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re­leased 11 Oc­tO­ber 15 | 93 min­utes

Di­rec­tors Guil­laume re­nard, sho­jiro Nishimi

Cast Michael chik­lis, Gian­carlo esposito, Jorge Gutier­rez, dascha Polanco

This is a fun­da­men­tally slight but en­joy­able ac­tion­movie com­edy in an­i­ma­tion, whose blood-splat­tered shoot-outs go hand in hand with a good sense of hu­mour.

The film’s set in a scuzzy, graf­fiti-daubed city in an al­ter­nate Amer­ica. Some char­ac­ters look hu­man, but the main duo – a pair of like­able young­sters – have heads that look re­spec­tively like a bowl­ing ball and a Ghost Rider flam­ing skull. No one in the film re­ally cares about their ap­pear­ance, so pre­sum­ably we’re not meant to care that much ei­ther.

The kid with the bowl­ing­ball bonce starts see­ing peo­ple cast mon­strous shad­ows. Soon, he’s be­ing chased by Men in Black. The story has touches of John Car­pen­ter’s They Live!, but the op­por­tu­ni­ties for class war satire are dis­ap­point­ingly passed up. The film’s only ma­jor fe­male char­ac­ter re­sem­bles an an­ime school­girl; the big­gest clue that this is a Ja­panese/ French co-pro­duc­tion (from a French comic).

The same an­ime stu­dio made an­other ur­ban fan­tasy, Tekkonkin­keet. Both fling their flat-look­ing char­ac­ters through three-di­men­sional streets and al­ley­ways, though the chases and shoot-outs get mo­not­o­nous. Still, MFKZ ben­e­fits from its sweetly unas­sum­ing leads, who you end up car­ing about far more than you do most ac­tion he­roes. An­drew Os­mond

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