In this sequel to Red Cliff, first minister Cao Cao convinces Emperor Han to initiate a battle against the two Kingdoms of Xu and Wu, who have become allied forces, against all expectations... See full summary »
Tony Chiu Wai Leung,
It's a heroic tale of three blood brothers and their struggle in the midst of war and political upheaval. It is based on "The Assassination of Ma," a Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) story about ... See full summary »
Keith is a Japanese twenty-something who is followed by Death in various disguises. When he finally faces her, Death tells him that he has only 12 hours to live and he needs to make the ... See full summary »
I was surprised by how much fun I had with this film. I was skeptical, but this turned out to be a really enjoyable Japanese film. It reminded me of 90's action adventure period pieces like The Shadow and The Rocketeer, which were some of my favorite films to watch as a kid. If you also enjoyed films like those, and to a lesser extent, films like Indiana Jones and other period action adventures, you will no doubt enjoy the film too.
The film takes place in Japan, 1949. World War II never took place and Japan remained with the feudal system, while the poor and the wealthy remained separate with no middle class. The wealthy rule, while the poor are left to starve and die on the street. None help the poor, with the exception of K-20, a master thief who steal priceless artifacts from the rich.
The film's main focus is Endo Eikichi, a circus performer who is tricked by K-20 into committing a crime and taking the blame for being K-20 himself. From there one, Eikichi is set on a quest to catch K-20 and clear his name.
The best thing about the film is its lead, Takeshi Kaneshiro as Eikichi. He's highly entertaining, as usual, and does a good job as he goes from agile circus performer to competent thief. He's funny, exciting, and plays up all the right things for this kind of film. The supporting cast is great as well, made up of several veterans of Japanese film and TV. They deliver in their performances with the right mix of adventurous spirit, drama, camp, and humor.
The film is also big, with some big sets, and few decent cg sets, and some big action moments. The best action sequences utilize parkour-style stunts, but less in the way B13 does it and more in common with something like Assassin's Creed, which came to mind during the big training sequences. These sorts of action scenes are a lot of fun and create for some excellent foot chases.
While the film does get a bit preachy about its rich versus poor plot line, it remains fun and, even when it slows down, the acting keeps you engaged. There is also a great deal of humor mixed in, which keeps things light. Suffice to say, the film never feels too heavy handed. Although it could have played up it's issues much more seriously, it thankfully never does.
Overall, I have to say that this is one of the more enjoyable Japanese films I have seen in a while. Much like America, I can't say I have seen too much I have thoroughly enjoyed as I enjoyed this film. If there were more films that aimed for the scope and Hollywood scale of this film, with as much talent as went into this film, we might see more enjoyable pictures from Japan.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
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