Copyright 1995 ABC-CLIO. This review was taken from the ABC-CLIO Video Rating Guide for Libraries on CD-ROM, a 5-year compilation of over 8900 video titles and reviews, 1990-1994. For information regarding order VRGL CD-ROM, contact: ABC-CLIO, P.O. Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911; 805-968-1911

This following text has been included in the UCB Media Resources Center Web site with the kind permission of the publishers.

I'm on a Mission from Buddha

  • Rating: ****
  • Audience: High School to Adult
  • Price: Public performance: $199.00 Home use: $50.00
  • Date: Copyright 1990. Released 1991.
  • Descriptors: Japanese Americans. Performance art.
  • Production Information: Live action. Produced by Deborah Gee. Color . 60 min.
  • Production Company: KQED, San Francisco
  • Available from: CrossCurrent Media 346 9th Street, 2nd Floor San Francisco, CA 94103 (415) 552-9550
  • Cataloging: 792.7 Stand-up comedy||Japanese American wit and humor||Japanese Americans
  • Print Entry #: 3:853
  • Reviewer: Margaret Fain

    Plain paper packaging aside, this is a video that delivers much more than the title or lack of box information indicates. I'm on a Mission from Buddha is an original one-man show created and performed by Lane Nishikawa. Through the 11 short vignettes that make up the piece, Nishikawa explores the Japanese-American experience in the second half of the 20th century.

    An expressive and versatile actor, Nishikawa ranges from the all-American boy to a man about town to a frustrated actor to a rap artist. His monologues cover everything from the frustrations of being an actor and a Japanese-American actor on top of that, to the impact of Japan's business empire on contemporary America. One of the most moving segments is a tribute to the 444th Japanese-American military unit that fought for the United States in Italy and Germany during World War II. Nishikawa's version of a trip to Tokyo is amusing - as he and a distant cousin have a few beers, they discover the only thing they have in common is their great-grandfather.

    The mix of stand-up routines and introspective pieces is well constructed. The segment describing a typical Toshiro Mifune battle with the bad guys is one of the highlights of the show. As the stand-up pieces - particularly the J-town rap - show, Nishikawa is a genuinely funny actor.

    Taping of the performance is well done and the use of camera angles is most effective. Some of the pieces have background video tied into the performance in a manner that is natural but not overwhelming. The program works on several levels - sociologically, theatrically, and personally - to create an experience that makes you laugh and makes you think. Theater collections will definitely want to add this one. Public and academic libraries will find this to be an accessible piece for patrons interested in theater, performance art, good acting, or the contemporary Japanese-American experience. At the price of $50, it is definitely a "best buy."

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