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or "Waga jinsei saiaku no toki."

Maiku Hama is a tough and gritty P.I. in Yokohama, Japan. He comes to the aid of a Taiwanese waiter in a mah-jong parlour, only to find himself embroiled in a multi-ethnic gang war.

Hilarity ensues.

"The Most Terrible Time in My Life" is a valentine to noir that hits like a fist. Equal parts parody and sincere paean, the homages come fast and furious from Rififi to Tokyo Drifter, strung together with bits of humor and unnecessarily dark nighttime shots. Did I mention it was in black and white?

Masatoshi Nagase ("Mystery Train") stars as the Spillane-esque (Mike Hammer, natch) two-fisted dick Hama putting his kid sister through college, only to lose his finger while defending a waiter. Said waiter is one of two brothers who are caught in a murderous triangle of Hong Kong, Taiwanese and naturalized Japanese gangsters (the latter calling themselves the "New Japs"), who Hama starts tracking much to the chagrin of everyone else involved.

Along the way, Mike gets beaten up by the detective on the force covering the case, his detective mentor, and gets his finger lopped off and his leg shot by the waiter. It really is the most terrible time in his life.

References abound, from the mountain lane shot of Du Rififi chez les Hommes, to a trainyard chase that I believe is from Hitchcock's Sabotuer, along with nods to Breathless, John Woo's The Killers, The Getaway, and a slew of Hong Kong detective flicks. If you liked "Pulp Fiction", you'll enjoy the mashup of "The Most Terrible Time of My Life."

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