Hello JPFmovies fans and welcome to another review of something a little different. The JPFmovies staff remembers watching Tom Cruise and Michael Caine in the 1988 film Cocktail and wondering just how low Michael Caine could go after his stellar performance in Blame it on Rio (1984) and rolling our eyes at the thin plot, predictable ending and an overall shitty film—but of course earned a ton of money. After that fiasco, members of the JPFmovies staff were certain that we had seen the last of media glorifying bartenders who, according to Michael Caine were “the aristocrats of the working class.” However, in our relentless efforts to review the good, the bad and the ugly the JPFmovies staff was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon Bartender (2011) a Japanese mini-series based on a manga of the same name.
Ryu Sasakura (Masaki Aiba) is a bar tending prodigy who won a European cocktail contest. He got into an argument with his instructor and was fired. In a state of dejection he came back to his native country of Japan. He finds work again in Tokyo and also meets Miwa Kurushima. Meanwhike, Ryu Sasakura is able to listen to his customer’s problems and help alleviate their worries with his special cocktail mixes including work and love and family troubles, one drink at a time. Our bar tending prodigy even takes on a disciple and enters him into a contest—only to have his lose magnificently!
Why is the Japanese series tolerable? Because it does not portray the bartender as some flamboyant circus performer out to land a babe, some cash or another material recompense but a person who takes his craft seriously and listens to his patrons without judgment while providing honest, simple advice. He even goes so far as to track the water used in a customer’s hometown to make the drink authentic. What more could you want in a bartender? No Ryu was not flinging glasses three feet in the air while dancing to some 80’s rock, he made his drinks with precision, attention to detail and an eye to match the booze with its drinker. A consummate professional. This is not a heavy and gritty film that makes you sweat, but a nice lite series that provides a decent respite from the world today, much like going to your favorite watering hole. Take a few hours and watch it, you will be glad you did.