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Tony Chiu Wai Leung,
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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.
I watched this film in a sold out theater at the Japan Society in New York and rare is it that I would rather have watched this at home. The audience was laughing out loud at times, which was very obtrusive to me. There are funny moments, but the film is kind of schizophrenic in its approach. The story is about a Grim Reaper (the very good Takeshi Kaneshiro) whose job is to decide whether three separate people live or die. Of the three vignettes, the second, involving a Yakusa, is not good at all. It drags down the film somewhat. The first is very good, the third almost as good, so you have to sit through about a half hour or so of less than good cinema. I find the inclusion of the reaper's companion, the black dog who makes no sound but communicates nonetheless, to be annoying by the end. Also, the reaper is not up on his everyday slang. Why not? Doesn't he follow people around and spend time with them? I was baffled by that. Those lines caused big laughs in the theater, but I found them to be cheap laughs. Now, the film has great moments. The character of Kazue Fujiki is sweet and the third vignette has a little twist which, though I figured it out before it was voiced, was still pretty nice. So, it is a flawed, but worthwhile film. Takeshi Kaneshiro is a popular actor, and I've liked everything I've seen him in. I liked this too, but I felt it was somewhat uneven. A bit of it reminds me of the Nicholas Cage film "City Of Angels" and Brad Pitt's "Meet Joe Black". If you liked those films, this is better. I recommend it, but if you watch it on DVD, consider fast forwarding through the second part. The film becomes a nine, okay?
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