By Dennis Hartley
(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on Dec 17, 2023)
Tokyo Pop (Kino Lorber/Indie Collect)
This 1988 film is a likable entry in the vein of other 80s films like Starstruck, Breaking Glass, Desperately Seeking Susan, Smithereens and The Fabulous Stains. Star Carrie Hamilton’s winning screen presence helps to buoy the fluffy premise. Hamilton (who does her own singing) plays a struggling wannabe rock star who buys a one-way ticket to Tokyo at the invitation of a girlfriend. Unfortunately, her flaky friend has flown the coop, and our heroine is stranded in a strange land. “Fish out of water” misadventures ensue, including cross-cultural romance with all the usual complications.
For music fans, it’s a fun time capsule of the late 80s Japanese music scene, and the colorful cinematography nicely captures the neon-lit energy of Tokyo nightlife. Director Fran Rubel Kuzui (who co-wrote the screenplay with Lynn Grossman) later directed the 1992 feature film Buffy the Vampire Slayer and went on to serve as executive producer for the eponymous TV series. Sadly, Hamilton (Carol Burnett’s daughter) died of cancer at age 38 in 2002.
This one has been on my reissue wish list for a while. Indie Collect’s 4k restoration is sparkling, and the colors are vibrant. Regarding the audio…it is nice and clean, but be ready to ride your volume control, as the music has about ten times the gain over the dialog (a noticeable trend in remastered film soundtracks that makes me crazy). There are no extras, but you can’t have everything, and I am just happy that I can finally retire my VHS copy!