The simple sleek shapes of two police helicopters glide through the air, framed by an unassuming blue sky. As they are joined by more of their kind, their destination is slowly revealed. A cruise ship in Tokyo harbor. Soon the water is buzzing with police boats, and on land the asphalt welcomes caravans of armoured law enforcement vehicles belonging to the Japanese SWAT team, and as hordes of soldiers line up in front of the ship, the sheer magnitude of this operation becomes apparent. But something's amiss. Inside the ship, passengers are guarded by a crack team terrorists unlike any others. They are cops, and this is a drill.
The "terrorists" are played by the best of the best, Detective Aoshima and his colleagues from the Wangan Police station. How this curious siege ends is not important, what counts is that these police officers finally have something to do. For a long time they've been pining for a decent case, but so far their prayers have gone unanswered. It's as if all the citizens in the precinct has given up on crime. A few schoolgirls attacked by a mysterious guy, who bites them on the neck, and a family of con artists is the best this neighbourhood has to offer.
Aoshima and his female partner Sumiré are forced to take on these two simple cases, for lack of something better to do. But then their luck changes. The body of a CEO is found is found in their precinct, strung up in a macabre public display of S/M proportions. Finally a good solid case! Unfortunately this case is too big. The body isn't even cold before a team from police HQ arrives and bulldozer their way into the precinct to take over. The local police chiefs know all too well that the best thing they can do is get out of the way, so they simply stand back and watch as their humble station is turned into a multimedia nirvana of faxes, computers and surveillance equipment to be used only by the new team.
The hotshots from HQ are led by the ambitious Superintendent Okita, who care little for the locals, and seizes every opportunity to humiliate them. As the high profile case takes shape under the watchful eye of the media, the Wangan officers must face the fact that their own cases are now reduced to second priority.
But there's only so much Aoshima will stand for...
"Bayside Shakedown 2" can easily be watched with no knowledge of the previous film. The events of the first "Bayside Shakedown" is briefly mentioned one or two times, but never in detail, and never in a way that affects the story radically. So basically this is a fresh start.
The main plot line - the search for the CEO killer - is decent enough, but feels like it's plucked from some dusty English afternoon crime show. The subplots - the locals' search for the serial biter and the con family - have a light tone, and while the idea to balance the humorous vignettes with the more serious plot strands work on some levels, it also it robs the film of any real sense of danger or urgency and makes it seem more like a comedy that an action-thriller. However, about halfway through the film the various plot lines converge, and from then on the film seems to hit its stride.
Ironically this otherwise very light film has a secret agenda. It picks an unlikely fight with Japanese bureaucracy and the nature of modern corporate leadership. It advocates more freedom for the individual, and invites free thinking from those on the lower steps of the corporate ladder, under the assumption that this will strengthen the entire structure of a given company. I'm not sure how much should be read into this aspect of the film, but from what I gather, modern Japanese companies still adhere to a strict set of written and unwritten rules, which limits the freedom of the individual within the organisation, and "Bayside Shakedown 2" seems hellbent on exposing the error of this arrangement.
Yuji Oda once again takes on the lead as detective Aoshima. He previously starred in the "Die Hard meets Cliffhanger on a dam" action movie "Whiteout", where he played a regular guy, forced to take up the fight, John Maclane style, with a bunch of terrorists. He's likeable, and though he doesn't look like a movie star, he sure knows how to act like one. The first film felt almost like an ensemble piece, but this time around the story rests mostly on Aoshima's shoulders. The other officers get little screentime, and that's a shame, but Yuji Oda handles the extra responsibility very well.
"Bayside Shakedown 2" is an above average police film. Those who are looking for that signature Japanese edginess should stay away, because this is as fine and mellow as it gets, and hard-core action fans will probably also feel cheated, because except for the opening scene, there aren't really any big action set-pieces. What you get is an entertaining, inoffensive film. Unpretentious and fun. Nothing more.