Originally, filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton was attached to direct a Japanese-set crime series based on the non-fiction novel Tokyo Vice by journalist Jake Adelstein, but had to exit due to scheduling conflicts with his Marvel Studios film Shang-Chi & The Legend of The Ten Rings, that was shooting in Australia. Instead, HBO Max ended up hiring the best replacement imaginable for a crime series, Michael Mann. Since he was the creative force behind the original Miami Vice series.
The Ronin has been able to confirm that one of the show’s cinematographers is Diego Garcia, who worked on the Nicolas Winding Refn thriller series Too Old To Die Young and the upcoming Jennifer Lawrence drama at A24 from director Lila Neugebauer.
One of the other names mentioned for the series has been Westworld cinematographer John Grillo.
After a long pause in 2020, production resumed in November despite allegations of sexual assault against the show’s lead actor Ansel Elgort (Westside Story, Baby Driver) from last summer as the American actor wasn’t replaced.
Tokyo Vice is a firsthand account of a young American journalist (Elgort) working the Tokyo Metropolitan Police beat. Elgort stars as Adelstein as he embeds himself into the Tokyo Vice police squad to reveal corruption. The series chronicles Adelstein’s daily descent into the sordid underbelly of Tokyo, where nothing and no one is truly what or who they seem.
Ken Watanabe, Rinko Kikuchi, Rachel Keller, and Ella Rumpf also have key roles.
Tokyo Vice’s production resuming happened to take place around the same time Destin Daniel Cretton was finishing up principal photography on Shang-Chi and moving into post-production. Cretton remains as the show’s executive producer alongside Michael Mann and series leads Ken Watanabe and Ansel Elgort.
Director Michael Mann is best known for his impressive body of work that consists of Thief, Manhunter, Heat, The Insider, Collateral, Miami Vice, Public Enemies, and Blackhat. Oddly enough, he never directed an episode of the Miami Vice series but did helm a single episode of the Chicago-set show Crime Story starring the late Dennis Farina.
The impressive part of the series is that they’ve done a lot of filming in country in Japan, which is notoriously expensive for foreign/western productions because of the endless red tape and scheduling that is involved. I also can’t imagine the added costs with pandemic delays and protocols thrown into the mix.