Yugo Sakamoto’s “Baby Assassins” might not quite be an action-comedy in the purest sense, but it definitely lightens up what may think about assassin movies substantially.
“Baby Assassins” keeps its tone more on the softer side but delivers on the grime and sweat of its action when the time comes. That it does so in a story that essentially boils down to post-secondary education career considerations makes it refreshingly different while its action scenes offer plenty of what it promises.
Japanese teenagers Chisato (played by Akari Takaishi) and Mahiro (played by Saori Izawa) hide a bigger secret from the world than the average adolescents, with the two leading double lives as assassins for hire.
Their skill in their field of work is belied by their true challenge of moving into the same apartment with their extremely at-odds personalities and getting part-time work to cover for their assassin missions.
However, their challenges gradually begin forcing them to work together as circumstances, new missions, and the Yakuza all converge onto their lives.
Baby Assassins is an Anti-Buddy Movie
The simmering friction between Chisato and Mahiro is more the basis for the story of “Baby Assassins” than even their actual assassin lives.
As a team, they’re a pairing of opposites, and much of the movie is devoted to them simply trying to find the groove of being both roommates and co-workers.
Takaishi and Izawa both keep the quieter moments of “Baby Assassins” strong for viewers with their understated chemistry. At the same time, it’s more of a suppressed anger on both of their parts at their shared unhappiness and the control their assassin lives call upon them to exercise. That second area is where “Baby Assassins” really shows what it’s made of.
Kensuke Sakamoto’s Fight Choreography Delivers!
The action of “Baby Assassins” is handled by Sensuke Sakamoto, who has worked his magic on previous Japanese action movies like “The Machine Girl”, “Bushido Man”, and many others. His more recent work on “Hydra” created quite a splash, and he injects that same raw intensity into the fight scenes and gunplay of “Baby Assassins”.
The movie kicks off with a double whammy of unveiling Chisato’s life as an assassin and her escaping a convenience store kidnapping that is a visceral war between her and her enemies.
The director balances the action and drama of “Baby Assassins” well in its middle portion with Chisato and Mahiro doing their best in part-time gigs they’re miserable in, and which eventually blur the lines with their assassin lives when the Yakuza arrive at their workplace.
However predictable a comparison it might be to make liken any assassin movie these days to “John Wick”, “Baby Assassins” unequivocally does that in its finale when the armed and Chisato and Mahiro take on an underground criminal compound with machine guns, blades, and their own greatly harnessed fighting skills.
The highlight of the movie, by far, is Chisato’s showdown with a Yakuza hitman, played by Masanori Mimoto of “Hydra” fame.
The Fight Scenes have a Unique Sound Effect
As was the case there, Sakamoto’s outstanding fight choreography has an unusual auditory component in the emphasis it places on the two fighter’s clothes rippling through the air with each strike.
This adds nearly as much to the fight scenes of “Baby Assassins” as the impact moments of each hit do to make the audience feel the depth of the action unfolding.
If it’s a trend Sakamoto is trying to get rolling in making martial arts fights even more gripping with a not typically tapped into sound effect, consider KFK onboard!
Final Thoughts on “Baby Assassins”
Assassin movies all have to come with a gimmick unique unto themselves, and “Baby Assassins” has a new one indeed with its tale of two teenaged assassins having to maintain side hustles for the sake of their cover while breaking each other in as roommates.
Kensuke Sakamoto’s action scenes are also as simultaneously crisp and raw as ever, an unusual but refreshing combination for an assassin movie whose tone shifts from borderline light-hearted to harrowingly dark almost on a dime with a deft skill in doing so.
“Baby Assassins” means business as an action movie, and a Friday night stream on Hi-YAH! comes well-recommended both for “Baby Assassins” and more generally when it comes to the martial arts-packed queue of Hi-YAH!