Last of the Wolves 孤狼の血 LEVEL2 Director: Kazuya Shiraishi (2021) [New York Asian Film Festival 2021]

Last of the Wolves   Last of the Wolves Film Poster

孤狼の血 LEVEL2   Korou no Chi Level 2

Release Date: August 20th 2021

Duration: 139 mins.

Director: Kazuya Shiraishi

Writer: Junya Ikegami (Script), Yuko Yuzuki (Original Novel)

Starring: Tori Matsuzaka, Ryohei Suzuki, Nijiro Murakami, Nanase Nishino, Taichi Saotome, Takumi Saito, Kotaro Yoshida, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Miwako Kakei, Susumu Terajima, Hiroki Miyake,

Website IMDB

The Last of the Wolves is director Kazuya Shiraishi’s sequel to Blood of the Wolves, his well-received 2018 yakuza film. With his latest work, he returns to the crime world of Yuko Yuzuki’s novel trilogy but only going as far as taking key elements and characters as scriptwriter Junya Ikegami concocts a brand new story that provides thrills and spills perfect for a gangster film.

Set three years after the bloody climax of The Blood of Wolves, detective Shuichi Hioka (Tori Matsuzaka) has stepped up into his former partner’s position to implement a plan to control the local yakuza and prevent further gang wars in Kurehara and Hiroshima. This delicate balance of power is upset by a vicious gangster named Uebayashi (Ryohei Suzuki) who is back on the streets following time in the infamous Abashiri Prison. He is looking to avenge a gang boss slain in the previous film and that sets him on a collision course with Hioka. Along the way, many people will get hurt.

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The Blood of Wolves 孤狼の血 Dir: Kazuya Shiraishi (2018)

The Blood of Wolves      The Blood of Wolves Film Poster

孤狼の血 Korou no chi

Running Time: 126 mins.

Release Date: May 12th, 2018

Director: Kazuya Shiraishi

Writer: Junya Ikegami (Screenplay), Yuko Yuzuki (Original Novel)

Starring: Koji Yakusho, Tori Matsuzaka, Yoko Maki, Tomoya Nakamura, Pierre Taki, Shido Nakamura, Yosuke Eguchi, Renji Ishibashi,

Website IMDB

Director Kazuya Shiraishi follows his Roman Porno, Dawn of the Felines with this blistering film.

Hiroshima is a prefecture with lots of natural beauty but filmmakers do like to find drama in the dark underbelly of the place, perhaps most famously with Kinji Fukasaku’s 1970s crime film series Battles without Honour and Humanity which was based on the experiences of a post-war yakuza boss from Hiroshima. Kazuya Shiraishi takes audiences into the same world with The Blood of Wolves, a film which feels like a throwback to an earlier time due to its raw violence, emotions, and the character archetypes in play. Shiraishi is no stranger to the crime genre thanks to his previous films The Devil’s Path (2013) and Twisted Justice (2016) but this is his best crime film yet and it is all down to a magnetic performance from lead actor Koji Yakusho and his character’s no-holds barred attitude to policing.

The Blood of Wolves Film Image 6

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Love for Beginners, Chasing Santa Clause, MIS: Human Secret Weapon Trailer and the Japanese Movie Box Office Chart

Skyfall Character BannerLast week I was so busy trying to get a post out so I could attend an anime festival I posted the wrong trailer (Love for Beginners) and missed out the one I had originally intended to post (Inazuma Eleven). I apologise. すみません!This week I was back in work and so I skipped posting anything on Monday so I could concentrate on re-establishing a writing routine because I have a lot of reviews coming up as part of my Genki Christmas season which kicks off on Monday. The week did see some reviews. On Sunday I posted my thoughts on Skyfall (which I found to be awesome) before sitting down for some Chinese food and watching Insidious at home.

What does the Japanese film chart look like this week?

  1. Skyfall
  2. Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo
  3. Inazuma Eleven The Movie 2012
  4. Lesson of the Evil
  5. The Floating Castle
  6. Ninkyo Helper: Beautiful World.
  7. A Chorus of Angels
  8. Tug of War
  9. Trouble with the Curve
  10. Crow’s Thumb
  11. Smile Precure!
  12. Lockout
  13. Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away
  14. The Woman in Black

Skyfall is at the top spot after its release last week. The latest new Japanese film in the top ten movie box office chart is Inazuma Eleven at two. The Woman in Black was also released and it is at fourteen. The latest Evangelion movie drops down to two and Takashi Miike’s latest film is at four. That’s a strong top ten.

 

What are the most interesting Japanese films released this week?

 

Love for Beginners                                                 Love fo Beginners

Japanese Title: 今日¥、 恋 を はじめます

Romaji: Kyou, Koi wo Hajimemasu

Release Date:  08th December 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: N/A

Director: Takeshi Furusawa

Writer:  Kanan Minami (Original Manga)

Starring: Emi Takei, Tori Matsuzaka, Rin Takanashi, Fumino Kimura, Sho Aoyagi, Kento Yamazaki, Yua Shinkawa, Erina Dawkins, Reiko Fujiwara, Saki Takaoka, Ayane Sakai, Hiroaki Murakami, Yumi Asou, Hatsunori Hasegawa,

In an example of my ability to be lackdaisical I posted this a trailer a week early. Apologies. Love for Beginners is released today and it stars Emi Takei, who was one of the brilliant stand-out stars of For Love’s Sake, joins forces with an awesome cast of bright young things including Rin Takanashi (Goth: Love of DeathIsn’t Anyone Alive?), Reiko Fujiwara (About the Pink Sky), Kento Yamazaki (Control TowerAnother),  Tori Matsuzaka (The Wings of the Kirin) in an adaptation of Kanan Minami’s popular manga. The film is directed by Takeshi Furusawa who sounds familiar… assistant director to Kiyoshi Kurosawa on Pulse… That’s right! He directed Ghost Train and the recent live-action adaptation of Another! What the heck is he doing here and not on a J-horror? Earning a living, I suppose. Anyway, this is one of those silly films where an extremely beautiful girl dons glasses and everybody considers her plain. Unless everybody else at the school is fantastically beautiful. I have never read the manga. I’m also very unlikely to see the film. The soundtrack has hits by Perfume and Scandal.

Tsubaki Hibino (Takei) is a talented hair stylist with low self-esteem and a taste for old-fashioned clothes. Her fashion sense is the trigger for popular playboy male student Kyota Tsubaki (Matsuzaka) to tease her but then… they fall in love with each other. They will have to overcome his commitment issues first.

MIS: Human Secret Weapon                         MIS Poster

Japanese Title: 二つ の 祖国

Romaji: Futatsu no Sokoku

Release Date:  08th December 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 93 mins.

Director: Junichi Suzuki

Writer:  N/A

Starring: N/A

Junichi Suzuki has made a career out of charting the fortunes of Japanese-Americans who signed up for the US armed forces after Pearl Harbour. His previous film, 442: Live with Honor, Die with Dignits followed the 442nd Regimental Combat Team who fought in Europe. MIS: Human Secret Weapon documents the experiences of nearly 80 Japanese-Americans who speak about their wartime experiences including a soldier who found himself fighting against former class-mates and another soldier who witnessed the surrender of Japan and the aftermath of Hiroshima. This film is getting a limited screening at the Ginza Cine Pathos alongside Suzuki’s other wartime documentaries. Here’s the trailer which looks fascinating.

Chasing Santa Clause                                                      Chasing Santa Clause Poster

Japanese Title: サンタ クロース つかまえて

Romaji: Santa Kuro-su wo Tsukamaete

Release Date:  08th December 2012 (Japan)

Running Time: 80 mins.

Director: Hiroki Iwabuchi

Writer:  N/A

Starring: N/A

This documentary charting the recovery of Sendai from the March 11th Earthquake and Tsunami is a personal work from documentarian Hiroki Iwabuchi since he hails from the city. It features footage shot just after the disaster and survivor accounts including Iwabuchi’s own mother! Why chasing Santa Clause for a title Well the title refers to an annual parade full of Santa’s and lights and Christmas magic and how Sendai managed to hold that parade even after being hit by the disaster.