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Aiki (2002)

A wheelchair-bound drop-out becomes a martial arts pupil.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Haruhiko Katô ... Taichi Ashihara
Rie Tomosaka ... Masako
Chiaki Hara ... Tamiko Ashihara
Akiko Kinouchi ... Chika
... Masatsugu Hiraishi
Shôhei Hino ... Kiyoshi
Masahiro Kuwana ... Shotaro Gensui
Kansuke Shimizu ... Kawazoe
... Video-ya no kyaku
... 'Himegoto' no Mama
... Bartender
Shunsuke Matsuoka ... Bar no avec-otoko
... Yubin-haitatsu-in
Hiroshi Kanbe ... Rental Video tenchou
Tomorô Taguchi ... Saburo Ishikawa


When a promising young boxer is crippled in a car accident, he falls into a life of dissipation and depression. No boxing ring or martial arts club will take him on -- that is, until an aiki jujitsu master helps the young man develop techniques uniquely tailored to a wheelchair. What starts off as a sad film revs up into an exciting and fun series of epiphanies in which the young man realizes his situation isn't as hopeless as it seems. Written by Anon

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11 April 2003 (USA)  »

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Onesided view on martial arts
17 November 2002 | by See all my reviews

Director Daisuke Tengan is the first son of Shohei Imamura - so his real name is Daisuke Imamura. Indeed his work as a scriptwriter gives no reason to hide his roots: AUDITION (dir. by Takashi Miike), UNAGI (The Eel) and WARM WATER UNDER A RED BRIDGE (both directed by his father) speak of Daisuke's great talent. On a flyer for AIKI which was given to me on MIFED 2002 by the production company he is quoted: "Life is full of troubles, and very little goes ahead as one imagines." Quite frankly, normally I don't feel that way, things go rather smoothly. I feel Daisuke's view on life is the reason for the exaggerations in his movie which is said to be based on a true story of Ole Kingston Jensen from Denmark, obviously a handicapped martial artist whom we see during the end titles but of whom no one in the internet seems to have heard much. He is the model for protagonist Taichi in the movie, a former boxer who has to live in a wheelchair after a motorcycle accident. The accident, by the way, comes as a surprise to the viewer as to the protagonist. Looking for a way out of his depression, Taichi meets an "Aiki Jujutsu" expert. This a a martial art with a tradition of a thousand years and was once passed down as a secret self defense in the emperor's palace, until it became known to the public when a demonstration similar to those techniques shown in the movie (controlling many opponents, even when lying on the back) was shown on national TV: a style called "Daito-ryu". No doubt, we watch an important part of Japanese culture here. No doubt, the message is once again: Don't give up, in the end you'll win (beat "them"). But as we may know, winning in the end is only an illusion for many in this world, as well as it doesn't really count to win at all - and it surely doesn't work that way. In times of violent attacks of religious weirdos all over this earth I can't really stand the showing off of martial arts that even teach in words (through the instructor in AIKI) that there is no need for violence anymore. The last five minutes, where the AIKI practitioner and somewhat rookie in the wheelchair wins over a Kung Fu style expert are really ridiculous in terms of the art. So Tengan, although a talented filmmaker, has done ideological damage to the KI and the spirit that is (or should be) in all martial arts. Steven Seagal offers a more realistic aikido including defences for attacks that might really happen on the streets (not those staged ones like in AIKI), although his movies are much less mentionable ...

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