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An espionage thriller set in the 1950s and adapted from the novel "Year Suan/Plot Against" by May Jia. Tony Leung Chiu Wai plays a blind man who works for a piano tuner. He is recruited for a spy mission because of his exceptional hearing.
Koji Namiki, a talented young pitcher, who had won the National High School Baseball Championships enters university, but soon afterwards injures his elbow. He and his teammates work hard to get back on the field placing all his hopes on a new slow-ball, "the magic pitch." However, the outbreak of WWII wipes out the baseball ambitions from everyone. They join the military and in the navy undergo the severe training that prepares them for death. Death awaits them in a "kaiten" (special attack submarine or "human torpedo") within the gloomy ocean depths, but Koji never gives up his dream of the "magic pitch." Written by
This one lobs about the middle of the submarine movie league table - not as good as BEDFORD INCIDENT or MORNING DEPARTURE, better than RUN SILENT RUN DEEP or GRAY LADY DOWN.
The plot shows, in not all that convincing detail, the training and deployment of Kaitan or one man human torpedoes in the later stages of WW2. Being a Japanese film gives it unfamiliarity and the cultural shadings may be lost on a Western Audience. Detail, like rising above the depth charges, is new. There's ambivalence toward the instructors, who are harsh but concerned and towards the young kamikaze operators who are not too bright but determined to show The Right Stuff.
The story line is broken by details of the lead's home life - star pitcher for the Meiji baseball team (they don't labor the irony of playing the national game of the enemy,) his resigned parents and his squeeze. Some of the imagery is striking - the farewell at the train station with with all the red dot flags - and the attempted launch does have genuine suspense, with the implications of failure explored in a detail which is the film's most interesting element.
Production is assured without being all that convincing. The underwater effects work is good.
4 of 9 people found this review helpful.
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