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Bearly watchable
ropenico15 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This is the last but one film by Hideo Gosha and sadly it does not hold a candle to his earlier works such as Goyokin or Hitokiri. The fundamental problem lies in the truly awful screenplay: The story takes an implausible turn in the second half and much of the dialogue seems to be cut out straight from a second-rate women's romance. Not to mention gratuitous nudity and even a soft porn-like sex scene. The result is a cinematically well executed but otherwise rather low-brow entertainment with a simple good vs evil plot.

SPOILER ALERT The gist of the story is as follows: A young girl called Orin witnesses murder of her gambler-father for cheating. Orin is then adopted by a well-off restaurant owner and his wife. When her younger brother (a biological son of the couple) is bullied because of her background, the then teenage Orin decides to leave her loving family and somehow becomes an accomplished gambler herself. A (yakuza?) boss wants Orin to represent him in an upcoming big-time card game tournament. While en route there she runs into her now grown up brother and learns that his family have lost all their property to gambling debt. Orin thus decides to buy the restaurant back for her brother with the money she hopes to win. Needless to say the new restaurant owner Otaki and his mistress are very wicked people indeed and we are constantly reminded how evil they are. In order to win the aforementioned card tournament they hire the best gambler in Japan, Tsunejiro "the Immovable", to play on their behalf. Predictably, the final round of the card game comes down to Orin against Tsune. But there's a bizarre twist: not only we learn that it was Tsune who murdered Orin's father some twenty years ago but this impervious, poker-faced character who ignores women even when they throw themselves on him suddenly falls head over heels in love with Orin, and she willingly reciprocates his feelings. A dramatic as well as melodramatic finale follows. END OF SPOLER ALERT

What keeps the movie afloat are the visuals, good pacing and for the most part decent acting. I was particularly impressed by Tatsuya Nakadai's portrayal of Tsune. Not that this role is memorable in any way. Rather, despite the cheesy lines inflicted by the scriptwriter, Nakadai with his restrained performance managed to wrestle some dignity into a painfully campy character. Even so I felt mildly embarrassed to see this superb actor in a part well below his league.
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Woman gambler attempts to win back her adopted parent's restaurant from thugs
ChungMo30 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Late Hideo Gosha film is a well made but ultimately unimpressive entry in the gambler/ underworld genre. The gambling card game that is the focus of many Japanese films is still a mystery to me but here it's filmed with enough style that the long sequences are not hard to sit thru. The story is what counts.

Rin is a traveling gambler who goes by the name of "Luminesent Rin". She is apparently a well known and respected but not considered to be among the elite gamblers. Heading to a job for "Boss Masa", a powerful mob boss (?), she unexpectedly runs into her younger brother in the train station on the run from thugs. She rescues him and pays off his gambling debts. Finding out that her brother has lost the family restaurant due to gambling debts, she decides to return to her home town to do something about it. She was adopted by her brother's parents when her birth father, also a gambler, was murdered for cheating. With Boss Masa's approval she returns home. There she confronts the evil Otaki, a murderous gangster and his mistresses. She vows to win back the restaurant during the gambling contest but Otaki decides to kill her brother before she has a chance. Things don't work out the way Otaki plans so he hires Tseunejiro, the "Spellbinder", the best gambler in Japan to defeat her. And so the movie goes to a chaotic climax.

Very well made and decently acted by everyone involved but the lead actress, Kaneko Higuchi, while excellent at times is not intense enough in some scenes and is really not up to the action finale. Tatsuya Nakadai seems bored at times.

Not up to Gosha's better films but very watchable.
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