Mad Cats (Fantasia International Film Festival 2023 Review)

Mark Pacis

Mad Cats

When it comes to film, everyone has different tastes. At the same time, everyone has a different tolerance factor for cinematic stuff—like weirdness. I have a decent tolerance level for weirdness, but I’ll admit when I say it’s not very high. Reiki Tsuno pushes a lot of boundaries when it comes to the weird and wacky when it comes to his latest film, Mad Cats.

A majority of that comes from the cats in the movie. Mad Cats follows Taka (Sho Mineo), a lazy freeloader who does little to improve his living situation. When a mysterious package arrives at his trailer, it sends him on a quest to find and rescue his brother, who disappeared years after saving a kitten. Along the way, he teams up with Takezo (Yuya Matsuura), a homeless man who reluctantly joins the group, and Ayane (Ayane), an enigmatic human cat who wants to protect them. Together, they must unearth the truth about their bizarre situation and prevent a group of human feline assassins from retrieving the forbidden Egyptian catnip that they stole. 

The entire cat plotline throughout the film is just completely absurd. The Catnip of Bastet, the movie’s MacGuffin, is a wooden box containing catnip that grants any cat that bites it extraordinary powers. Moreover, it’s not that they’re cats, but they’re cats in human form. Thankfully, this isn’t Tom Hooper’s Cats, but seeing humans act like cats while being the world’s most dangerous killers makes zero sense whatsoever—even with the explanation of the Catnip of Bastet. 

Mad Cats is a movie you’ll either love or hate. The movie is absurd, the story is outrageous, and its silliness is off-the-charts.

Not to mention that the film is tonally confused on whether or not it was to be a horror movie, action/comedy, or both. The movie has some horror elements, such as the film’s beginning. However, we don’t see these elements again until later in the movie. Most of Mad Cats focuses on the bumbling antics of Taka and Takezo. These comical features are inconsistent as well. There’s a fine line between being funny and annoying, and the movie repeatedly jumps rope with that line. Sho Mineo and Yuya Matsuura give the film a sense of lightheartedness, but sometimes their performances feel forced.

On the other hand, the action aspect of the film is excellent. The movie’s hand-to-hand combat, weapons play, and gunplay are fluid and dynamic, and the women are as badass as they come. They make these fight sequences look effortless, and Shintaro Teramoto’s cinematography frames every move equally effortlessly.

Overall, Mad Cats is a movie you’ll either love or hate. The movie is absurd, the story is outrageous, and its silliness is off-the-charts. Mad Cats isn’t a film I would watch again, but it might be right up your alley. After all, my tolerance level for weird movies is decent, but if yours is high, chances are you will dig this lighthearted action extravaganza.

Rating: 2.5/5 atoms

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