Tomohisa Yamashita is a swindler who deceives other swindlers who have evil intentions: The swindlers who deceive others with words (Shirosagi/White Swindler) and the swindlers who play ...
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Tomohisa Yamashita is a swindler who deceives other swindlers who have evil intentions: The swindlers who deceive others with words (Shirosagi/White Swindler) and the swindlers who play with people's mind and body (Akasagi/Red Swindler).
Instead of resolving the thematic content of the television series, which is the nature and role of justice, Eiga: Kurosagi takes several steps backwards.
We see no discussion of Tsurara's incentive to make a choice upon whether to change her vision of justice nor do we see Kurosaki evolving in his senses. Indeed, it seems at times as if Episode 11 of the series has not even taken place. For example, Kurosaki calls Yoshikawa "Yoshida" when in the final episode he has recognizes her respectfully and stops deliberately getting her name wrong. In the movie he is back to treating her like a nuisance.
Indeed, Maki Horikita as Tsurara Yoshikawa is extremely underused in this film. She is resigned to the role of observer and has no bearing on the outcome of the plot. This is part of why the movie suffers. The series was built around the contrast of vigilante justice or revenge vs the legal system as the arbiter of justice. Tsurara and Kurosaki are contrasts, with Katsuragi and Detective Kashima Masaru as the extreme examples on both sides. Instead the film focuses on only one side, the relationship between Kurosaki and Katsuragi. While it is important that this relationship is resolved at some point, it is only compelling as a sub-plot in the T.V series, and doesn't work as the main story focus of a movie:
"Eiga: Kurosagi" uses a revolving contrast to the death of Julius Caesar, with Katsuragi and Kurosaki discussing Brutus' betrayal of the ancient Roman emperor. However, it is foggy as to what the relationship of this metaphor is to the characters. Katsuragi says, "Then you tell me, how would you respond if a person you trusted betrayed you?" when at this point, we have no reason to believe Kurosaki trusts Katsuragi. He doesn't actually show sympathy for the old man until the end of the film, after he has obtained certain knowledge about his past. Until that point, Kurosaki is only using Kat to thin the ranks of swindlers until he can defeat Mikimoto, which is main plot of the whole television series.
Complicating matters is a drawn out introduction that lacks motivation. It is designed to be fun but is not entertaining. I understand that some people may watch the movie that have not watched the series and perhaps that is helpful for them, but a literal explanation of Kurosaki's role and relationship to other characters would have been best explained by action and events and not talk. As it is shown, it only seems to slow the pacing of movie, and the whole film suffers for it. It is also difficult to imagine watching the film as removed from the jdorama series anyway, so this effort seems wasted. Time spent on the introduction could have been better used solidifying the roles of other characters. For example, a simple meeting between Kashima and Kurosaki at the beginning of the film would have made more sense.
The main plot revolves around a little girl who needs a heart transplant, and her mothers efforts to get the money needed to pay for it. Somehow a swindler has gotten his hands on her savings and she is now unable to pay for for the operation. Obviously, Kurosaki gets involved and comes to recognize that the mother is only one of many victims of the same swindler.
The film updates a clock lay-over towards the end as if to as if to update the audience of a countdown to a plot event. However, the clock is a cheap device to create suspense and it backfires. This is also the case for a dream-sequence/commercial Kurosaki gives to explain how his money-card system works to other swindlers. That kind of stuff can fly on television, but not on the big screen.
There are a few positives in the film. Takenaka Naoto is great as "white swindler" Ishigaki, doing his best film work since 2002's "Ping Pong". When Maki does get screen time, she steals every moment of it. It's amusing to see that Kurosaki has a car in the film and can actually drive, instead of walking everywhere like he does in the television series.
It's also nice to see Katsuragi someplace other than inside his bar for once. Yamapi is acceptable as Kurosaki, effectively playing down his catch-phrases and idol status, taking the role more seriously instead of reverting to nervously gulping over and over again as he does in his other roles.
I could go on, but the question remains: If you are not going to bring the story to a thematic conclusion, or at least add logically to the course of events, why bother making the film? The ending attempts to refocus things back to the main story arc, but you can't deny what came in the two hours before was confusing, poorly edited and not compelling. The swindled mother and daughter are not given enough screen time, so when we finally reach the would-be tearful climax of the movie, it lacks the appropriate emotional impact.
The reality is that any episode of Kurosagi would have served as a better big-screen basis than this idea. Overall, this film is an embarrassment to the solid original manga and especially to the exceptional television series. Unfortunately, for those who liked the jdorama, you have no choice but to watch the film anyway: a door is left open again, for a sequel or second season.
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