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Yu Chun Lin
The film centers an aged movie extra who specializes to be killed in samurai movies without ever being lit by the limelight. Using Charlie Chaplin's film Limelight as an underlying theme, the admirable story of Seiichi Kamiyama dealing with a new generation and fading craftsmanship is told with melancholy and soul.Written by
Kamiyama Seiich is a veteran samurai actor of 40 years specializing in the drop dead role of "kirare-yaku". A young producer cancels the long-running series in favor of a more youth-oriented subject matter. This leaves Kamiyama and the bulk of his aging colleagues out of work. While Kamiyama gets sympathy from the managing director, a long-time colleague and cohort, he receives hostile and disrespectful treatment from the new generations of actors, directors, and producers. Facing a lack of work, Kamiyama is relegated to performing his kirare-yaku with his fellow aging actors live in front of tourist in the studio park performance. His performance catches the eye of a young and up-and-coming actress, Iga Satsuki. She begs him to teach her the art of swordplay. Initially reluctant, he agrees and soon comes to embrace her as his protégé. His advice to her is that if you put your best efforts forward, you will always receive help. With her training, Iga soon rises to become a top star. Eventually the park show closes forcing Kamiyama into retirement. A few years later, Iga is asked to star in a remake and reunion of the long-running samurai series that Kamiyama became famous for. Iga accepts on condition that Kamiyama play the lead kirare-yaku role. During the first take, Kamiyama flinches in his performance. The director immediately decides to cut Kamiyama's scenes and role. The same producer who eliminated the original series, ironically comes forth to overrule the director. As the actors retake their positions for the next take, the lead samurai actor asks Kamiyama if he is OK. Kamiyama replies yes but comments that his performance is "rusty." This derogatory comment sparks the best in the lead actor and the rest as the veterans once again demonstrate their experienced, well honed-in art. In the finale, Kamiyama enacts his famous kirare-yaku. It could be interpreted that his final performance was his best and also his last breath. This movie is metaphoric of the modern times when the younger generation, eager for instant fame and success without paying their dues, puts them at odds with veteran actors whom they view as threats to their job security and careers.
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