Eversky.org A Dose of Asian Pop Culture & Entertainment

11Mar/070

Nobody Knows (2004)

Nobody Knows

Japanese Title: 誰も知らない (Daremo Shiranai)
Genre: Drama, Life, Adolescence, Friendship
Starring: Yagira Yuuya, Kitaura Ayu, Kimura Hiei, Shimizu Momoko, Kan Hanae, You
Screenwriter: Hirokazu Koreeda
Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
MPAA: PG-13

Synopsis
Based on a true story of an incident that happened in Japan in 1988 where a mother left her four children in an apartment for nine months. Mother, Keiko (You), moves in to a new apartment with her four children: the oldest, Akira (Yagira Yuuya), Kyoko (Kitaura Ayu), Shigeru (Kimura Hiei), and the youngest, Yuki (Shimizu Momoko). After having met a new boyfriend, the mother leaves her four children behind in the apartment with 50,000 yen (approx. $500USD). Akira, being the oldest, is left to take care of his three siblings. The four children have to live day by day without their mother in Tokyo.
Source: Eversky.org

Rating: A+ (Masterpiece)
Rewatch Factor: High
Comment: When I first heard of this movie, I thought to myself, "Oh, the poor children..." However, when I watched the movie I was shockingly surprised at the conditions the four children have to live in. The movie moves at a pace that isn't meant to surprised viewers though, but it is meant to inform. No judgments can be made when the viewer is simply the observer. Nobody Knows deals with family and responsibilities, advocating that all children needs to feel wanted and loved. It also deals with sibling love as it shows how Akira takes care of the groceries and financial duties while Kyoko is doing the laundry. Each of them care for their two siblings who are too young to understand the situation. Then, it also deals with adolescence when presenting Akira as a 12-year-old boy who is in the midst of puberty, yet having to carry on the responsibilities of an adult. Nobody Knows is a movie that will bring tears to your eyes and make you realize that there are also children in the world who suffers from the same situation. The facts are direct and in your face; there aren't any beating around the bush. The transformation of the children is apparent, and the transformation of their home is apparent from orderly to a great big mess. I find no flaws in this movie because everything concludes in the ending in a bittersweet, yet realistic way. I recommend this movie to everyone because we can all learn something from this movie: parenthood, responsibilities, life, friendship, and love.

12Jan/070

9 Souls (2003)

9 Souls

Japanese Title: ナインソウルズ (Nain Souruzu)
Genre: Drama, Psychological, Life
Starring: Matsuda Ryuhei, Harada Yoshio, Yamada Mame, Kunimura Jun, Chihara Koji, Itao Itsuji, Kee, and Onimaru
Screenwriter: Toshiaki Toyoda
Director: Toshiaki Toyoda
MPAA: R

Synopsis
Nine prisoners manage to escape from prison in hopes of finding a secret treasure whose location was revealed by the tenth prisoner that was taken away by the prison guards. Together all nine of them, each guilty of different crimes, goes out into the real world. While being careful not to get caught by wearing weird disguises, often dressing in drag, and taking on obscure identities, each of them realize that the journey is more than it seems. Each prisoner has his own dreams and troubles that he escaped from previously, and now that they're back in the real world, they must learn to face every single of them. A journey that's less about the treasure and more about the prisoners making up the loose ends in their life as well as finding that special something to make them whole again.
Source: Eversky.org

Rating: A+ (Masterpiece)
Rewatch Factor: High
Comment: At hearing the words "prison break" one might think that this movie is like The Shawshank Redemption. However, this movie takes on a whole different turn with a not-so-happy yet surreal outcome. This movie is a really awesome movie but it takes patience to watch this movie, especially the first forty minutes. The first forty minutes are very slow-paced and it's very easy for anyone to be frustrated and confused at the amount of lead characters. The first forty minutes of this film is like the opening of an adventure as the director lets the viewer in on each character, what motivates them, what they want from life, and the various details of their crimes. However, there is still that ounce of mystery to every single character because in the end, it's difficult to say whether or not one truly understands them. Despite that, the introduction contains some tiny and necessary details that just adds more to the brilliance of the movie.

After the forty minutes is when this movie really begins and it is when the viewer will truly see the masterpiece unveiling before his or her eyes. It is so easy to be sucked into this movie as one watches as each character tries to make up the loose ends but still couldn't escape from the vast scrutiny that society gives them. From here on do the viewer truly learns why each prisoner decides to escape, whether to see a loved one or to atone for their past sins. It seems the only one that doesn't fit into this circle is Michiru (Matsuda Ryuhei). There are many scenes in this movie that are so surreal, breathtaking, and heartbreaking. That's not to say that this movie is entirely serious. There is a bit of humor in the movie especially when the characters dress in drag and some of the dialogue is very funny. What adds more to this movie is the strong performance by the lead actors and once again, I am impressed with Matsuda Ryuhei's acting once more. Because of Ryuhei's character role, one who rarely speaks and rarely does anything, he fades into the background easily, but once it is his time to shine, he changes from a typical wall flower to a different man altogether. To sum it up, this movie combines surrealism, psychology, and human struggles all in one masterpiece. If you are expecting kick-ass action from this film, you will be disappointed. Instead of action, this film takes a pyschological approach on what makes a person simply a person. Anyone and everyone need to see this film, and not just once either.

12Jan/070

Fly, Daddy, Fly (2006)

Fly Daddy Fly

Korean Title: 플라이 대디 (Peul-lai Dae-di)
Genre: Drama, Family, Life
Starring: Lee Moon Shik, Lee Jun Ki, Poppin Hyeon Joon, Lee Yeon Soo, Kim So Eun
Screenwriter: Choi Jong-Tae
Director: Choi Jong-Tae
MPAA: PG-13

Synopsis
An ordinary businessman in his forties, Jang Ga Pil (Lee Moon Shik) returns home one day to find his daughter sexually molested by high school boxing star, Kang Tae Wook. Realizing that he has neither the money nor the background, Ga Pil couldn't stand up for his daughter like he said he would. With his father-daughter ties being threatened, he realizes that he must do something. He finally resorts to appear at Tae Wook's high school in an attempt to stab the guy but instead encounters another student, Go Seung Suk. Seung Suk agrees to teach Ga Pil how to box so that Ga Pil can teach Tae Wook a lesson and earn back his dignity as a father.
Source: iHeartJunKi.com

Rating: A- (Great)
Rewatch Factor: Medium
Comment: At first this sounds like a typical hero story where an unlikely guy goes to prove himself and probably ends up victorious in the end. The bad side is that it is just that kind of movie. The good side is that it has other elements that seperates it from other movies of similar genre. There are rarely any movies that portray a father-daughter relationship where a father is willing to risk his life to protect his daughter in such extreme ways. This movie has it and that's one of its key points. This movie does at a great job at emphasizing that Ga Pil used to be the average man working in an average company and loves his family very much. He doesn't deserve to come home one day finding out that his daughter was beat up by a bunch of punks. He doesn't know what to do especially when it's obvious that the punk's family is higher in status than him. Lee Moon Shik does a great job at portraying this father role. I could seriously feel his frustration at his own failure to protect his only daughter. Not only that, but Ga Pil's relationship with Seung Suk is like friends or even like a father and son. Seung Suk teaches Ga Pil to fight so that Ga Pil can regain his confidence and dignity. Seung Suk's past is revealed in the middle of the movie and that is one powerful and emotional scene. I think that Lee Jun Ki does a fantastic job at portraying Seung Suk, a mysterious adolescent with a painful and traumatizing past. One of the movie's highlights is the acting by these two main leads. It's true that the basic plot isn't anything original but it's the elements and other details that sets this movie apart from the rest. This movie is very enjoyable and a person doesn't really have to think much when watching it. It's a great movie that anyone can watch with their friends and family.

28Dec/060

Blue Spring (2001)

Blue Spring

Japanese Title: 青い春 (Aoi Haru)
Genre: Drama, Adolescence, Life
Starring: Matsuda Ryuhei, Arai Hirofumi, Takaoka Sosuke
Screenwriters: Toshiaki Toyada and Taiyo Matsumoto
Director: Toshiaki Toyada
MPAA: R

Synopsis
A generic boys' high school, Japan. It's a rough area. The school building is particularly run down – there's graffiti all over the walls, the building is falling to bits. Local yakuza cruise round trying to recruit boys who have proved themselves tough. The school tries hard to protect its image – the baseball team has moments of success – but basically once there, it's hell, and there's little way out. To try to kill the boredom, the boys have developed an entertaining, if rather lethal, power game to determine who becomes the boss. To their surprise, Kujo (Matsuda Ryuhei) manages to win at this game and becomes the new boss reigning supreme over the rest of the students. However, as graduation draws near and choices need to be made, problems start to arise. Kujo becomes disinterested in his role as boss of the school and his detachment causes his closest friend, Aoki, to finally snap and rebel.

Rating: A (Excellent)
Rewatch Factor: Medium
Comment: Japanese students sure have it tough when it comes to their high school years and this movie sure emphasize that issue. However, unlike other movies in similar genre like Battle Royale or Suicide Circle, this movie is more character-driven, examining the struggles of adolescent, high school boys. The movie itself is rather slow-paced, typical of a Japanese movie, but there are powerful scenes to keep the viewers interested. Matsuda Ryuhei's performance as Kujo is a plus--silent and detached, yet still very deadly and violent. The violence in this movie is rather gruesome sometimes but it isn't surprising at all. What I love best about this movie is its ability portray the different types of struggles the students have to face with when graduation is near. The only flaws I can find in this movie is that there are sketchy areas sometimes because some scenes aren't made very clear unless it's watched over again. Nevertheless, the movie reaches a very climatic and tragic ending but it fits so well with the nature of this movie. There aren't any miracles in this movie. There isn't an Onizuka from GTO or a Yankumi from Gokusen to guide these students through their most crucial time in high school. There's only reality. I really do recommend this movie to people who wants to watch a movie about life and adolescence without the sugar and fluff.