Sugihara, born in Japan but with North Korean parents, falls in love with a Japanese girl after changing from a North Korean school to a Japanese school. His boxer dad teaches him boxing - skills used a lot.
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Of all the countries whose films I've seen (see my comment history) I've gotta say only the Japanese seem to be able to create art without seeming pretentious and stuffy. I think it comes from their great cultural tradition of humility, subtlety and, perhaps most importantly, a wacky sense of humour. Here we have a film that explores the most profound philosophical ideas an artist can ever encounter; yet it doesn't come across all dry, heavy and ponderous, the way a Kieslowski film would. And for the record, Kielsowski is one of my favourites.
Where is it written that all cerebral films have to be humourless dramas? And where is it written that all comedies must completely vapid and devoid of philosophy? KOI NO MON is the perfect example of how to get it all in one very entertaining package. Don't let the hilarious opening scene throw you off track; there's a lot more beneath the surface of this insanely goofy flick.
As I said earlier, this film jumps into the fundamental conundrum of all artists (including writers, musicians and chefs also): What do you do when no one understands your art? How do you present a truly revolutionary concept when everyone laughs at you? And in the resulting vacuum, how do you deal with your loneliness and isolation? Heavy stuff. Tarkovsky would have us crying in our beer. But leave it to the Japanese to present the idea every bit as profoundly but in a crazy romantic comedy.
Much like my other favourite underrated Japanese films (University of Laughs, Cutie Honey, Summer Time Machine Blues) this film can be enjoyed by philosophers as well as people just looking to be entertained. It's the ultimate answer to the question "How do you present a truly revolutionary concept when everyone laughs at you?" The answer is: laugh with them. Coat it in comedy, and they'll swallow anything and like it. I sure did.
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