Deco Truck gal Nami (Hideo Jojo), is a 4 movies series from 2008 to 2012, strongly influenced by Trucker Yaro (Noribumi Suzuki) a 10 film series that were produced by Toei from 1975 to 1979, and starred by the legendary Bunta Sugawara, in the role of Momojiro, a truck driver who in each movie falls in love with a different woman, while lives crazy adventures in the road and always ends with a broken heart.
Trucker Yaro original poster (1975)
Deco Truck Gal Nami carries the legacy of Noribumi Suzuki´s creation in essence and style, following a same patterns of truck chases, action and adventures on the road, including numerous homages and even fanservice for fans of the original movies, having in every installment a cameo of an actor that resembles to Bunta Sugawara playing Momojiro. However, the storylines between both sagas are completely different, introducing a female version of the character, named Nami (Akiho Yoshizawa), a beautiful girl who has no other choice in life than taking over her deceased dad´s truck to pay the debts he left behind. Her inherited skills from her dad, and her will to become the fastet driver of japan, earns her a great reputation, but also she gains dangerous enemies in the process.
AV idol Akiho Yoshizawa, was the actress choosen to incarnate Nami in the 4 films. Though in some of her other V-cinema works she didn´t impress me, and I found her performances dull and boring, she did an outstanding work in these series. While I was watching the movies, I couldn´t stop thinking that she was born to play this role. She filled the screen with her tremendous charisma, giving to her performance so much personality and tons of badassery and proving once again, that a talented person always needs a good direction to really shine and deliver the best of their talent. The director, Hideo Jojo, was smart enough to exploit the best of her skills as an actress as nobody did before.
The first film of the saga, (Edited in USA under the name “Big bad Mama-san, Dekotora 1”), introduces the characters and all the keys of the saga, making a perfect balance between action, drama, comedy and erotism.
The plot revolves around Nami facing a drug dealing cartel, meanwhile tries to protect a prostitute who just dreams about reuniting with her missing daughter.
A thrilling first ride, with exciting action, and an emotional dramatic subplot that might be able to achieve to make shed a tear to the most sensitive audience, something that could be really unexpected for this kind of exploitation cinema.
The second film, realeased 2 years after, repeated the same formula than its predeccesor, starting as a Truckers movie, with truck chases , comedy and erotism to develop into a revenge story set in a world of drug dealers and undercover cops, in which Asami teamed up with Akiho Yoshizawa, sharing the equal amount of protagonism in the story.
Akiho Yoshizawa is wonderful as star of the movie but Asami is the one who really steals all the show, taking over the protagonism at one point of the story , playing an undercover cop with dark past, that gave her the opportunity to showcase her comic side and her talent as dramatic actress. I consider this movie one of her best works and also one of her finest performances.
Equally good than its predeccesor, the film delivers at its best in all aspects, in a plot that works so fine, respecting the keys established in the first film but also bringing something fresh and new to the formula, letting the standard of quality to a level that was impossible to top in the next two installments.
The third film, released one year later, was a prequel that told the origins of Nami and how she became the fastest trucker of japan, introducing to us the character of her father, exploring the troublesome relationship they had before he died.
Much inferior to its predecessors, this origins story is a bit of a letdown. The storyline doesn’t really fit with the story told in the previous two installments, some coincidences that occurs here are really dumb, lacking of the ability of making the the plot believable.
However, is still a fun movie to watch but some dramatic elements doesn’t work well this time.
The fourth and final film of the saga, “Deco Truck Gal Nami 4: Emotion! Yoroshiku Chapter”, it was a return to its roots, although was far from the brilliance of the two first movies of the series, this installment is slightly better than the third , but lacks of excitement and relies too much on drama , not really exploiting that part of the plot. Neverheless, is pretty enjoyable, but as it happened with the third film, also very forgettable.
The plot also goes deep in the origins of Nami, introducing misteryous girl that appears in Nami´s life, that would be the guide of her final route in which she would have to face her ghosts from the past and reconcile with them.
A decent ending for a exciting journey to exorcise a painful past, that has as final destination, the redemption of the protagonist.