Amalfi: Rewards of the Goddess

Reviewed by: sukting

December 13, 2011

Rating: three

How long
125 min

How did a diplomat manage to solve a kidnap case? Is there any connection to a meeting that is going to take place?

Story/Introduction on characters
Kosaku Kuroda (Yuji Oda) is a foreign diplomat who has just started working in the coastal town of Amalfi, Italy. He wants to improve security at the embassy but makes waves with his direct manner. His keen sense of observation disrupts the Counsellor Michio Nishino's (Shiro Sano) laborious planning for the G8 foreign minister's meeting.

It is set for Rome the day after Christmas. The Italian and Japanese governments will announce an aid package for the Balkans.

Kuroda's main colleagues at the Japanese embassy consist of Ambassador Kikuhara (Akira Onodera), fellow diplomatic envoys Haba (Nene Ohtsuka) and Tanimoto (Atsushi Ito). All are busy preparing for the visit of Japanese Foreign Minister Kawagoe (Mitsuru Hirata) due to arrive for the high-profile G8 foreign minister's meeting.

In order to get him out of the way, Nishino dispatches him to investigate the case of a young Japanese girl kidnapped off the streets of Rome at Christmas. Her attractive mother who is a nurse and a widow, Saeko Yakami (by Yuki Amami) gets worried when she still goes missing after days.

He gets clues from his close friend, Shogo Saeki (Masaharu Fukuyama) who also assists in the operation indirectly as they meet together in cafes. (It is eye candy for female fans to see two hunks on screen) Shogo jokes that Kuroda might fall in love this time.

Posing as Saeko's husband, Kuroda takes the lead with the kidnappers, who want money and no cops. However, the law requires that Kuroda notify local authorities, who almost ruin the operation. They are too eager to catch the kidnappers but end up catching the wrong people who are paid to collect the ransom. The kidnappers have known that the money is not genuine and decide to keep the girl with them.

Various exchanges go awry; then the kidnappers send Saeko and Kuroda to the Amalfi coast on what appears to be a goose chase. They find the room but the girl is no longer there. Kuroda decides to come up with the real money, seeing her almost breaking down. Her ex-patient, Kanae Adachi (Koichi Sato) learns about the case and comes to visit her too.

Masaki Fujii tries to help but she is very weak in speaking Italian. Motoyasu Tanimoto is no more like a driver so Kuroda prefers to work on his own. He has thought that the Italian envoy might be the target and rushes to the concert hall where he is present for Sarah Brightman's concert but he finds no one there. The security there is stepped up with lesser police for the summit.

Soon he discovers Kanae suspicious as he is in Amalfi earlier than he claims and there is no snow on his car wheels. To save her daughter, Saeko even obeys Kanae to trap the police in the police station chamber to shut down the security system of the embassy. They finally rescue the girl from another house.

Kanae turns out to be the kidnapper in the case. Kawagoe has ordered an attack on a hideout to kill the terrorists but innocent civilians are killed. One of them is Kanae's wife and he has combined with other victims' relatives to seek their revenge. They turn up at the embassy, holding everyone up at gunpoint. Kuroda manages to dissuade Kanae from killing Kawagoe and force Kawagoe to apologise on television.

Masaki Fujii and Motoyasu Tanimoto wonder why Kuroda doesn't stay after this incident. Is he being punished? No, he only makes a request to return to Japan but is later transferred to work in US instead. Before he leaves, he meets up Saeko and there is a hint that they might become a couple since they show interest in each other.

Most favourite character
Who else but the two guys – smart and cool!

Most hated character
Kawagoe – he doesn't admit his mistake until Kanae nearly shoots him deaf in one ear.

Interesting facts
"Amalfi" is a special production by Fuji TV to commemorate its 50th anniversary. The film was shot entirely on location in Italy. Amalfi is filled with nice scenery and plays a variation of the popular Italian song "Con te partirò" (or better known as Time to Say Goodbye). One highlight is to have Sarah Brightman's performance singing this song shot!

You have to watch Amalfi for the nice location as the selling point as the scenery is beautifully captured. I must admit that I am doing sight-seeing while the cops are busy rescuing the little girl. At some points of the film, I even forget about her! Also credits to the Japanese stars who offer good acting.

It has a thrilling start but somehow mellows later which becomes a big disappointment to me. Their rescue mission take us a wonderful tour around Italy tourist spots. I don't find it as inspiring as ‘Angels and Demons' although some scenes follow the track of giving clues. However if you missed this in the cinema, borrowing the dvd is just as nice if you have a big television screen at home.

Sukting's ratings :
On acting : 3.5 (Scale of 5)
On story : 3 (Scale of 5)

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