Director: Yasuharu Ishii
Cast: Mao Inoue, Jun Matsumoto, Shun Oguri,
Shota Matsuda, Tsuyoshi Abe
RunTime: 2 hrs 21 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films & InnoForm
Official Website: http://www.hanadan-final.jp/
Opening Day: 4 September 2008
"Super poor" Tsukushi Makino, finds herself attending
the prestigious Eitoku High School and immersed in a world
that is not her own. But she eventually falls in with a legendary
foursome of ultra-privileged boys dubbed "F4" (for
"Flower 4"). They consist of Tsukasa Domyoji, Rui
Hanazawa, Sojiro Nishikado and Akira Mimasaka.
was initially in love with Rui, however, F4 leader Tsukasa
soon wins her heart and proposed to her during the senior
prom. After graduation, Tsukasa announced to the world that
he is marrying Tsukushi. Tsukasa and Tsukushi are entrusted
with a precious Domyoji family heirloom; a tiara “The
Smile of Venus”. The gift is from Tsukasa's mother,
who once was against their marriage.
the night, a robber breaks into their room and disappears
with the tiara. Losing the tiara ultimately means losing Tsukushi.
Tsukasa must put marriage plans on hold until he can recover
the heirloom. The trail to recover the tiara believed to bring
its owner everlasting love and happiness takes Tsukushi and
Tsukasa halfway around the world and back, to Las Vegas, Hong
Kong and other far-flung destinations. And what about the
rest of the F4 gang, who have seemingly gone their own ways
since high school?
Going into Hana Yori Dango: Final, you will belong to either
one of two camps. Which camp you belong to, ultimately, will
affect how much you enjoy this movie spinoff of a popular
TV drama series.
For fans of the TBS drama based on Yoko Kamio’s bestselling
shojo manga series, Hana Yori Dango: Final is probably an
eagerly anticipated chance to revisit the lives of Tsukusi
Makino and the Flower 4 (dubbed "F4"), as well as
many other characters of the series, four years after it ended.
For the uninitiated, this movie is best appreciated as a date
movie about true love transcending the class divisions of
wealth in society. See, Hana Yori Dango: The TV Series introduced
Tsukusi as a working-class girl attending an elite prep school
called Eitoku Academy. Known as the 'weed' of the school,
she finds herself at odds with the clique of four guys from
rich, high society families, which form the Flower 4.
The leader of the Flower 4 is a hot-headed guy named Domyouji
Tsukasa, the son of one of the wealthiest families in Japan.
Tsukasa takes an interest in Tsukusi, but she is turned off
by his behaviour initially. Gradually, Tsukusi comes to see
Tsukasa as fiercely loyal and devoted in his affection towards
her and they begin a courtship that forms the basis of the
story in this movie.
And so the movie takes off with the impending marriage between
Tsukasa and Tsukusi. Tsukasa’s mother presents the couple
with the 'Smile Of Venus', a precious family heirloom which
is stolen that very night and this disrupting Tsukasa and
Tsukusi’s marriage plans. The search for the stolen
tiara leads them to destinations such as America and Hong
Kong and also reunites the F4 who join them in their search.
For the most part, however, "rich-guy" Tsukasa and
"poor-girl" Tsukusi are on their own. In fact, the
movie seems content to rehash the running theme of the TV
series about the obstacles and challenges two people from
different social strata face as they navigate their course
of love. While this is familiar ground for fans, do prepare
to be disappointed if you expect to see more of the other
three members of F4, Rui Hanazawa, Mimasaka Akira, and Nishikado
Sojiro. Their combined screen time constitutes less than one-third
of the film’s bloated 131-minutes running time.
Pity then, for fans and non-fans alike, because the chemistry
and banter between the members of F4 are one of the best things
the movie has going for it. After two seasons, the actors
are by now well acquainted with each other and it shows by
the ease with which they bring a distinctive flair and personality
to all their characters. Jun Matsumoto, in particular, plays
Tsukasa capably and his sincere performance makes the sometimes
cringe-worthy lines in the movie more palatable.
But much as Jun and Mao Inoue (who plays Tsukusi) are likeable
actors, the story lets them down by drawing out some of its
scenes for too long. Especially towards the middle, the cross-continent
pursuit for the tiara does feel longer than it should be.
Non-fans will also likely feel themselves frustrated by the
sketchy relationships between some of the other characters
in the story that are hinted at but never fleshed out. And
therein lies the challenge of a TV drama-turned-feature-length
movie crossover. Unlike its more successful peers Hero and
the more recent Sex And The City: The Movie, Hana Yori Dango:
Final fails to trapeze the balance between pleasing fans and
providing enough back-stories not to frustrate non-fans.
In the end, Hana Yori Dango: Final gives fans the happily-ever
after ending that has eluded Tsukasa and Tsukusi for two seasons.
But to those not acquainted with the series, there are enough
bits of comedy and drama to entertain but not quite enough
to win them over as converts.
(If you're a fan, you probably lap this up. If you're
not, it's just a passable entertaining date movie)
Review by Gabriel Chong