on November 10, 2000 by Wade Major
   Japanese filmmaker/actor Sabu engineers a compelling fable in "Non-Stop," a fascinating tale of crisscrossing fortunes in which three entirely different men find themselves inadvertently entangled with one another in unexpectedly life-altering ways.

   Through fate and circumstances beyond their control, a would-be bank robber, a convenience story clerk/rock singer and a Yakuza mobster all wind up in a bizarre urban steeplechase in which the concept of "running away" is vigorously dissected, in both its literal and abstract sense.

   To those not accustomed to the particulars of Japanese cinema, the film may seem somewhat idiosyncratic--a sly cocktail of Hong Kong/Tokyo-style Asian chic, offbeat comedy, rousing chase scenes and a good dose of European-style art cinema. Part "Run Lola Run," part Seijun Suzuki hipster gangster film, "Non-Stop" is frequently enthralling, sometimes confusing and always engaging, a gritty, stylish film that never misses a beat, even if it sometimes hammers a bit too hard to drive them home. At the same time, for all of its very conscious efforts to make some very salient points about life and society, "Non-Stop" can be extremely tense and entertaining, featuring some strenuously exciting foot chases.

   Japanese films, of course, have always hunkered down between Europe and Hollywood and "Non-Stop" is no different. At times it embraces a sense of reckless, commercial abandon while at others it enjoys indulging in the vague and enigmatic. What is so rewarding is the seamless agility with which it dances between the two.    Starring Tomoro Taguchi, Diamond Yukai and Shinichi Tsutsumi. Directed by Sabu. Written by Sabu. Produced by Masaya Nakamura. A Shooting Gallery release. Drama. Japanese-language; subtitled. Unrated. Running time: 82 min.

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