Office politics can really suck.
It’s never enough to do your job well. Your career can be affected by who you work with, who you know, or even who doesn’t like you for some random reason that has nothing to do with the job. Office politics can be frustrating, exhausting even, but at least it’s not built around waring gangs engaging in armed combat for increased hierarchy on the corporate food chain. Or who knows, maybe this would make work more fun, like in Office Royale, an enjoyable action-comedy that turns workplace disputes in Street Fighter.
The film focuses on Naoko Tanaka (Mei Nagano), an office lady who tries to go about a typical day while her office ladies coworkers, in departments like sales or accounts payable, battle over office clout. She befriends a new, powerful office lady, Ran (Alice Hrose), who rises to power in the company, and starts attracting other office ladies from different companies to combat her.
Directed by and written by Bakarhythm, the movie is over-the-top and cartoonish as all hell. Your enjoyment will be heavily based on if this style of comedy is your taste. I love these types of Japanese comedies. While I tend to go for gorier ones like Dead Sushi, One Cut of the Dead, or Tokyo Gore Police, I really enjoyed this one. I loved how cartoonishly insane the comedy gets, especially as the action intensifies moving forward. I also really liked the leads; Naoko and Ran are very likable and fun characters. They come off like friendly coworkers you can have a chill chat with during breaks or after a long day. Their love of manga as an inspiration for fighting makes them relatable and grounds them as audience surrogates in this wild world. There are hilarious moments in the film when the battles get interspersed with their typical office chats. They make this world easier to seep into, assisted by likable and charming performances from Mei Nagano and Alice Hrose.
As fun as Office Royale is, I think the filmmakers could’ve gone a bit farther with their premise. The action in the film does match the cartoonish tone, and I did enjoy it, but they could’ve used more action earlier in the film. A few instances of off-camera fighting in the first half could’ve benefited from being visible to establish how the world works. Additionally, while the fast and loose choreography worked, for the most part, some of the fight scenes could’ve been tighter to increase the impact. Some of the writing could’ve been stronger to solidify the world-building and even improve the pacing in a few spots. Still, these issues didn’t bother me too much, I had fun, and I’m happy with what I got.
Office Party is a fun comedy with a creative premise that never overstays its welcome. Fans of Scott Pilgrim vs The World or Aggretsuko will most likely gravitate to it, attracted to its tone and exciting premise. I want to see more of this world; I’d love sequels or spinoffs that dive into the world more. In the meantime, I’ll be happy with what I have, a fun action-comedy.
Office Party is playing at the New York Asian Film Festival on August 12th.