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Plot Details: This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Down the Rabbit Hole

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (2014) on IMDb

Plot Overview

A hooded figure proceeds along a deserted beach, clutching a white cloth. The cloth is inscribed with a hand-stitched topo­graphical map that the figure soon aligns with a grotto on a bluff. Once inside, a tunnel leads to a wet rock next to some live crabs, under which a deft hand unearths a package … containing a marginally wrapped tape.

Writers David Zellner—the director—and his brother Nathan Zellner were heavily influenced as children by the starts of the James Bond films. If this were 007, we'd see him take the tape to the lab for analysis. After some sleuthing, he'd use some personal initiative to pursue the lead to some exotic location, with reluctant cooperation of the authorities at home and abroad. He'd worry M when he disappeared from their radar. He'd meet up with a "Bond girl" with whom he'd engage in some situational sex. Using his wits he'd end up trek­king across a feature­less tundra, guided by a pocket compass, pursued by some kind of dirty dog whom he'd dispatch with the latest in techno­logical gadgetry. If God is still on the side of the British Empire, he'll survive to some day go on another mission.

The audience would eat it up and it would make millions. To a person who had never seen a secret agent film or a Bond flick, how­ever, the main character would seem touched in the head at the very least if not down­right suicidal. Why doesn't he settle down? To take off suddenly from his office does not look like a career move. And he picks a lousy vacation destination.

“Kumiko” makes perfect sense as a conquistador film (if there were such a genre) and its 29-year-old Japanese Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi) the heroine if some­one other than a Spaniard were allowed that role and America the target. Friendly Americans (“Can I help you?”) want to help the stranger (“I want to help you”), but she just wants to help her­self. The writers borrowing from the mischievous Coen brothers who brought us “Fargo” engage in some punny business by having her repeat her goal: “Fargo, I want to go Fargo,” or should we say, “Far–go, I want to go Far”? She gets pretty far out there.


Kumiko's odd behavior is actually pretty consistent with her first discovery of the tape, so if we knew where she got that first map, we'd be better judges of her second map. The movie doesn't say where she got her first lead, but it takes great pains to show us where she didn't get it. She didn't stumble upon it at work, because all work records are stored in a vault at night and she would have been too conspicuous making the kind of copy she made. It wasn't a boss who leaked it to her, because she doesn't suck up to authority. She barely speaks to her co-workers and shuns her friends. Her mom and her are not on the same page. She hasn't got a library card, she doesn't answer her phone or her emails, and she doesn't know how to operate a smart phone—she uses a pay phone to call her mom. She doesn't even look at her incoming mail, it just builds up. She's not on the Internet and hasn't watched TV since the days of black & white. She had no human source for her first map. It had to have come from a God, or angels, or her rabbit; take your pick.

We get a clue in America. The woman who first helps her is a bookworm who gives her a paper­back copy of Shōgun: A Novel of Japan, by James Cavell. It's a story of a captured trader who teaches himself Japanese to survive and prevail. A helpful sheriff takes Kumiko to a Chinese restaurant looking for some­one to translate between Japanese and English, but no luck as (Mandarin) Chinese and Japanese are different languages. Too bad they didn't try writing it out as the Japanese took their picto­graphic written language (kanji) directly from the Chinese, having lacked one of their own. Next Kumiko gets a cab ride from a deaf cabby who, for necessity being the mother of invention, uses a writing pad to communicate destination.

So we've got the invention of (written) language here. Well, from the Co[h]en brothers' Jewish heritage: to Enoch the seventh in line from Adam was attributed the invention of writing having been taught it by angels. And (Gen. 5:24) Enoch walked with God and was translated, sort of like, "Beam me up, Scotty," a way bodies hop around on the planet or off-planet.

The critical scene in the found movie is where Steve Buscemi's character buries some ransom money in the snow by the side of the road. He does it after exclaiming, “Jesus Christ! Money,” using the name of the Messiah in an oath. An attempt by an angel to discover the then secret name of the Messiah to be used in power­ful oaths was covered in Enoch's writings: (Enoch 69:14-15) “And this one told the Holy Michael that he should show him the secret name so that they might mention it in the oath, so that those, who showed the sons of men everything that is secret, trembled before that name and oath. And this is the power of this oath, for it is powerful and strong, and he placed this oath, Akae, in the charge of the Holy Michael.”

(Enoch 69:16-17) “And these are the secrets of this oath, and they are strong through this oath, … and from the hidden recesses of the mountains come beautiful waters, from the creation of the world and for ever.” From the hills flowed a trickle of water into the grotto where Kumiko found the tape.

(Enoch 69:18) “And through that oath the sea was created, and as its foundation, … he placed for it the sand, and it does not go beyond it.” The beach where the sand arrests the ocean is where the cave was found.

(Enoch 69.19) “And through that oath the deeps were made firm, and they stand and do not move from their place, from the creation of the world and for ever.” She looks for her treasure in the depths of a lake.

(Enoch 69.20-22) “And through that oath the Sun and the Moon complete their course and do not transgress their command, from the creation of the world and for ever. And through that oath the stars complete their course, …. And like­wise the spirits of the water, of the winds, and of all the breezes, and their paths, according to all the groups of the spirits.” She rides the ski lift that goes round and round in its set course.

(Enoch 69:23) “And there are kept the storehouses of the sound of thunder, and of the light of the lightning; and there are kept the store­houses of the hail, and the hoarfrost, and the store­houses of the mist, and the store­houses of the rain and dew.” The sound­track thunders and she gets buried in snow.

(Enoch 69:24-27) “And all these make their confession and give thanks in front of the Lord of Spirits and sing praises with all their power. And their food consists of all their thanksgiving and they give thanks, praise, and exalt, in the name of the Lord of Spirits, forever and ever. And this oath is strong over them and through it they are kept safe and their courses are not disturbed. And they had great joy and they blessed, praised, and exalted, because the name of that Son of Man had been revealed to them. And he sat on the Throne of His Glory and the whole judgment was given to the Son of Man.” This girl was into some powerful stuff and will have great joy if she stays her course.

“Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter” is a variation on the story of (Matt. 13:44) “treasure hid in a field” about giving up all one's sensible options to gain (Eph. 1:18-21) “the riches of the glory of [Christ's] inheritance.”

Production Values

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter” (2014) is directed and co-written by David Zellner who also acted in it. His brother Nathan Zellner co-wrote it. The feature star with the passive face is Rinko Kikuchi. It's rated G (in British Columbia.) The striking location is Minnesota, USA. The movie's initial 45 minutes are shot in Tokyo, the last hour in the US. It's 105 minutes long. The musical score was from the Austin-based electro-indie group The Octopus Project.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This is a great little artsy picture that will sail right over the heads of a general audience steeped in mundane Holly­wood fare. If you'd like some­thing a little different with a tightly constructed plot that only appears to veer into madness, this one will fill the bill. It's slow and easy to follow if you pay attention. Don't look for alternate endings, because the one they gave it is perfect.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes Suitability for children: Suitable for children who don't fidget. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good for Groups. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall product rating: Five stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quotation from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

THE BOOK OF ENOCH. Translation by M. Knibb of the Ethiopian text in the S.O.A.S. Library at the University of London. WEB.