Yakuza Apocalypse: The Great War of the Underworld was at many of last year’s international film festivals and it has finally made its way to Britain via the UK anime distributor Manga Entertainment. It starts its cinema run from January 06th and it will be screened at various cinemas across the country. To see if your cinema is going to play it and to book tickets, check the film’s UK website.
Fires on the Plain
Duration: 87 mins.
Director: Shinya Tsukamoto
Writer: Shinya Tsukamoto (Screenplay), Shohei Ooka (Original Novel)
Cast: Shinya Tsukamoto, Lily Franky, Tatsuya Nakamura, Yuko Nakamura, Dean Newcombe, Yusaku Mori,
War is hell, as the saying goes, and no more so is that better demonstrated than in Fires on the Plain, a harrowing and horrifying story about a Japanese soldier’s efforts to survive the fall of the Philippines in the final days of the Second World War. From the first scene to the last it serves up a series of hellish vignettes of one man’s struggle against increasingly desperate odds, his plight made visceral and powerful by the director’s passion and experience.
As the Gods Will
Romaji: Kami-sama no Iutoori
Release Date: November 15th, 2014 (Japan)
Running Time: 117 mins.
Director: Takashi Miike
Writer: Hiroyuki Yatsu (Screenplay), Muneyuki Kaneshiro, Akeji Fujimura (Original Manga)
Starring: Sota Fukushi, Hirona Yamazaki, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Mio Yuki, Shota Sometani, Nao Omori, Lily Franky
As the Gods Will is the big-budget adaptation of a horror-survival manga series written by Muneyuki Kaneshiro and illustrated by Akeji Fujimura. I picked up on it at the end of last year because it looked great and was directed by Takashi Miike who has gone back to his V-cinema horror/action roots as of late. The DVD/blu-ray was released at the end of May and I’m happy to report that this film doesn’t disappoint fans of Miike. The film is a star-studded affair with talented actors like Ryunosuke Kamiki, Shota Sometani, Lily Franky being led by Sota Fukushi in a tale about a bored schoolboy who wants a bit of excitement in his life and gets more than he bargained for.
Japanese Title: 凶悪
Release Date: September 21st, 2013
Running Time: 128 mins.
Director: Kazuya Shiraishi
Writer: Kazuya Shiraishi, Izumi Takahashi (Screenplay),
Starring: Takayuki Yamada, Pierre Taki, Lily Franky, Chizuru Ikewaki, Kazuko Shirakawa, Yu Saito, Nozomi Muraoka
The events depicted in The Devil’s Path detail a series of shocking crimes that occurred in a mundane town in Japan. Thugs targeted isolated elderly people or each other to extort for money, often using violence. The police missed the seriousness of the situation due to the surrounding circumstances of the victims. It was not until a journalist at the Shincho45 editorial department made these crimes public in the nonfiction novel “Kyoaku-Aru Shikeishuu no Kokuhatsu” that the police arrested the culprits.
Japanese Title: ジャッジ！
Running Time: 105 mins.
Release Date: January 11th, 2014
Director: Akira Nagai
Writer: Yoshimitsu Sawamoto (Screenplay)
Starring: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Keiko Kitagawa, Lily Franky,
KyokaSuzuki, YosiYosi Arakawa, Yoji Tanaka, Denden, Ryo Kase, Etsushi Toyokawa, Iyo Matsumoto,
What I am about to say is very important…
The final film I saw at the Terracotta Far East Film Festival 2014 was the international premiere of Judge! and it was a fantastic way to finish the event. Akira Nagai flew in to introduce the film and even took the time to talk to me.
Taking a break from an award-winning career in a Tokyo-based advertising company, director Akira Nagai makes his feature film debut with the 2014 comedy Judge! Both Akira Nagai and writer Yoshimitsu Sawamoto have careers in advertising which they both draw on to make a sleek, light-hearted, and hilarious satire on the international ad industry which made me roar with laughter.
Japanese Title: そして父になる
Romaji: Soshite Chichi ni Naru
Release Date: September 28th. 2013 (Japan)
Seen at the BFI London Film Festival 2013
Running Time: 120 mins.
Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
Writer: Hirokazu Koreeda (Screenplay)
Starring: Masaharu Fukuyama, Machiko Ono, Yoko Maki, Jun Fubuki, Keita Ninomiya, Shogen Hwang, Lily Franky, Jun Kunimura, Kiki Kirin, Isao Natsuyagi
The Nonomiya family are happy. Ryota (Fukuyama) is a stern and demanding father and a successful architect dedicated to his work while his loyal wife Midori (Ono) dotes on their adorably cute six-year-old son Keita (Nonomiya). The three live quietly and comfortably in a luxurious apartment. Although Keita seems to lack his father’s qualities of determination and ruthlessness, he is a studious, quiet and loyal son who idolises his father and tries to emulate him. With Keita about to enter Ryota’s old school, life seems to be going according to plan.
Then Midori receives a phone call from the hospital where she gave birth to Keita six years ago informing her that their child was switched with another male baby and that their birth-son is with another set of parents. This news shatters the Ninomiya’s certainties and the hospital insists that both sets of parents meet.
Enter the Saiki family led by confident hard-working mother Yukari (Maki) and scatter-brained father Yudai (Franky). They are the polar-opposites of the Ninomiyas, Yudai runs a down at heel electronics store while Yukari works at a fast food parlour. Working class but still decent folk, their parenting style is more laid back than the Ninomiya’s which has produced three uninhibited children who are ebullient and fizzing with energy. This is who Ryota and Midori’s birth-son is with. Given the name Ryusei (Hwang), he is the eldest of three children and is the complete opposite of Keita, outgoing and tougher, he is a rough but good-natured child.
At the hospital’s insistence the parents’ initiate a twelve-month period where they get to know each other and try exchanging boys. Keita seems to take to the Saiki family easily but Ryusei’s brash temperament clashes with Ryota’s strict attitudes. Now both couples face a difficult decision over whether to hand over their sons who they have carefully raised for the last six years and take back their biological son or not.