Category: Japan

Crying out love in the centre of the world - TV drama

Crying out love in the centre of the worldCrying out love in the centre of the world

Japanese 2004
Director: Isao Yukisada

My rating: 5
Key actors/actresses:
Takao Osawa ... Sakutaro Matsumoto
Kou Shibasaki ... Ritsuko Fujimura
Masami Nagasawa ... Aki Hirose
Mirai Moriyama ... Sakutaro Matsumoto (High School)
Tsutomu Yamazaki ... Shigezou Matsumoto
Kankur? Kud? ... Ryunosuke Ooki
Kanji Tsuda ... Johnny
Issei Takahashi ... Ryunosuke (high school student)
Rio Kanno ... Ritsuko (girl)
Tetta Sugimoto ... Aki's Father
Katsutaka Furuhata ... Johnny (high school)

Story:
"I thought I might be using a lifetime's happiness in a moment. I was that happy and she was that beautiful."

In 1987, a beautiful story about two 17-year old classmates, Aki and Saku who fell in love during one summer and how they soon realized Aki has leukemia and died during Autumn of the same year.

17 years later, Saku has not forgotten Aki for a single moment, he still carries her ashes with him, he re-tell their story to a woman that he loves today on how he and Aki met and spent time together until Aki's final moment and her dying wish was to see the blue sky of a place in Central Australia where the aboriginals believe to be the centre of the world and people who rest there after they die, their spirit will flow from there into another world and be reborn.

My review:
Simply a beautiful story, I love this TV-drama and the adapted version of the movie both based on the same best-selling book of the same name "Sekai no Chuushin de, Ai wo Sakebu". A pure romantic love that happens during teenage years with a sad ending of death of incurable diseases, though the idea is not new, this story will still touch your heart.

Stranger of mine

Stranger of mine
Type: Drama, Comedy, Japan 2005

Director: Kenji Uchida

My rating: 4
Key actors/actresses:
Yasuhi Nakamura .... Takeshi Miyata
Reika Kirishima .... Maki Kuwata
S? Yamanaka .... Yusuke Kanda
Yuka Itaya .... Ayumi Kurata
Kisuke Yamashita .... Asai

Posted by Dominic
Story:
Faith has brought a self-pity woman who just decided to leave her fiance, a salary-man who still misses the woman that dumped him 6 months ago, a private detective, a con woman and the gangster leader together, though they don't know it themselves. Their story intertwine and it all happens in one strange evening. As the story unfolds, you will know things are never as simple as they look.

My review:
Very clever plot and the story is being told backward, as we go back in time, the dots are connected. This reminds me so much of "Momento", though completely different story. Highly entertaining!

Zatoichi

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Zatoichi /Sonatine Double Bill (buy from Amazon)

Type: Drama Thriller, Japan 2003

Director: Takeshi Kitano

My rating: 4

Key actors/actresses:
Takeshi Kitano .... Zatoichi/Ichi (as Beat Takeshi)
Tadanobu Asano .... Hattori Genosuke
Michiyo Ookusu .... Aunt O-Ume
Gadarukanaru Taka .... Shinkichi

Posted by Dominic
Story:
Zatoichi is a blind swordsman who earns his living by giving massages and gambling. In this movie, Zatoichi is up against a gang which runs the town and has a very able swordsman in the gang. Zatoichi is helping a brother and sister whose parents were killed by the gangsters many years ago.

My review:
Very good performance by Takeshi as you would expect. The blind swordsman is a very well known story in Japan, this is yet another blind swordsman story played by a fine actor.

Trick

Type: Comedy Drama Suspense, Japan 2000

Director: K?ji Makita

My rating: 3
Key actors/actresses:
Yukie Nakama .... Naoko Yamada
Hiroshi Abe .... Jiro Ueda
Katsuhisa Namase .... Kenz? Yabe

Posted by Dominic
Story:
Yukie is a bad magician, no one watches her show. Her father was a magician too. One day she was asked by a couple from a very strange village to go to their village and pretend to be god. She is so down and out of luck that she decided to take this assignment. Her friend Hiroshi who is a professor who is also going to the same village trying to unearth some hidden treasure. The villagers believe that the village is cursed and every 300 years there will be a big disaster and this is the year. Yukie and Hiroshi are going to meet with some strange people, some of the them like Yukie are here to pretend that they are god...

My review:
A funny black comedy, quite entertaining. There is a TV drama of the same name. This is the movie edition.

Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo

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Zatoichi 20 - Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo (buy from Amazon)

Type: Drama, Japan 1970

Director: Kihachi Okamoto

My rating: 4

Key actors/actresses:
Shintar� Katsu .... Zatoichi
Toshiro Mifune .... Yojimbo
Ayako Wakao .... Umeno
Osamu Takizawa .... Yasuke Eboshiya
Masakane Yonekura .... Boss Masagoro (as Sakatoshi Masakane)

Story:
Zatoichi, a blind but very skilled swordsman, is tired of killing and drifting from places to places. He returns to a place that he visited 3 years ago, he remembers it as a nice and quiet town. Not anymore, the town has been occupied by gangsters and the secret police also has their eyes on this town to search for gold. The gangsters want to send their Yojimbo to deal with Zatoichi.

My review:
Two of the most famous swordsmen in Japanese movies, Yojimbo and Zatoichi played also by the 2 most appropriate actors, all in one movie. One of the reasons that the Zatoichi series is so attractive is that a seemingly handicapped person is so powerful that he possesses the ability to right the wrongs and the baddies are always punished.

Jam Films (7 short movies)


Type: Comedy Drama Romantic SciFi Suspense, Japan 2002

Director: See below

My rating: 5

Key actors/actresses:
Directors: Daizaburo Hanada ("Opening"), J么ji Iida ("Cold Sleep"), Shunji Iwai ("Arita"), Ryuhei Kitamura ("The Messenger - Requiem for the Dead"), Rokuro Mochizuki ("Pandora - Hong Kong Leg"), Tetsuo Shinohara ("Kendama"), Yukihiko Tsutsumi ("Hijiki"), Isao Yukisada ("Justice")

Natsuko Akiyama .... ("Hijiki")
Kuranosuke Sasaki .... ("Hijiki")
Megumi Takahashi .... ('Hijiki')
Megumi Uziie .... ('Hijiki' & 'Kendama')
Masayoshi Yamazaki .... ("Kendama")
Ryoko Shinohara .... ("Kendama")
Hirofumi Arai .... ('Justice')
Haruka Ayase .... ("Justice")
Hitomi Kurihara .... ('Justice')
Akifumi Miura .... ('Justice')
Christian Storms .... ('Justice')
Satoshi Tsumabuki .... ("Justice"
Ryoko Hirosue .... ("Arita")
Kazuki Kitamura .... ("The Messenger - Requiem for the Dead")
Tak Sakaguchi .... ('The Messenger - Requiem for the Dead')
Kanae Uotani .... The messenger ('The Messenger - Requiem for the Dead')
Akaji Maro .... ("Pandora - Hong Kong Leg")
Takami Yoshimoto .... ("Pandora - Hong Kong Leg")Takao Osawa .... ("Cold Sleep")
Samuel Pop .... ('Cold Sleep')
Albert Smith .... ('Cold Sleep')
Tomomi Tsunoda .... ("Cold Sleep")
Yasutaka Tsutsui .... ('Cold Sleep')

Posted by Dominic
Story:
7 stories by 7 different directors, comedy, suspense, sci-fi, romantic, you name it. Quite fun to watch 7 short pieces.

My review:
Quite fun to watch 7 short pieces. All nicely made, since each has only about 15 mins, they have to impress the audience pretty much from the beginning. I won't spoiled you with the details of the storyline.

The hidden blade

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The Hidden Blade (buy from Amazon)

Type: Drama, Japan 2004

Director: Yoji Yamada

My rating: 4

Key actors/actresses:
Masatoshi Nagase
Takako Matsu
Hidetaka Yoshioka
Yukiyoshi Ozawa

Posted by Dominic
Story:
At the end of the Edo era, a kind hearted samurai called Munezo was living in a rapidly changing time where Japan was full of corrupted warloads and the Western world was starting to influence Japan. Munezo was a highly skilled swordsman who had not killed a single person and he was forced to confront his friend, a fellow student under the same sword master, his friend had turned into a rebel. He became very tired of the injustice in the system...

My review:
Very well filmed with the finest actors. It brings out the emotion of the character very well, Munezo's kind, warm character and his love and affection towards the housemaid Kei, his reluctant to fight his old friend and in the end he decides to take justice in his own way. Not a typical samurai with blind obedient towards the warload master.

I like the fighting scene between Munezo and his friend, so reluctant yet inevitable, he was so unsure of his new trick that he recently learnt from his sword master just for this fight, his heart was full of contradiction. I also like the relationship development between Munezo and Kie, though predictable. Was Munezo a good samurai? Probably not.

Crying out love in the centre of the world 在世界中心呼喚愛

Image from AmazonImage from Amazon
Crying out of Love in the Centre of the World (buy from Amazon)

Type: Drama Romantic, Japan 2004

Director: Isao Tukisada 行定勲

My rating: 5

Key actors/actresses:
Sakutaro(Today) 朔太郎...Takao Osawa 大澤隆夫
Ritsuko 律子...Kou Shibasaki 柴崎幸
Sakutaro(High school) 朔太郎...Tsutomu Yamazki 森山未來
Aki 廣瀨亞紀...Masami Nagasawa長澤正美

Story:
Sakutaro is getting married soon, one day his fiancee Ritsuko found a long lost tape that she was supposed to have given to Sakutaro 17 years ago, it is the last recording of Sakutaro's first love at high school - Aki who died 17 years ago of leukemia (blood cancer). Sakutaro has never been able to forget her but simply trying to bury his feeling. Ritsuko goes back to the home town and independently Sakutaro is doing the same, he returns to his home and went through all the tapes that he and Aki recorded for each other and their story is re-told once again.

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The Returner

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Returner (buy from Amazon)

Type: SciFi, Japan 2002

Director: Takashi Yamazaki

My rating: 3
Key actors/actresses:
Takeshi Kaneshiro .... Miyamoto
Anne Suzuki .... Milly
Kirin Kiki .... Xie
Goro Kishitani .... Mizoguchi
Yukiko Okamoto .... Dr. Yagi

Story:
A young girl came from the future to present time, human race at her time was almost wipped out by aliens. Her task is to stop the first incident of alien encounter and the chain of reaction that happened there after. Would she succeed?

My review:
Pretty entertaining, this is the Japanese's answer to ET, independence day, time travel and else. Quite entertaining, nevermind about the logic of the movie,just enjoy the story.

The tale of the unusual

Type: Comedy Drama Horror SciFi, Japan 2000

Director: Mamoru Hosi, Masayuki Ochiai, Hisao Ogura, Masayuki Suzuki

My rating: 4

Key actors/actresses:
Kazuyuki Aijima .... Manabe (segment: One Snowy Night)/Salaryman (segment: The Storyteller)
Izumi Inamori .... Chiharu Takajo (segment: The Marriage Simulator)
Renji Ishibashi .... Old Man (segment: Chess)
Takashi Kashiwabara .... Yuichi Tokunagi (segment: The Marriage Simulator)
Narumi Kayashima .... (segment: The Marriage Simulator)
Masahiro Komoto .... Seiichi Tomoda (segment: Chess)
Kiichi Nakai .... (segment: Samurai Cellular)
Yukiko Okamoto .... Kumi Kato (segment: Chess)
Megumi Okina .... Karu (segment: Samurai Cellular)
Ren Osugi .... Yoshiaki Yamauchi (segment: One Snowy Night)
Kazuma Suzuki .... Takuro Yuki (segment: One Snowy Night)
Saya Takagi .... (segment: The Marriage Simulator)

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