3 Seconds Before Explosion (1967)


(Directed by Motomu Ida aka Tan Ida) A director who did the majority of his work in the Mid-60s.

Akira Kobayashi stars as a special agent whose been assigned to a critical case. He’s to locate some stolen jewels that a newly freed country has lost. Can Kobayashi’s handsome, daring superspy overcome the jewel thieves and any others trying to get their ‘filthy mitts’ on the merchandise?

I’ll save you the trouble of speculating about the film’s feeling like a ‘Japanese James Bond’ picture. While there are some movies I’ve seen that resemble a Sean Connery spy-film, this isn’t necessarily one of them. The story, characters, and action are very familiar, but the lead character is much more professional than any of the Bond’s we’ve seen on screen. Super-spy Yabuki (Kobayashi) is much more by the book, and seems to be a master of the art of subterfuge. Although the movie is quite dated, I was entertained–mostly by watching the spies, thieves, and law enforcement scramble around over the valued jewels.

The action here is fast-paced, and the camera is in love with double takes, full zooms, and whirling around during fire fights or whenever characters were busy beating each other up. There isn’t too much to say about this movie, and I’m not sure there is any real reason to seek it out, unless you’re also curious as to what a standard spy-film looked like in 1960s Japan. I was, so while this was more of a study than anything, I was treated to some nice camera work from cinematographer Izumi Hagiwara. It felt like a period piece the way things were so dated–with the mobsters shooting what looked to be ‘fireworks’ from their barrels at night so the audience could see the muzzles flash. I even recall seeing a strange, fake spider killing scene to showcase just how proficient Yabuki was with his sniper rifle. At any rate, 3 Seconds Before Explosion may be hidden somewhere in your local library, but I wouldn’t recommend you actively seeking it out unless what I’ve spoke on interests you. The movie isn’t bad from an entertainment standpoint, although dated–but I feel some may be turned off by the cheesy, oft-used plot points and stiff acting of some of the characters.

For more information on the film, click here for the IMDB.com link.

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