not only is there a war treasure, but people related to those involved in hiding the treasure are kidnapped. This time the villains are part of an international gang lead by a rapist German named Galen (Galen the German??), and the treasure belongs to the made up new nation of Rabaley. This switch from the treasure being ostensibly owned by Japan lowers the stakes, because nobody cares if a fake nation gets a random treasure. In fact, you might cheer for them to not get the treasure, because I hear Rabaleans are a bunch of jerks. Allegedly. Please don’t invade me, mighty Rabaley!
Yabuki is like a secret agent cat burglar, he is often dressed in black (even in broad daylight) and sneaking into places. He also can run fast, which somehow causes everyone shooting at him to be as accurate as Imperial Stormtroopers, leaving Yabuki bullethole-free even after 100+ rounds are fired at him at point blank range. The invisible shield of top billing.
At one point Yabuki is breaking into the compound of the villain Tachihara (Asao Uchida), and he is chased by a pack of German Shepards, but the group of dogs includes two collies, and all the dogs have excitedly happy expressions which makes the “menacing” pack look hilariously cute and like they are just a bunch of good doggies who want to play.
Yabuki is a popular guy, so he’s friends with the other agents who pop up, including former agent Yamawaki, who was in charge of guarding the jewels before they were stole out from under him. Yamawaki is carefully explained to be almost as good as Yabuki. Almost. There is also a singer named Nana (Katsue Takaishi), who is the reason Yamawaki is a former agent.
Despite all the coolness of Yabuki, the villains generally outclass him in both their strength and general planning. The hero wins not because he defeats them as they appear, but due to a clever switch that took advantage of the villains’ overconfidence at having defeated Yabuki rather easily.
When criminal mastermind Galen the German isn’t doing his rape thing, he’s busy making the term “actor” more of a suggestion than a job, bumbling through his lines and occasionally remembering that he’s supposed to be German, which means he peppers his speech with random German expressions and his accent is all over the map, except the part of the map where either Germany sat!
Aside from the ending ploy, overall I was disappointed with 3 Seconds Before Explosion, probably because I watched it right after the aforementioned Black Tight Killers. Had I known how similar they would end up being, I would probably have pushed back my viewing of Seconds a few weeks to let the amazement of Black Tight Killers to subside a bit.
Rated 3/10 (logo, jewels, rubber spider)
Please give feedback below!