JAPAN 2009  Directed by: Atsushi Muroga Written by: Atsushi Muroga, Yasutoshi Murakawa Manga by: Michiharu Kusunoki Cast: Yuichi Nakamura, Ryoko Kobayashi, Kazuki Kato, Kosuke Yonehara, Masaki Sada, Shun Sugata, Maimi Okuwa, Rio Matsumoto, Yoshihiko Hakamada

I consider it an art form to make a movie work despite a) cars being the real heroes b) stiff, artificial actors c) loads of cheap CG effects. Atsushi Muroga, director of genre flicks like BLOWBACK 2, SCORE and JUNK has come a long way helming the movie adaptation of successful manga WANGAN MIDNIGHT and is to be credited for making the best out of it for the silver screen adaptation.

Of course, the result is debatable. It’s a film that will divide the audience, but in view of the FAST AND FURIOUS movies it must be said that WANGAN MIDNIGHT – THE MOVIE proves that a movie about street racing doesn’t have to be loud or simple-minded, but can actually be imaginative, lyrical and elegant. WANGAN MIDNIGHT is almost esoteric, a beautiful, melancholic movie adding an element of fantasy / supernatural horror through the diabolical Nissan Z, a car with lethal superpower.

Most of the movie concentrates on the duel between Black Bird and Devil Z, with Devil Z being resurrected by a high school student, Akio Asakura, after it was almost scrapped by Tatsuya Shima, a doctor driving Black Bird (a Porsche). He knows that no one can control Devil Z, the car that has killed his previous owner, brother of the movie’s love interest Reina Akikawa. Tatsuya warns Akio not to restore and drive the Nissan, but Akio doesn’t listen and challenges Tatsuya, who in return has no other choice than to accept and hope to destroy Devil Z once and for all in the race.

What I found striking is that WANGAN MIDNIGHT is not relying on effects at all. It rather focuses on the relationship between human and car, as well as the relationships between the main characters and their past. Not everything may be explained sufficiently, and not everything makes perfectly sense, but Mr. Muroga has chosen a very subtle approach to the topic, delivering the most restrained and aesthetical street racing movie to date. Actually, it’s not really a racing movie after all: it’s a sensitive and mystical urban drama that is highly emotional, touching and yet powerful.

There are flaws aplenty and I would have chosen a different cast (except for the irresistible Ryoko Kobayashi), but nevertheless WANGAN MIDNIGHT has more charm, esprit and brains than all FAST AND FURIOUS movies accumulated. Everything falls into place: WANGAN MIDNIGHT – THE MOVIE may not be a brilliant film, but it’s fascinating and exhilarating from beginning to end.





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  1. gennie m Says:

    where can I buy this dvd!!??

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