Friday, 25 July 2014

NZIFF Film Review: "Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter" (2014).





For my fifth entry for the NZIFF, I have watched the eerie and peculiar little film called Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter. The film’s poster tagline reads “A Zellner Bros. adventure”, which is exactly what this American drama film is. Co-written and directed by David Zellner. The film tells the story of a jaded and lonely Japanese woman discovers a hidden copy of Fargo on VHS. She becomes convinced that the film to be a treasure map indicating the location of a large case of money buried and lost is in fact real and sets out to find it.

(*SPOILER ALERT!*) In the film Fargo (1996), Minneapolis car salesman Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) is desperate for money. With help from Shep Proudfoot (Steve Reevis), an ex-convict and mechanic co-worker, Jerry is introduced to criminals Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi) and Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare). After traveling to Fargo, North Dakota to meet the two men, Jerry hires them to kidnap his wife, Jean (Kristin Rudrüd), and ransom her for $80,000 to his wealthy father-in-law and boss, Wade Gustafson (Harve Presnell). In exchange, Jerry will provide Carl and Gaear with a new 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera and half of the ransom money. However, Jerry secretly intends to tell Wade that the ransom demand is for $1,000,000 and keep most of the money for himself.

Meanwhile, Jerry has been trying to convince Wade to lend him money for a real estate deal. As Wade becomes interested in the investment, Jerry tries to call off the kidnapping, but he is too late as Carl and Gaear are already en route to Minneapolis and cannot be reached. As it turns out, Wade intends to buy the property himself anyway and give Jerry only afinder's fee. Meanwhile, Carl and Gaear arrive in Minneapolis and kidnap Jean, but on the way back to their cabin hideout, they are stopped by a state trooper outside Brainerd, Minnesota . When Carl's attempt to bribe the trooper fails and arouses suspicion, Gaear quickly kills the trooper. Moments later, a couple in a passing car witnesses Carl moving the trooper's body off the road and they drive away. Gaear chases after them until they swerve off the road, enabling Gaear to kill them.

Jerry contacts Wade and Stan Grossman (Larry Brandenburg), Wade's accountant, claiming that the kidnappers insist on dealing only with Jerry. Wade and Stan accept this arrangement at first, but Wade later changes his mind and decides to deal with the kidnappers himself. Also, Carl angrily demands that Jerry give him and Gaear the entire $80,000 ransom as extra payment for the murders. Later, Carl, furiously, phones Jerry and demands he make the drop off that night at a parking garage. However, Wade, who was eavesdropping on their conversation, storms out in Jerry's place with the ransom in his briefcase. When he arrives, Wade refuses to hand over the briefcase to Carl until Jean is returned. Angered by Wade's demands and unexpected appearance, Carl kills Wade, but Carl is shot in the cheek by Wade. Jerry arrives at the scene's aftermath and puts Wade's body in his trunk. The next day, Carl discovers that the briefcase contains $1,000,000. He removes $80,000 to split with Gaear and buries the rest in the snow alongside the highway, marking the spot with an ice scraper.

One of the best films I've ever seen and a film like Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is one of the reasons why I love the movies. The trick which the Zellner Brothers have pulled is a combination of American cinema meets Eastern vibe.

Simon says Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter receives:


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