Kamen Rider W Returns: Accel
Now a lot of people aren’t going to be familiar with this film choice. The Tokusatsu series Kamen Rider W (Double) had been a great success after the rather horrid Rider season that preceded it. It did so well in fact that the titular character appeared in a number of Rider films in cross over, as well as having their own films. However Toei decided to have two direct to DVD, or V Cinemas about the secondary Rider of the series Kamen Rider Accel and the villain of the movie Kamen Rider Eternal, but today’s subject is just the first one:
KAMEN RIDER W RETURNS: ACCEL
Ryu Terui (Minehiro Kinomoto) or Kamen Rider Accel’s back story was established in the series and following movies. Starting out as an police chief anti hero on the path of revenge he eventually received Rider gear and fought alongside W, while also being romanced by the chief of the Narumi detective agency Akiko (Hikaru Yamamoto) and eventually marrying in the preceding film.
Anyway the movie is set after the marriage. With married life suiting them well,though Ryu is shown to put work first and still referring to his Wife as Chief, as he always has, despite her protests to call her by name. But that’s not where the film starts, initially opening on a gang of thieves that are attacked by a a bunch of men in body armour, Ryu rushing in to the rescue is forced to transform in Accel to fight them off. However their just some form of generated soldiers being controlled elsewhere. One particular thief (Aoi), a young girl refuses to trust Ryu and runs off.
The main plot of the film really starts when he catches up with her the next day, he tries to protect her when they are attacked by the grunts again, however due to her distrust of police Aoi pick pocketed Ryu of his Accel Gaia memory leaving him unable to transform in Accel. Resorting to his hang gun he fights them off until inspector Jinno arrives to help them escape, however the Grunts commander reveals himself as a Dopant, beats up Ryu, shoots Jinno with his guy framing him and finally strapping a bomb to Aoi in order to force her to recover an item she had stolen from him previously.
Leaving Ryu a fugitive he is forced to help Aoi recover the item, revealed to be a Gaia memory enhancer, which is in possession the leader of the thieves, eventually they recover the booster but are caught up with by the police. With one of them taking Aoi away she recognises the second in command as the owner of the Commander Gaia memory and places his badge on Ryu so he’ll be able to recognise the owner.
Making his escape from being arrested Ryu, taking a bus which Akiko gets dragged onto as well (under the belief that Ryu is cheating on her with Aoi after seeing them on the news), finds the cop and Aoi, while he reveals that Aoi had his Memory he tries to recruit Ryu into becoming a killer of criminals to purge the world, refusing the commander uses the booster and beats Accel up, severely wounding his leg. Shotaro and Philippe arrived and transform into W to fight the grunts and tell Ryu how to stop the bomb from detonating, the Commander Dopant makes off with Akiko deciding to kill her so that he would feel the same as him (his wife being killed by a criminal that set him on his path of hatred). He sets Akiko up on a high crane and destroys it when Ryu catches up (crippled with his injured leg) however Aoi manages to sneak up on the Commander and steal the Booster, throwing it to Ryu who uses it to transform into Accel Booster form, allowing him to fly and save her, defeat the Commander and make up with Akiko.
Now I’ve skimmed through the plot and left a lot out, but really if your reading if then your most likely to have seen this film and know of Kamen Rider W, if not then watch it for everything that I have left out as there is a lot there, I’ll point out a lot of that as I go though the characters though.
First though I think special mention needs to go to Koichi Sakamoto, the director of the film at at this point in time possibly one of the most important people in Tokusatsu, he directed a number of Toku films, including the W movie A-Z the Gaia Memories of Fate. He has a particular passion for fights outside of Rider suits which lends itself perfectly to this film given Ryu is without his Accel memory except for the bookends of the film.
Terui Ryu himself is a bit of an anomaly in the film… given that the whole movie is based around him I’m pretty sure that he learns nothing through the plot, nor does his character actually get developed further. He is who he is, and expect him to be through the film, he never responds to Aoi’s advances, only for a second does he seem to consider becoming like the Commander for a second but he never changes in himself, its more other characters accepting him, mostly Akiko but also the Police Chief who believes he’s responsible fro the murders when he’s framed, to his credit he does own and and apologise when he realises he suspected the wrong person of being the Dopant, something I doubt he would have done when his character was originally introduced. However that may very well be the point of this, given its release is straight to DVD there’s no hindering or dumbing down, Ryu is a bad ass and for the first time we actually get to see him in full, as a person and not a rider, and not restrained by what they can get away with on TV. Of course I’m talking about the fight scenes, combining Koichi’s love of out of suit combat added with his ability to do make very gritty choreography and with Ryu being such a bad ass you really see it. While Ryu acts the tough guy I never really believe the actor himself could pull off the awesome fighter routine, most of the time there’s never a need to that’s what suit actors are for… we this shut me up! The mid film fight where Ryu storms the thief leader’s restaurant he kicks ass and does it very well, even going as far as to hit someone in his throat, which looks awesome. Its just great to watch and he has a great screen presence during these fight scenes, even more so during the shoot out, and that’s something I rarely expect from a Kamen Rider with guns usually reserved for military grunts and often presented as useless against monsters.
It seems like most of the character development is reserved for the 2 female leads of the film, Akiko and Aoi, I’ll discuss Aoi first though. A classic redemption and trust issues case, prior to the film Aoi’s Dad is killed by a corrupt Policeman (The Commander Dopant/Officer Sagami) which leaves her distrustful of Police. Initially she naturally has no belief in Ryu at first to protect her, leading her to steal his Accel Memory. Though after being forced to run with him after a the bomb is attached makes her come to trust in him, and even develop feelings for him, while they are never returned he shows to have faith in her to become a good person and leave behind her life of thievery, even after finding out she stole his memory he has faith in her. At the close of the film she is a different person and trusts not just Ryu but Detective Ohno who offers to sponsor her rehabilitation.
Akiko’s part in this story is where the film suffers most, possibly the only issue I have with the film but its major. While Akiko is shown to have issues with Ryu refusing to call her be her name, always referring to her as ‘Chief’, an understandable concern, after seeing him on the run with Aoi immediately concludes that he if seeing this mystery woman. She displays no faith in her husband despite never showing and signs of being unhappy. Its made worse when at the magician’s case someone makes a divorce joke, even presenting her with a divorce form that she takes seriously. When eventually confronting Ryu while giving chase to the Dopant she gives him no chance to explain himself, and at least to her credit Ryu doesn’t attempt to given he is trying to stop the Dopant, but this leads to the eventual slap scene when Akiko finally breaks. The problem with this is that a while her fears in her mind are very true she’s never given Ryu the benefit of doubt, and she’s demanding answers while he’s clearly trying to attempt a rescue, she knows well enough he’s a policeman above all and will do what’s has to be done to save a life.
The sub characters in this film are a mixed bunch, naturally Shotaro and Philippe appear through the film, but in reduced roles, however unlike Akiko when they hear about Ryu’s sitution they conclude that he’s not the shot of person to commit such a crime and escape police watch to aid him, something Akiko should have concluded given she’s his wife. They naturally transform into W but only to allow Ryu to fight the commander one on one, drawing the digital grunts he can spawn. Inspector Jinno, while spending the second half of the film wounded actually steals the show, shown as an inept policeman he runs to aid Ryu during the shoot and has his own fight scene which is a fantastic homage to Jackie Chan comedy fights, also as the comedy relief seeing him get shot really changed the tone of the film which I found exhilarating. The only other major support character is Detective Ohno, a red herring introduced for Ryu to suspect of being the Dopant, set up to see Ryu as a bad guy, however he sees sense in the end even sponsors Aoi’s rehabilitation.
Ohno’s second in command Officer Sagami is the villain of the movie, while you learn a lot about him that you come to understand when he’s on such a vendetta against criminals. There are a lot of parallels between him and Ryu; essentially being what Ryu could have so easily come to be with perhaps not for the meeting of Shotaro, Philippe and Akiko who became his family and friends. That really could be the major difference between them, their development can villain and hero could just be that it was other people who shaped their path, with Sagami deadline with his wife’s murder on his own. Though Ryu had to deal with this at first his rage was quelled by people who became his friends and believed in him. He spends the whole film attempting to recover the Gaia memory booster, while also attempting to recruit Ryu to his cause, however his character becomes more tragic and identifiable the more you learn about him, which makes him an affective Villain and worthy of the film.
The last thing to look at would be the suit combat, while there is very limited to the start and end of the film. The opening act features Accel fighting in his base form, with choreography very much in the style of Power Ranger’s RPM, given Sakamoto’s work there its unsurprising and fits very well with the bike theme of Accel. The end of the film features crushed down uses of all Accel’s powers to show their useless ness against the Commander Dopant, Accel Trial form is used to disarm the bomb but after that isn’t used again, bike form is tossed aside quickly to. Booster form is a special effects laden excuse for an upgrade, looking bulky and really only made for flying (due to Ryu’s leg being badly damaged at that point) The effects used for the booster’s flying is horrid and could be done in photo shop in 5 minutes, given the rest of the films use of piratical effects I don’t’ see the need for useless CGI out of the transformations where its expected.
Over all Kamen Rider W Returns: Accel is a fantastic and far more adult change of pace for Rider shows, a great action packed film with a great set of characters, its worth watching, even if you don’t like W. Koichi Sakamoto shows off some great direction and takes the action to a new level, justifying his attachment to recent Tokusatsu shows. Put simple if your at all interested in Tokusatsu you should give this film at try! Excluding Akiko’s role in the film you won’t be disappointed.
Posted on 01/27/2012, in Film Review, Toku Review and tagged accel, Action, booster, colour, Commander, Darida Ryata, double, fight, film, gaia, henshin, kamen, Koichi, koichi sakamoto, magic, memory, movie, philippe, poster, power rangers, review, Reviews, rider, rpm, ryatta, ryu, Sakamoto, samurai, sentai, shotaro, super, Toku, tokusatsu, transform, trial, v cinema, w. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.