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The Returner is one of the best Sci-Fi flicks i've ever seen
JimmyZappa14 January 2005
The day was set to end, I had two videos in my hands I had just rented an hour before, one of them was "Lost in Translation" and the other one was "The Returner".

To make a long story short, my attitude turned pretty sour after viewing the more anticipated "Lost in Translation" and turned on "The Returner" thinking it would be pretty cheesy....turns out, I was completely wrong.

The Returner, even though it obviously borrows a lot of ideas from other films, is incredibly entertaining. The main characters Miyamoto and Milly were incredibly engaging, the bad guy (with his "Vash the Stampede" look and gun) was pretty cool, the storyline (filled with some comedy, drama, action, and a science fiction twist of course) was not that bad (some parts were a lot more enjoyable than others), the execution of the directing was what caught my attention, and the overall impression I got from it was completely passable and whole-fully entertaining.

Even the ending and the soundtrack was superb. It made me drop my jaw in awe during the credits, it really had that much of an impact with me throughout the entire thing. I long for the special double disk edition (if it exists that is, not entirely sure yet).

For those who love action/SCI-FI flicks, this is a definite must. And this is also recommended for those who love Japanese Cinematography in general.
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Good sci-fi action entertainment.
Li-113 February 2004
Rating: *** out of ****

On first impression, I enjoyed Returner very much, but I can easily see why many others didn't care for it. The movie's plot is a rip-off of countless American blockbusters (just on first viewing I see E.T., The Terminator, Back to the Future, ID4, Stargate, Dune, The Matrix, MI:2, and even a little bit of The X-Files) and there's nothing really all that special in the way the story is executed but in general most Asian action flicks don't have much plot so I at least count it a blessing that ripping off all the aforementioned films gives the film enough story to sustain interest.

Takeshi Kineshiro stars as Miyamoto, a mercenary who has an agenda against Yakuza boss Mizoguchi (Goro Kishitani). But before he can fulfill his vengeance, a time-traveling girl (Ann Suzuki) interrupts his task, giving Mizoguchi the opportunity to escape. Frustrated, Miyamoto takes the dazed girl back to his apartment. There, she informs him her name is Miri and that she's traveled back from the year 2084 to save the world from an incoming alien invasion.

Naturally, he doesn't believe her, but finds he has no choice but to help her when she tapes a bomb to his neck. Miri informs him that an alien spacecraft has crashed and the surviving crew member will signal the mothership, thus instigating the war between humans and these aliens called the Daggra. Joining Miri's mission to kill this surviving alien, Miyamoto gradually believes her when he witnesses some astonishing sights. But what should be an easy task proves difficult when the Yakuza get involved and want the alien technology for themselves.

Japan's first (or maybe they've done it before, I sure as hell don't know) attempt at crafting a summer blockbuster that can rival those of American cinema is an unqualified success as a work of great entertainment. It delivers what one would expect from a popcorn blockbuster: fast-paced thrills, big laughs, and visual spectacle, but there's a layer of genuine heart and emotion that propels this far above the crap one could expect from Michael Bay or Jerry Bruckheimer.

Takeshi Kaneshiro is understandably one of Asia's biggest heartthrobs, the man looks great in tousled hair and long trench coats. But along with the cool exterior, he boasts solid acting talent to go with all that charisma. No doubt, he'll probably be Asian cinema's most popular star within the next five years. Ann Suzuki also impresses as the young teen who's had to grow up fast for her age. It's the natural and sweet rapport the two develop that raises the stakes; the addition of human interest makes the action and the story more compelling. As the hilariously laconic and irredeemably evil Mizoguchi, Goro Kishitani is fun to watch, his villainous performance evoking a mix of past work from Alan Rickman and Gary Oldman.

Returner boasts numerous terrific action sequences, rousing gun battles that employ fluid camera-work and stylish slow motion. The opening setpiece, with Kineshiro taking down scores of Yakuza, is a total blast and the coolest opening sequence since Equilibrium. Some of the action scenes employ bullet-time techniques, but that's thankfully limited to only a few moments. There's a potentially cool motorcycle chase that ends way too quickly, but otherwise, the action is first rate.

As for the f/x, I was really quite impressed. I don't know what budget this film had to work with, but the visuals are mostly excellent. Most of the f/x are at least on par with a Sci-Fi Channel miniseries (like Children of Dune), and occasionally are up there with even expensive Hollywood blockbusters (the effects sure as hell are better than, say, The Core). The CGI work on the alien mothership is gorgeous, a definite improvement on the model work from Independence Day.

Returner is not without its faults. There are a few moments that are simply too similar to its "inspirations." The riffs from Independence Day go all the way down to the inclusion of telepathy, alien body armor, and force fields. The battle sequence between the aliens and the last human outpost is gripping. The sets, the direction, and the f/x are all impeccably handled in this setpiece. It probably should have been the film's highlight, but the scene is marred by some poor acting from foreign actors who clearly shouldn't be trying to fake American accents.

But despite its blatant unoriginality, Returner is spirited and thrilling. The climax, set aboard an ocean-bound oil rig, is an exhilarating race against time amid several blazing gun battles. There's some sentimentality on hand, and I'll even admit I got a bit choked up near the end. Admittedly, the movie runs a bit long after all the action, but there's a nice post-climactic plot twist that should please most sci-fi fans.

(Major spoiler warning) I gather that the filmmakers were assuming that once Miri returned to the future, she'd still have the same memories of the former timeline (a la Back to the Future, Frequency), thus enabling her to save Miyamoto. But I'm not sure why she'd automatically return to the future after thwarting the war, or why she didn't arrive after Miyamoto realized she'd saved his life to spend some time with him (End spoiler).

And what's up with playing a Lenny Kravitz song over the end credits? It's a bit of a distraction for an otherwise rather touching final scene. But on the whole, Returner is enthusiastically recommend to sci-fi action fans.
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Japanese cinema at its best!
el_totob27 August 2005
I was told by everyone that this movie was awful. Even the critics said it was bad. Then I wanted to check it out by myself! MAN, has everyone lost their mind? This is probably one of the best sci-fi flick I've ever seen! Never saw something that refreshing since Fifth Element.

Of course a lot of people are going to say it is a Matrix rip-off, that the script looks like Terminator or Independence Day, blah blah... Then I'm sure these people didn't watch the same movie I did! Cuz it has nothing to do with these films, AT ALL! It may be futuristic, but it has its own universe, its own way to introduce it to you. Plus, you stay close to the characters, to the very end. Even though the plot is big and takes place on a higher level, you always stay close to the characters life, emotions, motivations and goals. That's what I liked about this movie. It may be sci-fi, but the characters are not so far from any drama movies.

I heard someone saying that the Japanese love to copy American movies. BLASPHEMY! If you look carefully, it's the total opposite. Weren't the Americans the ones who did a remake of Godzilla? Weren't the Americans the ones who did free adaptations of Ringu and Ju-On? Aren't the Americans planning to do a live-action movie of The Transformers? Besides, Matrix IS a Japanese animation *rip-off*. It deliberately got his inspiration from anime such as Ghost in the Shell or X. And if you want good example of innovative Japanese movies, I recommend to you Akira Kurosawa's, even though it has nothing to do with sci-fi.

Anyways, Returner is a must see to all sci-fi fans and to all Japanese movies and animation lovers. I can guarantee you a good time if you watch it *open-minded* and if you put aside the *rip-off* crap we've been so fed about.

9 out of 10
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A Good Japanese Sci-Fi Adventure
Claudio Carvalho9 January 2005
In 2084, the mankind is near total annihilation by alien invaders. Milly (Anne Suzuki), a young woman from the Earth resistance, uses a time machine and returns to October, 2002, trying to avoid the beginning of alien invasion and the war. In her arrival in a ship, she is rescued and saved from the Yakuza evil boss Mizoguchi (Goro Kishitani) by a hit-man called Miyamoto (Takeshi Kaneshiro). Using unconventional methods, Milly forces Miyamoto to help her to save the human race.

"The Returner" is a good surprise: the story uses many elements of "The Matrix" (the shootings, the costume of Miyamoto), "Clockstoppers" (the apparatus that makes time stand quite still), "The Terminator" (the traveling back in time to save the human race) and even "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" (an alien that wants to return home). However, although having some flaws in the story (as usual, when dealing with time travel), it is a great entertainment. The chemistry between the beautiful Anne Suzuki and Takeshi Kaneshiro is excellent, and Goro Kishitani is a great villain. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "O Retorno" ("The Return")
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One of the better recent Japanese live-action movies
Traal-215 February 2004
Having read a few online reviews of this movie, and having seen some of the more recent movies out of Japan including Batoru rowaiaru (2000), my expectatations were low. (Battle Royale is for the most part a good movie, but enjoyment of the movie is ultimately crippled by a truly lousy ending.) For some reason, recent Japanese live-action movies tend to be really bad, while anime is often very good.

This movie was a pleasant surprise. It didn't rip off other movies nearly as much as I was led to believe. True, some of the special effects resembled those in The Matrix, but they helped advance this movie instead of being a way to try to make the movie seem more "cool."

The character of Mizoguchi, played by Goro Kishitani, resembled Gary Oldman's parts in a number of films including Fifth Element, The (1997) and Léon (1994). The acting by Takeshi Kaneshiro as Miyamoto was good, but the standout of the movie was the cute-as-a-button Ann Suzuki as the serious, fun, energetic, and rebellious Miri.

The CG of aliens disguised as terran aircraft transforming into their true forms was impressive, resembling the work done in Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001) and Independence Day (1996). This is a movie not to be missed by CG buffs.

With the recent shortage of good live-action movies coming out of Japan, The Returner is one of the best to come out within the last few years.
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0% originality, 100% awesomeness
AwesomeWolf28 April 2005
Version: Columbia Tristar's DVD release. Japanese / English subtitles.

Time travel is cool. Explosions are cool, as are gun fights. Any movie that attempts to incorporate 'The Terminator', 'Independence Day', 'Leon', and nearly every John Woo movie made between 'A Better Tomorrow' and 'Face/Off' is cool. 'Returner' features all these elements, and therefore, is awesomely cool. Or at least a fun action movie.

In 2084, the Earth has been nearly overrun by aliens. The last survivors of the human race are fighting a losing battle in the mountains of Tibet. Naturally, these survivors have mad scientists with them who develop all these cool gadgets, as well a time-machine. Milly (Anne Suzuki) volunteers to go back to 2002 to stop the war from beginning. Upon arrival, she teams up with Miyamoto (Takeshi Kaneshiro). Miyamoto is a mercenary seeking vengeance against the Triad gangster, Mizoguchi (Goro Kishitani), who in turn, may actually have caused the war in the first place. Convenient.

A Japanese friend of mine originally recommended 'Returner' to me, and another friend of ours, knowing full well we are easily impressed by explosions. If, like me, you are easily impressed by explosions and have not yet seen 'Returner', you should stop reading and go watch it right now.

'Returner' is little more than a stylish action movie. Most of the plot seems to be taken from random elements of 'Terminator', ID4, and 'Leon', and styled in a similar way to ID4, 'Matrix', and a fair number of John Woo movies. I must admit that any comparison to the 'Matrix' is a tad unfair, as the 'Matrix' was also made up of elements from nearly every movie John Woo ever made. As a sci-fi / action movie, 'Returner' is entertaining, if a little cheesy. The action scenes are generally awesome and exciting.

'Returner' is a fun action movie. It should at least satisfy hardcore action fans, and should be entertaining enough for anyone looking for a fun movie - 7/10
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Short but descriptive
ervty28 November 2004
An excellent movie, with a lot of Japanese clichés, like transforming robots, ningas, and strange new technology. I swear, this must have been the best bullet time I've ever seen. It's even better than The Matrix. No only do you see the bullets, but also the streamers of air coming off of them, and they can be moved if something passes through them. Also, it accurately shows bullets going though flesh, and many other cool things in bullet time. The ending was strong, and tied up many plot holes and paradoxes. The ending was very surprising, yet touching. Overall, excellent film, with unique storyline, cute aliens, realistic special effects, and believable action.
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Pretty good, but has its slow moments
TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews2 April 2004
This has admittedly taken a lot of inspiration from Matrix, Terminator, Independence Day, ET, Predator, and probably a few others that I didn't notice. However, it seems more like a tribute to the movies, than a lazy ripoff, as it treats the source material with the respect it requires. The plot is very good, it borrows heavily from Terminator, but it gives it a bit of a twist that is pretty interesting. The science fiction portion of the movie is pretty good; the effects are nothing short of stunning and mind-blowing. The CGI totally mixes in perfectly with the live action, without at any point in the movie looking out of place. The action sequences are fantastic; sure, the action is often heavily inspired by films like The Matrix, but they pull it off pretty good. Some sequences leave you yearning for more. The acting is pretty good. I saw it with English audio, so I can't really say anything about the original actors voices, but the English/American voice actors did their job well. The only negative thing I can say about the film, is that the plot drags a bit in some places. At certain times, the movie seemed to not move on at all. However, this is only a few instances in the first part of the movie, and no one should be discouraged from watching it simply because of that. It's a damn good action/sci-fi movie, as long as you can accept that the concept is not particularly original. I recommend this to anyone who liked The Matrix, or similar films. 8/10
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Combo of Red Bull and speed
InzyWimzy5 September 2003
I know that I will definitely have to see this film again. Japanese movies are getting that sleek futuristic look and Returner is chock full of it. Although I have to admit, there seem to be a lot of "homages" ranging from Matrix, Men in Black to Fifth Element, X-Files and so on. Still, it's an action packed with cool style to boot.

The main hero and butt whooping babe work well together. From martial arts, lasers, guns, explosions, action scenes are so rapid that you're left blinking in awe. I definitely think towards the final 30 minutes, it does seem to go on a tangent and a friend and I were trying to piece together what we could and keep up. The CG is used well in enhancing the style of the film, especially the futuristic technology stuff.

If possible, catch this in the theater or on a good home system and you won't be disappointed.
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withnail-430 June 2004
this movie contains parts of earlier movies within it(E.T., STARGATE, TERMINATOR, GODFATHER II, etc.) and yet... Shakespear's Hamlet was based on an earlier version by can it be discredited as derivative?

this film takes many Hollywood influences and weaves them into the final epiphany of cinematic success. the villain is brilliant, like Christopher Walken brilliant. The lead guy Myamoto, is almost Belmondo-ish cool. And the girl ...the cutest thing on the planet. period! I won't stand for any badmouthin' 'bout Anne Suzuki. She's just the most sensational badass babydoll around!!!

the way they handled the parallel between Millie's brother and the alien (running with the blanket-swathed body) and the the way Myamoto shares the evil of the villain (shooting children) and finds his redemption by chance...

this movie will be around in 50 has the perfection that only serendipity bestows on one production in a thousand
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Ignore the bad reviews
sahuagin5 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Ignore negative reviews written by people who slate this movie (yet give Torque a 10 and call people who disagree idiots - you know who I mean yojimbo999) as I personally think it is a great movie.

I have lent it out to a number of work-mates and they have all subsequently gone out and procured a copy for themselves.

I am not saying this film is for everyone - huge fans of Terminator and Matrix films will call it a rip-off but it is as much of a ripoff as Matrix is of any good-vs-evil story (The Bible anyone? We all see the connotations there!). In it's own right it is a fun, exciting and interesting movie with a nice pseudo-twist at the end.

**BIG Spoiler**

An awful lot of people have moaned ceaselessly about the lovey section involving the baby alien.......but how can they say that about this film then give huge marks to films such as Armageddon that just drip soppy love like a fat bees a*se!

So my final word? If the idea of the film appeals to you, ignore me and everyone else, just see the darned film. If it doesn't appeal, don't see it" Simple as that. I would give it a 9 though as it did appeal on paper and delivered just what I hoped......8o)
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Independence Day + Back to the Future + Matrix
boozika200027 September 2003

This movie is not about logic, reason, plot-holes. It is, however, all about entertainment.

The story is very cute with a happy ending, the actors do the job pretty good, and especially the villain.

Special effects in Yamazaki films are some of the best I've ever seen and surpass Hollywood sci-fi movies easily.

This is a must for all sci-fi lovers.

I work in a DVD rental store, and ever since I brought this movie on DVD (Zone 3), my customers just love the movie, not to mention the DTS sound.

Highly reccomended.
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superb and well crafted sci fi film
arker10 February 2004
This film I rented this past weekend, I had my doubts because i actually havent had good experiences with asian films, they are too silly and badly made, with characters that sometimes are supposed to be funny but are ridiculuos instead. With exagerated action and stupid acting in general, But I saw the image for this film, and i kind of like it. So I gave it a shot. And let me tell you this film has no silliness in it, I LOVED IT. IT has plenty of emotive acting, and relly good action. WHAT I LIKED THE MOST IS THAT AS DIFFERENT AS ANY OTHER ASIAN FILM I HAVE SEEN, THIS ONE IS REALLY WELL CRAFTED. The acting is excellent I LOVED THE CHILDS CHARACTER AND THE ACTION. I actually went to buy this film, I HAD TO OWN IT TO SEE IT SEVERAL TIMES. Really superior film. And though it has some elements from other famous films, these elements are well intertwined making an excellent experience of a film. And these days what film is utter original, come on!!!, the importance of a film is the craft of it, the emotions that it conveys, I am looking forward for the next films of this director Takashi Yamazaki. WAY TO GO!!!
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Wasted opportunity
VoodooVince25 March 2004
I can forgive this film for it's derivate nature. I have no real concerns with it pinching elements from a myriad of films. (If you see it you'll know which films) What annoys me is even with the blatant plagiarising going on it could have been so much better than it turned out to be. Three main factors murder the film in cold blood. One is the sorry excuse for a script. Just because the premise was unoriginal didn't mean they had to throw in every cliche in the book. It's awful, awful writing. Plain embarrassing. I squirmed on many occasions. Secondly the soundtrack. What a mess. Bouncing from heavy rock to dance fused rock to serene piano and strings all within a few scenes. It's one of the worst soundtracks ever and seriously disrupts the film. Lasty are the character inconsistencies. Our hero flits from being an unstoppable, brutal, emotionless killing machine with no fear to a scared kid getting freaked out by a fire alarm. It just doesn't sit right at all. His character arc is all over the place. All these factors, not the story itself, contribute to dragging Returner down to straight to video hell. A shame as the production values ain't too bad. One last thing. The director handles the action well but seemingly has no idea what type of film he wants to make. The tone of the film zig zags from one extreme to the other leaving you completely bewildered. If you can ignore the poor writing and the messy structure then you may get some enjoyment from this little flick. The action scenes ain't too bad after all. Don't expect too much from the film itself though.

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Not bad, though no points for originality!
Wizard-825 October 2003
If you watch enough Japanese sci-fi films (live-action or animated), you'll see that their makers *love* to get their ideas from American films. This one is no exception; among other films, you'll see elements of THE TERMINATOR, INDEPENDENCE DAY, and E.T. There's even evidence that the filmmakers saw the Jack Scalia/Dennis Christopher direct-to-video flick THE SILENCERS! As derivative as the movie may be, it's still pretty entertaining. Sure, the story has a few murky plot points, but none that terribly confuse you about what is going on. And while it's directed in that stiff and somewhat sterile style often found in Japanese films, that feeling is much less intense than usual. The movie rolls along at an acceptable clip, there are some neat action scenes, and the special effects are often pretty good for what must have been a limited budget. Not a movie to actively seek out, but it's a good one to pick up when your neighborhood Asian DVD rental place is offering 3 rentals for $10. Ten lashes with a whip for the Universe Laser & Video Co., however, for one of the crummiest DVD transfers to date!
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jhs3919 May 2003
Crummy Japanese action flick starts off as a rip off of The Matrix (action scenes) and The Terminator (basic plot), then eventually gets sappy and turns into ET. I really, really hated this one. The effects sucked, there wasn't a single original idea to be found and the movie never seemed like it was going to end. Minor virtues: the lead actress was cute and looked like a live action anime character and the surprise ending would have been moving and clever in the service of a better movie, but all in all unless you're twelve years old I would probably avoid this one.
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OK Film Still Delivers Big
Exile-Inc16 February 2004
Yes, there is no denying it. Takashi Yamazaki's "Returner" is a an OK film. Not something that was ever going to win any academy awards or even set a new standard for filmmakers everywhere. But it certainly was an awesome OK film.

The story, which can be seen to pull itself from some 5 other movies, still makes it interesting to watch with only a few small holes visible if you watch and re-watch it. Takeshi Kaneshiro delivers a solid performance as a mercenary for hire who is forced to befriend Ann Suzkuki's character (Milly) who also provides a stellar performance as a "Returner" despite the fact that Ann was only 14 when the film was made. Being able to show both emotion as well as chemistry together, the two really elevate the film into a good movie.

While some may put down the storyline that draws from all the other movies, it is none-the-less entertaining and worth the while to rent. With the strong lead characters, and eye opening special effects and CG including a variation of the famous "Bullet Time", "Returner" is not a film you will be disappointed with.
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Good sci-fi stuff with really nice effects
juha-mertanen22 February 2005
The reason I originally got interested of the movie was the trailer that is absolutely stunning! Movie proved to be a good sci-fi stuff with really nice effects but didn't fill all high expectations set by the trailer.

I anyway liked the movie and would recommend it to everybody who likes explosions, guns, special effects and cgi-animations. Plot didn't offer anything special but it didn't disturb me like in Terminator 3.

Movie is quite well shot and actors are cool even if their acting is a bit Japanese. Movie has both fast-paced action sequences and some slower parts that are quite well balanced. If you just want action and "Hasta La Vista BABY!" is all the talking you want in a movie then you'll have time to go to the fridge when guns stop singing.

If you want to look for a problems of the movie I'd say that the main problem is that the characters are flat. This might be due to the fact that they are exactly same kind that in thousand other sci-fi / action movie.

Also it puzzles me how humans first of all managed to build a time machine - but maybe we don't want to get too much in to that.
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Ordinary and unoriginal
George Parker15 February 2004
"Returner" tells of an assassin who encounters a teen female during a firefight and learns she has traveled back through time to prevent a sci-fi war between good and evil and save humanity from oblivion. A kind of second rate knock-off of everything from John Woo stylistics to Mad Max contraptions, this Japanese B-flick misses the opportunity to capitalize on the girl/guy team humanistics as it ventures into CGI man vs machine silliness. Dubbed in English and with subtitles, "Returner" makes for a campy action romp which will play best with tech-heads and gamer-types into anything action. (C)
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The Best action/sci-fi movie since "The Matrix"
seaforce14 July 2003
There are very few action/sci-fi movies that are truly amazing, "Returner" is one of them! This is a Japanese movie which i watched with english subtitles. Im not a great fan of Japanese action-movies (although i like other Jap-movies like Battle Royale, Ringu, Mononoke Hime) therefore my expectations of this movie wasnt set very high. I was extremely positively surpised to see this quality in a action/sci-fi coming from Japan. The director, Takashi Yamazaki, has done such a great job with this movie that it can be compared with the work of e.g director James Cameron (Aliens, Terminator 1&2 etc). The acting from the two main actors in the movie are very well performed and they show a wide range of emotions, without overacting - its perfect! The story is entertaining and and the effects are mostly of very high class. Its a very cool movie and i never wanted it to end. I saw this movie with some mates the day after i saw it the first time and its clear that "Returner" deserves its place in my dvd-collection among classics like "The Matrix", "Equilibrium", "Aliens", "Terminator" and "Terminator 2" to name a few. I give it 10/10.
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One of the best (Matrix ripoff my ass)
M. M.7 February 2005
This movies just goes to show you that Hollywood is nothing compared to the Asian movie industry. One of the greater aspects is the breath taking special effects that Hollywood is not capable of matching plus the story line is more original than any Hollywood movie would provide so yeah this movie is just great plus the actors can actually act. Maybe people should give more credit to Japanese and Chinese movie maker because believe me from all the movies I've seen the Asians always surpass the Hollywood folk in every way possible. well OK the are one or two good Hollywood movies but still I prefer these non Hollywood. If you haven't watched the movie yet you should cause you will like it believe me you will. One piece of advice if you rent it keep the Japanese voices on and use the English subtitles. Plus whoever said this is a Matrix ripoff should be called retarded for the main reason that The Matrix is a Japanese Manga so to those who say that go watch a tree grow you idiots.
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Much more than I expected
kld006826 April 2014
Warning: Spoilers
What I expected was a so so Japanese version of a sort of sci-fi/alien/Terminator type story. I was pleasantly surprised to see the story develop into something original and unique.

Milly travels back in time as the cusp of an alien takeover of Earth. Her goal is to prevent the aliens from reaching the point where they are too strong to defeat.

The story was well told with not only sci-fi alien invasion and time travel, but it was also a Asian gangster and revenge flick. There were a couple of E.T.esque soppy moments, but the film was had a good amount of action, explosions, subtle humor, and an interesting multifaceted story.
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Transformers meets The Matrix meets ET meets Back To The Future.
OneEightNine Media19 November 2016
Transformers meets The Matrix meets ET meets Back To The Future. Seriously, this movie is insane, but in a good kind of way. It was made in the early 2000s and it is a Japanese film, so sadly the special effects are sometimes awful. But then again sometimes the special effects are great by today's standards. Anyway, this is a science fiction film about a girl who travels back in time to prevent an alien invasion of earth. She meets an assassin with a heart of gold and pure entertainment transpires. Needless to say the action is high caliber, the acting is refreshingly excellent with little camp, which is rare for a Japanese science fiction film made back in the early 2000s. The plot should be the biggest drawback of the film because we've literally seen it a thousand times before, however this film does the impossible. It not only shamelessly borrows the major plot points from numerous American SciFi classics, it makes each of those plot elements it's very own. But what really puts this film over the top is a very simple but all so forgotten thing when it comes to movies; solid character development. The backstory of both lead actors makes you not only care about them but root for them. The villain is a great kind of villain. A villain can make or break any movie. Lucky this villain is as entertaining as he is menacing. And he is a villain with an agenda that runs parallel to the main story but isn't reliant on the story; which is impressive writing and directing if you ask me. Marvel Studios could learn a lesson from them on how to solve their villain track record. To make a long story short, I highly recommended this hidden gem. If you happen to stumble upon it, it would be worthwhile checking it out.
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OMG.. Style over Substance
puppethead235 November 2006
No movie I think illustrates the example of Style over Substance moreso I think than than this movie. Its a common trait it seems among Asian cinema to throw in flash with no substance at all. Yes I know Hollywood does this too, but it seems to me that 9/10 Asian films that have great special FX have terrible writing and the same goes for so much Anime. (not knocking all Asian films Oldboy is one of my favs!)

OK first off, I cannot at all knock the direction, cinematography, and FX in this movie. They are all superb.

Now with that said. Everything else is pure DRECK! I mean its so bad you have to turn your brain off COMPLETELY. This movie has the cheesiest villain in it, I've ever seen.. Right up ther with the villain in Final Fantasy - Spirits Within.

"If I can't use this weapon, It's JUNK!" like a child who tosses away a toy because he can't figure it out. Why did he ever expect to figure it out.. ITS ALIEN! He gambled his whole organization on the hunch that he could just magically use an alien ship to take over the world. God what an idiot. And many times did I count in this movie when Hero - Villain come face to face and don't shoot each other? About 5/6 times?! Then there's this great ability that nobody seems to realize they have. The hero's can slow down time, seemingly anytime they want. But they use this ability maybe 3 times in the whole movie, and use it in the dumbest ways I could imagine.

They didn't even try to write in a simple contrivance that explains the power might be limited in some way, or only had so much energy. No they just ignored all logic and just didn't use it. Like the characters just Forget they have this godly power.

Then there's the Aliens which hardly serve any purpose in the whole movie accept to show us a few great transforming effects. And finally there's this ending with the girl disappearing. WHY? Oh.. she's going back into the future now. What a great time machine! It just knows that your job is complete so it starts slowing making you disappear and reappear in the future. How nice of it to do that! More like, your disappearing because perhaps you erased your future self and altered your future so that you were never born. But hey go ahead and believe that the future is looking out for you always and now its programmed to bring you back safely.

This has got to be a show for young kids because Nobody over the age of 12 would not find this movie utterly ridiculous.

God please teach film producers to look at hireing decent writers! They are Much More Important to a good movie, than Director, Actor, FX!
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Impressive Failure
NIXFLIX-DOT-COM31 August 2003
RETURNER has the makings of a good science fiction film. It has all the ingredients in all the right doses. The cool, loner hero; the hot chick from the future; and a big enough budget that it's never lacking for visual treats. And yet, the whole thing is built from a poor script that lacks coherence, logic, and most of all, fails on every conceivable level.

It's bad enough that there are so many awful movies out there nowadays, but you really hate to see a film like RETURNER, which has so much going for it, failing so badly. Even if it had reached the level of dumb action movie, it might have been more successful than it currently is.

As it stands, the poorest element of RETURNER is its juvenile and logic-defying screenplay. With another script, this could very well be the best Japanese sci-fi of the millenium. As it stands, RETURNER is just an impressive failure. Impressive visually, but atrocious when it comes to story.

4 out of 10

(go to for a more detailed review of this movie and reviews of other foreign films)
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