French director Oliver Megaton didn’t have to stretch too far outside his comfort zone for Dentsu Inc.’s new TVC series launching the Toyota Corolla Levin. Megaton sat in the chair for the Liam Neeson hostage movies Taken 2 and Taken 3, and this spot follows a similar plot line.
Australian actor Hugh Jackman, most famous for his role as Wolverine in the X-Men series, stars as Levin (Corolla would’ve sounded stupid). Criminal forces have captured his girlfriend, Cynthia, played by Taiwanese actress Shu Qi, who hit it big in Feng Xiaogang comedy If You Are the One.
After Jackman receives a call from a sinister man using Cynthia’s phone number, he hits the car’s start button and races off to recover his lover. The action sequences give ample opportunities to see the Levin (the car) in motion, with several sequences utilizing impressive footage shot from helicopters high above LA’s freeways.
The use of celebrities is a popular strategy in China and around the world, but it’s interesting to note how Dentsu Inc. uses Jackman differently in different markets. Blockbusters are immensely popular in China, with the Chinese market contributing a huge portion of the revenues earned by, for instance, the Transformers and Ironman series. In Japanese ads for the Toyota hybrid Crown, by contrast, we see Jackman cruising around the countryside singing a song about ‘The Miracle of Love”.
The man himself is surely more similar to his adorable Japanese persona. During filming of the Levin film, when Jackman found out it was Shu Qi’s birthday, he reportedly researched a restaurant and had the crew take her there to celebrate.