7.4/10
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Key of Life (2012)

Kagi-dorobô no mesoddo (original title)
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A failed actor switches identities with a stranger at a bath house -- only to find himself filling the shoes of an elite assassin.

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4 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Masato Sakai ...
Sakurai
...
Kondo
Ryôko Hirosue
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Yoshiyoshi Arakawa
Yuina Arakawa
Daisuke Hibi
Miwako Kakei
Yôko Moriguchi
...
Shoko Mizushima
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A failed actor switches identities with a stranger at a bath house -- only to find himself filling the shoes of an elite assassin.

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Comedy | Crime | Romance

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15 September 2012 (Japan)  »

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Key of Life  »

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1.85 : 1
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Totally entertaining in a thoughtful way
27 August 2012 | by (Hong Kong) – See all my reviews

Ever since I saw Kenji Uchida's "A Stranger of Mine," I became a big fan of his. When I knew his work would be shown at the Summer Festival, I dashed to get a ticket and looked forward to watching it.

It turned out to be better than I expected. When/if it is publicly released here, I will definitely watch it again. Behind the laughs and sadness, there is some sense of compassion for the modern men and women which made you want to munch on the plot and scenes days after the movie.

A superb plot and great observer of daily life. In many ways, a killer's life is quite similar to an actor's when he had to pose as many different people. Except in our movie, the actor is a lousy one: Sakai Masato's plays Sakuari, an attempted and disorganized actor who fails to make ends meet, let alone realizing his dream in acting. Sakai seems such a different person from "My SO has got depression" although in both movies he plays a weak character who tends to have apologetic smiles. Sometimes I wonder if he is really a bad actor or he is playing the role of a bad actor because some scenes were bad when he held one facial expression for probably too long. Or was he just playing dumb?

Opposite the spectrum is professional killer Kondo (Kagawa Teruyuki) who is organized, thoughtful and serious even when he has got amnesia. He tries very hard to regain his memory, only to find that he is twirled into a mishap involving the Yakuza gangsters. Kagawa is not very good looking but somehow the killer's personality makes him quite attractive with a little comical trace.

The full comedy comes into place when their identities are switched, as in "The Prince and the Pauper," except here the swap is not voluntary. The laughers are guaranteed to intensify when kind and sensible Kanae (Hirosue Ryoko) steps in to help Kondo regain his memory while looking for her husband to appear in a pre-arranged wedding.

The art direction is excellent: the numerous fake IDs, detailed hand- written notes, elaborated and well-stocked wardrobes all contribute rich accents to the story and is crucial to the final scene.

An intriguing but very interesting plot. Very witty lines and superb performance by the cast. You can see human compassion here and there which makes the movie very enjoyable and makes you have more faith and confidence in life. Highly recommended.


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