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Ashita no Joe is a famous Japanese manga started in 1968 that chronicles the story of Joe, a down of his luck poor chap that will rise to fame thanks to a former trainer that will teach him boxing. Basically, the Rocky story. Except... in Japanese. And done before Rocky.
So this is a live movie adaptation of the manga and... I cannot really recommend this movie. I guess they were trying to keep it manga-like, but that just made it ridiculous and impossible to take seriously.
As it is the case with many Japanese movies, the acting is overkill. Everything is exaggerated; reactions, facial expressions, drama. The acting was kind of bad. I sometimes found myself chuckling at dramatic scenes that were supposed to move you because it was so overdone. It is also plagued with dumb humor that just isn't funny.
The fight scenes were impressive and disappointing at the same time. The first ring match, for example, I thought was great. The boxing looked real and had a touch of unrealism that was exciting to watch. The problem is that Joe's signature move, the cross-counter, becomes too much of an easy way out and one hit KO. To the point where that might become the only punch he'll throw in an entire match. Rocky = good unrealistic fighting. Ashita no Joe = mixed bag. The final fight is also utterly disappointing.
What is good is the cinematography. Everything looks great. Also, seeing Japan in the 1960s is one of the highlights of the film. The sets are great and it's interesting to go back to a time when Japan was mostly poor.
Overall, I wouldn't recommend this movie unless you're an Ashita no Joe fan, and even then. I gave it a five because it looks beautiful and some of the fights / training sessions were interesting, but that's about it. If you want to see better Japanese movies that are in the same vein (though not boxing), I recommend Crows Zero and its sequel, Crows Zero II. Though they suffer from some of the same flaws, it is to a much lesser extent and they are much better movies in my opinion.
Watch if curious, but you're safe to skip this one.
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