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DIVE!! (Japan)

  Publicity Stills of
(Courtesy of InnoForm Media)

Genre: Comedy/Drama
Director: Naoto Kumazawa
Cast: Kento Hayashi, Sosuke Ikematsu, Junpei Mizobata, Asaka Seto, Misako Renbutsu, Ken Mitsuishi, Toru Emori
RunTime: 1 hr 55 mins
Released By: InnoForm Media & Cathay-Keris Films
Rating: PG (Brief Nudity)
Official Website: http://www.dive-movie.jp

Opening Day: 14 May 2009


Tomoki Sakai (Kento Hayashi) is your average junior-high student. Fascinated by the diving skills of Yoichi Fujitani (Sosuke Ikemaytsu), an elite athlete born into a family of former Olympic divers, Tomoki joins the Mizuki Diving Club (MDC) where Yoichi trains. However, the club is in the red, and its very survival is under question. Beautiful Kayoko Asaki (Asaka Seto) has just returned from the US and joins the club as a new coach, with the mission to save MDC. Her goal is for the club to produce an athlete capable of competing in the Olympics. She brings in Shibuki Okitsu (Junpei Mizobata), a skillful diver with a wild streak from Tsugaru. His volcanic personality and fierce competitiveness change the atmosphere in the club. Meanwhile, Kayoko discovers that Tomoki possesses a unique ability called “diamond eyes” and inspires him to begin serious training. Tomoki, Yoichi and Shibuki have to overcome personal problems, and struggle through conflicts and setbacks in the sport to achieve their dreams. Can they make it to the Olympics? What is the mystery of the “diamond eyes”? What do the boys see from the edge of their physical limits?

The hot summer of three boys hooked on the thrill of diving is about to begin.

Movie Review:

Dive!! is one of those well executed sport movies that not only meets the expectation of an underdog sport moves but exceed by tagging the audience’s heartstring as the film progressed to the finale

Let’s lay out this play-by-play of a generic sport movie. First you get the underdogs who have to achieve something miraculous in order to keep something ear to them active. There will be conflicts between teammates and coach but ultimately, they will get a shot (no matter how improbable) at Gold. Dive!! executed these expected sports movie formula steps skillfully like an athlete that had been training hard to perfect this routine and there are plenty sport movies out there that are not able to perform such feat.

There are movies that utilize the sports theme as a mere side dish and do nothing to delve deeper into that particular sport (aka a beautiful but pointless vase). While I’m not well verse in the diving sports, Dive!! made a particular strong effort in demonstrating the difficulties of this sport and the hardship in training to excel in this sports.

There are sports movies that dabble around 40% of the movie length in non essential events pertaining to the sport while in Dive!!, a scene away from the diving platform or various form of training felt like a well deserved break after a grueling training session.

This movie also went out to explain why certain training could improve certain technique, thus enabling the sport person to ascend to the next level of skill in order to compete with the big boys when he wasn’t able to do so in the first place. It exemplify why coach or even having a strategies in sports are important and make a big difference as the competition intensify.

Dive!! also examines the relationship that the athletes share with their love ones while in pursuit of their goal. It showcases how strenuous and rigorous training could put a strain in relationship. It’s also heart wrenching to watch them wrestle with constant disappointments for an uncertain future in their sport of choice and that’s one of the unshakeable fear that actual athletes faces in their pursuits.

Another notion that stood out was the way the film romanticizes this sport. It mention terms like ‘diamond eyes’ and “conquering the concrete dragon” which are probably not use in the actual sport itself. But it paints the romanticized picture of the love between the athletes and the sport, where one had given out so much time, effort and love that they gave pet names for various aspects of the sports.

It also touches on the differences between individual sports and team sports. As Dive!! features individual sports, it romanticize that as one progress in this sports, he or she would get lonelier on the path to championship while their peers either drop off from the training or fail to keep up with the standards of a champion.

This movie then counter-challenge the notion above by questioning if that the only path that the athletes had to take in this sport. The challenge will bring us to the 3rd good point about this movie and that’s the control of focus on 3 characters.

Similar to the Korean boxing movie, Crying Fist, this film put just enough weight and focus on each of the 3 boys to make the audience root for each character. In a fine manner of story telling, each character presented their individual reasons, passion and struggles to attempt to win the final hurdle. As competition usually allows only one winner and many other losers, it created a teary dilemma tension for the viewer on who to support, as they can’t all win the top prize.

Last but not least, Dive!! is also filled with spectacular scenes of diving. It utilized plenty of viewpoints from the diving podium that puts the audience right at the edge with the characters as they prepare to dive. Personally the drawback of this movie was that it didn’t follow through the shot of the actor performing the dive. It might be too much to ask from the young actors but if there were a shot of them doing a complex dive, it would be a perfect sport movie.

In closing, Dive!! may be a generic sport movie but it does well in performing the various steps in the formula to gather endearment from the viewers. It also promotes the passion and love for sports over winning medals which many people seems preoccupied with. Highly recommended for individuals who are passionate in their respective sports of choice … no matter which level they are playing the sports at.

Movie Rating:


Review by Richard Lim Jr


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