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A man wakes up to find himself locked in a cramped concrete maze of corridors, in which he can barely move. He doesn't remember why he is there or how he got there. He has a terrible stomach injury and is slowly bleeding to death.
As sadomasochistic yakuza enforcer Kakihara searches for his missing boss he comes across Ichi, a repressed and psychotic killer who may be able to inflict levels of pain that Kakihara has only dreamed of.
Asaka Seto first graced my awareness back when she was featured in the "AGE 35" Japanese TV drama. The young model turned actress made an unforgettable impressive impression. In TRAVAIL (or A WOMAN'S WORK), Asaka Seto plays Asami Honjo, a professional Shogi player (Shogi is a chess-like strategy game). Asami is a minor celebrity in the world of Shogi. She is a ranked champion and her games are sometimes shown on TV. Asami's sister, Rina, is even more successful in the Shogi world. However, one thing these two sisters fail at is maintaining a happy relationship with men. Asami is married to Kazuya Honjo, and lives with her husband in a nice condo with no worries about money, yet she and her husband are unhappy and distant.
Asami's sister, Rina, is unmarried and has had a long series of boyfriends who come and go every four to six months. Her current boyfriend is Hiroki. Interestingly, Hiroki and Asami find it easy to talk with each other about personal issues. And Rina and Kazuya find it easy to speak with each other. In fact, the two sisters clearly have the stronger personalities. The husband and boyfriend are both sometimes used as helpless pawns by the sisters. Things come to a head when one Shogi game between the two sisters will ultimately decide everyone'e future. Who will win in the world of Shogi? Who will win in the personal realm?
TRAVAIL / A WOMAN'S WORK is a drama shot totally in long and medium shots. There is not a single moment of romance or passion. TRAVAIL / A WOMAN'S WORK explores conflict and little more -- but does so fairly well.
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