the fictional capital "Teito" where the aristocrats
continue to thrive since the 19th Century, there are rumours
about a mysterious thief, who only steals from the rich and
aids the poor. People call him K-20, (The Phantom Thief with
20 faces). Heikichi, a circus acrobat was conned and mistaken
as K-20 and subsequently arrested by Akechi Kogoro, a famous
detective who once arrested K-20 himself. In the midst of
clearing his name, Heikichi rescued Yoko Hashiba, the Duchess,
Detective Akechi’s betrothed fiancée. In the
non-stop battle with K-20, the true identity of the thief
may finally be revealed!
After his brief stint as the Grim Reaper
in Accuracy of Death and the wise advisor Zhuge Liang in the
Red Cliff series, Takeshi Kaneshiro is back in his adopted
hometown for K-20: Legend of the Mask.
Based on a novel by So Kitamura, K-20 is
set in a fictional city called Teito in Tokyo where World
War II has never happened and the citizens of Japan have been
divided into the upper class and lower class. The rich strive
and prosper while the poor has to contend with poverty and
hunger. It is then widely believed by the locals that a phantom
thief nicknamed K-20 (in short for the number of times he
can changed his face) prowl the city to steal from the rich
and distribute to the poor.
Just when you thought K-20 is just an Asian
rehashed of Robin Hood or Mask of Zorro, the script by director
and writer Shimako Sato tries to be a little smarter than
the aforementioned, a little complicated and a little humorous.
Asia’s favourite Japanese/Chinese heritage movie star
Takeshi Kaneshiro plays Heikichi Endo, a small-time but talented
circus acrobat who is tricked by the real K-20 to be the scapegoat.
That’s where things get a bit complicated as to who
the real culprit is and gets funnier when an aristocrat princess
Yoko (Matsu Takako from Hero) joins hands with Heikichi to
uncover the truth. And why it’s smarter because the
plot involved something bigger than the typical small-time
biggest problem with K-20 is the immensely leisure pacing,
that is for a crime thriller. There isn’t much excitement
for the entire 137 minutes running time to speak of or populated
with much suspicious lurking characters where viewers can
play detective. In other words, the script fails to be effectively
engaging. Any season movie-goers can spot who the 'real' K-20
is within minutes. Once the prologue and characters are setup,
the script throws in a couple of giggling bits and spends
a great deal of time on Heikichi with his sidekick who specializes
in gadgets and his newfound romance, Yoko.
The lackluster script aside, K-20 actually
boasts a decent array of visual effects, lush set designs
and on location shooting at the popular Shanghai streets backlot
(make popular by Perhaps Love and Lust Caution). Accompanied
by an astounding score to sooth your ears, the production
levels are almost flawless.
Fans of Takeshi Kaneshiro will not be disappointed
as the suave star dominates the screen easily with his charismatic
screen presence. With his floppy wind-swaying long hair, fans
will no doubt be mesmerized. Veteran actress Matsu Takako
is reduced to a fleeting love interest while Toru Nakamura
(2009: Lost Memories) is unfortunately sidelined given his
role has by far the most potential to develop further.
then when you have Takeshi Kaneshiro as the acrobatically
inclined masked hero, nothing could overshadow his star power.
K-20 is strictly a tailor-made star vehicle for Takeshi, powered
and run on his charisma and good looks.
3 DVD comes only with the movie trailer and a photo gallery.
The DVD comes with only a Dolby Digital 2.0
soundtrack which dampens the viewing pleasure a little though
the visual is of utmost clarity.
Review by Linus Tee
Posted on 7 July 2009