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Yosuke, a typical slacker kid dozing his way through school, showing nothing in the way of ambition as he quietly mulls over the death of a close friend the year before. He is clever enough and full of smart comments but just doesn't seem to see the point of much in life. That changes when he meets Eri by chance, late one night. She is a beautiful young girl, herself nursing a tragic loss, and for Yosuke it is love at first sight. So what to do when a giant falls from the sky, determined to do battle with Eri (the young girl armed with a brace of hidden knives, as this is obviously a regular occurrence)? Yosuke finds his purpose-he must help the girl he loves, never mind the fact that she is far stronger and better equipped for this battle than he. Written by
Todd Brown for Fantasia Film Festival
I Guess the Japanese Can Also Drop the Ball Sometimes
I greatly anticipated this movie since I heard of it in late 2007. After recent releases like "The Machine Girl" (2008), "Chocolate" (2008), "The Chaser" (2008), and "Vexille" (2007) (all of which can be classified as awesome feats of pure entertainment), I was even more confident that East Asian cinema could continue its nearly perfect 2008 in terms of my personal highly anticipated releases. Well, I'm sorry to report that they dropped the ball with this one.
A high school student helps a cute girl in her fight against a chainsaw wielding wraith. The overall tone is much too silly for its own good, with a main character who's a total klutz, not very likable, and played by an actor who simply can't act. I was going to give him the benefit of the doubt, but he's just bad. Sure, he's not quite as horrible as that blonde kid from "Battle Royale 2" (2003), but they should have gotten someone else. And why on earth is Rika Ishikawa relegated to a cameo? After her memorable bad girl performance in "Yo-Yo Girl Cop" (2006), she should have been the obvious choice for the lead female role here. The girl they got was okay, but Rika would have added more spice.
The action scenes are a mixed bag, some of which being blandly choreographed (the opening, the ending, etc.) while others are very cool (the swimming pool scene, the village brawl, etc.). All of the fights, however, are way too short, have no buildup or climax beforehand, and feel like they were randomly inserted just for the hell of it. The cinematography and SFX during the battles are very nice, but the editing seemed overly abrupt in a number of instances. Sometimes the wraith would show up, but the scene would cut away before the fight even begins. That's just crap, man! It's almost like they wanted to show the bad guy as many times as possible without actually having to put effort into providing an actual action scene. Still, all is not lost here. The aforementioned swimming pool and village brawl scenes were pretty damn sweet and fun to watch, but the action sequences on the whole just didn't feel satisfying to me.
I watched a version without English subtitles, so I can't comment on the dialogue. However, I can say without question that the subplot involving the high school kid's rockstar buddy was totally superfluous and should have been scrapped completely. The romantic interaction between the leads seemed pretty shallow too. Everything was just clichéd and formulaic with little in terms of interesting moments. There is the possibility that I missed something without the English subs, but I doubt I'll return to this movie in the future to find out (though I may re-watch a few action scenes now and again).
The filmmakers should have either made this a serious romance/action/fantasy film with a solid script, or a balls-to-the-wall action/comedy that goes nuts. Instead, they ended up making a film that's simply too safe and timid to be memorable, and in the end it just feels like they half-heartedly slapped it all together. I can't say I ever got bored, because it moved at a good pace and never really lost my attention, which is a good thing. But I walk away from this like I walk away from most Hollywood movies with a nonchalant indifference and regret of what could have been (ala "Planet Terror").
I'm sure some people will enjoy this, but do yourself a favor and watch any number of recent East Asian titles before this one. In particular, try the aforementioned films for some truly satisfying summer blockbusters.
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