Posts Tagged ‘Teruyuki Kagawa’



Worth checking out is also Masahiro Kobayashi’s (THE REBIRTH) new movie HARU TONO TABI, an odd road movie with an ex-fisherman taking his granddaughter to visit his family in northern Japan.

Starring Tatsuya Nakadai as fisherman and Eri Tokunaga as granddaughter. The cast also includes Hideji Otaki, Kin Sugai, Yuko Tanaka, Chikage Awashima, Akira Emoto, Jun Miho, Teruyuki Kagawa, Naho Toda and Kaoru Kobayashi. Release date is end of May.




JAPAN 2010  Directed by: Yoshihiro Nakamura  Novel by: Kotaro Isaka Produced by: Hitoshi Endo  Cast: Masato Sakai, Yuko Takeuchi, Hidetaka Yoshioka, Hitori Gekidan, Shihori Kanjiya, Saki Aibu, Akira Emoto, Teruyuki Kagawa, Nao Omori, Bengal, Shiro Ito, Gaku Hamada

Some movies defy all logic. Or maybe they create their very own view of what’s logical. Nakamura’s man-on-the-run flick GOLDEN SLUMBER is either absurd or a brilliant example of a Kafkaesque situation spinning out of control, paired with more conspiracy theories than even Noam Chomsky can dream up.

Everyman hero Aoyagi meets an old friend, only to realize that his mate had been ordered to lure him close to the prime minister’s parade that day so that some dark forces can make him the scapegoat of an assassination plot. Just as predicted, Aoyagi becomes the new Oswald as soon as the prime minister is dead. As his friend dies from a car bomb Aoyagi starts running with hundreds of cops on his trail, trying to understand what on earth is happening. Things only get worse when he crosses paths with a wanted serial killer who seems to have a score to settle with some of the investigators chasing Aoyagi. After being double-crossed by friends and foes alike the serial killer is about the only one left to trust – until a small group of people comes to Aoyagi’s rescue and joins forces with him to fight against the authorities and their dirty games.

Nakamura must be an admirer of Hitchcock and avid fan of Hollywood thrillers, just as much as he must have studied most of Sabu’s oeuvre very well. We’re back to the question of logic: logic is not what we expect what should happen based on empirical assumption, logic is what works for you no matter how fucked-up the situation is you’re in. Logic’s not about what is, it’s about what will be.

According to Nakamura there is no point in asking why Aoyagi is framed and how come he of all people must run into that serial killer on the loose. The ending of GOLDEN SLUMBER is the best proof that the movie is not about why – it completely ignores the audience’s wish to know who’s behind the assassination and how exactly it was plotted. Equally irrelevant is the question who the serial killer is and what beef he has with the police – or why he sympathizes with Aoyagi.

The really smart thing about GOLDEN SLUMBER is that we are and stay in the same situation Aoyagi is in, and we have to deal with it just as he has to deal with it. This is a very creative process, unpredictable, hilarious, never boring. There is method to the madness.

GOLDEN SLUMBER is creativity unleashed and then channeled through a very tight story corset so that the pressure is always on and pushes us to the edge of the seat. Multiple plot threads are tied together, but will never be fully untied so that the heat of the moment is the driving force behind GOLDEN SLUMBER, and not a linear chain of cause and effect. All this wrapped in fantastic visuals, outstanding editing and a great score, filled to the brim with black humor, smart dialogue and fabulous acting across the board.

Most movies suffer from the need to explain everything. They do not leave any room for imagination. They are designed for people who love to avoid thinking and just want to consume what’s put in front of them. The celluloid guinea pigs.

Movies that come close to what art’s supposed to be involve the viewer, inspire contemplation and leave many things unexplained simply because art doesn’t dictate perspectives, it opens perspectives. A great movie is a movie that allows us to see ourselves in it.

GOLDEN SLUMBER is one of the best Japanese movies of 2010 so far, and it stands a chance to come out on top of the hit list by end of the year. Clearly, GOLDEN SLUMBER is must-see cinema.




JAPAN 2009  Directed by: Toya Sato  Manga by: Noboyuki Fukumoto Written by: Mika Omori Cinematography: Katsumi Yanagijima Music: Yugo Kanno Cast: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Kenichi Matsuyama, Teruyuki Kagawa, Taro Yamanoto, Yuki Amami, Ken Mitsuishi, Kei Sato, Suzuki Matsuo

Another manga-turns-video game-turns-movie movie, this time based on Noboyuki Fukumoto’s bestseller: KAIJI is the perfect film for gambling-obsessed Japan and turns out to have just the right mixture of zero-to-hero story, fan boy appeal and dark drama to fascinate a large crowd of moviegoers.

Loser Kaiji has to repay a dept and in lack of cash is offered the only way out: to board a cruise ship and take part in the ultimate gambling night that may see him cleared of all dept or spending the rest of his life as slave. Kaiji, whose life sucks anyhow decides to dare all and joins the cruise, not knowing what terrifying rollercoaster ride lies ahead.

Without giving away too much of the twists and turns of KAIJI I can say that the film is quite clever in leading the audience step by step into the next trap by primarily following Kaiji and only scarcely offering some hints about what’s actually going on here. The movie keeps the momentum from beginning to end and despite changes of mood and tone throughout is a gripping tale of winners and losers and the morale that makes even loser winners.

At times KAIJI is leaning too much towards some Nike-Darwinism: winning is everything, participating is nothing. You don’t win silver, you lose gold. But then KAIJI discovers the deeper meaning of winning and presents are more intellectual perspective on its subject. KAIJI nevertheless reflects the Japanese pursuit of success, a way of life that is characterized by hardship and drawbacks, but most of all by a glorious happy end where the winner takes it all. KAIJI, just as gambling, fits the Japanese mentality very well.

KAIJI THE MOVIE would have benefited from spending more time on the character and past of Kaiji though: it is not entirely clear why Kaiji does what he does, the manga was clearly sharper and made Kaiji’s path more plausible. If the movie has a key weakness then that’s the character development of the hero, most of all his indulgence of his own little tricks, more and more he turns into an arrogant jerk, luckily his opponents are worse so we rather stick with him – despite Fujiwara’s overacting.

What makes KAIJI worth watching all issues aside is the way we are dragged through the shit just like the hero without knowing what’s going to happen next, a pretty dark side that is a more commercial variation of BATTLE ROYALE and the sub-genre of rich-people-pay-to-see-you-dying, the fragment of an epic story that creates a parallel universe underground, and one of the greatest fuck yous in a long time (Teruyuki Kagawa is hilarious repeating Kitano’s role as MC and villain).

KAIJI is satisfying diverse expectations of a diverse audience without kissing ass, and it’s probably therapeutic for those gambling away all their money in a pachinko parlor. KAIJI may not be the best of all manga adaptations, nor the best film of its kind, but it’s creative and surprisingly sinister entertainment that well deserves two hours of our time.