A major earthquake causes the most devastating force of nature ever recorded in the history to strike Tokyo. First, a hailstorm strikes Ginza, and hail the size of golf balls fall onto the shopping crowd. Then an incredible tidal wave engulfs Tokyo’s waterfront.
Yuji Shinohara (Hideaki Ito) is on his way to Ginza to meet his wife Yumi (Sachiko Sakurai) and their deaf daughter Shiori (Ayane Omori) when the disasters happen. In the ensuing panic, Shiori is separated from Yumi. Yuji manages to find her but find themselves trapped underground together with another 3 survivors.
The Tokyo Fire Department dispatches its elite rescue unit, Hyper Rescue, to save the survivors. In the face of death, a daring rescue operation is to be carried out within an 18-minute calm while they are in the eye of the storm. Will they succeed and bring all 5 survivors back safely?
The land of the rising sun is a fascinating place to be. Over the decades, the country is protected ironically by a giant mutant monster dubbed Godzilla while a certain wide-eye superhero Ultraman serve as their protector when attacked by sinister aliens and creatures.
But who do the locals turn to when the most of Tokyo central is hit by a tidal wave? Their country’s elite rescue team of course.
Hideaki Ito (Umizaru series) plays Yuji, an ex-rescue team member who is trapped underground with his hearing-impaired daughter, Shiori when an earthquake triggered tidal wave hit Tokyo. Together with 3 other survivors, a bar hostess, a salesman and a medical trainee, they must find a way to get hold of the rescue unit’s attention before the ground caves in on them.
If you watched most of Hollywood’s disaster movies such as The Day After Tomorrow and Deep Impact or even Japan’s very own export The Sinking of Japan, you know the drill. Disaster strike, men trapped, the relevant authorities ponder on the rescue tactics, victims struggled to stay unite and calm and do I need to elaborate the rest of the details?
Without giving away further details, 252 Signal of Life relies hugely on the same recycled formula resorting to almost zilch surprises. The only way the filmmakers can come up with in the end to desperately hold the audience’s attention in this overrun movie is to rely on the little child actress to milk tears out of the perhaps females’ tear ducts. Her will to live and her fate to survive while millions died are truly remarkable.
Of course, I might sound like a mean male chauvinist but 252 Signal of Life is populated with too many laughable coincidences and dramatic moments that rival a typical 20 episodes MediaCorp or TVB drama serial. Sample this: when the little girl rushes finally to her mother’s side after being rescued, the movie pauses to a slow-mo mode, cue in the heartfelt score and yes I do feel a bit emotionally stirred. To utilize this trick again over a short span of 30 minutes, I doubt I can take much of this.
As much as the visual and physical effects in the beginning deserve some credit at least, I can’t say the same for the rest of the movie. It offers no surprises but induces unwanted laughter, this is one movie that really requires you to suspend your belief. Roland Emmerich has a strong competitor here.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
This Code 3 DVD comes with an Interview session with the actors and snippets from the movie gala premiere where the cast turns up in a fire engine. A Trailer rounds up the disc.
The Japanese Dolby Digital/DTS 5.1 audio is fantastic with strong ambient sound effects and powerful bass heard during the action sequences. The Mandarin dubbed dialog track is equally effective as well. Visual is clear and rich on the whole with the exception of some scenes which look a tad grainy.
by Linus Tee
Posted on 15 June 2009