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HERO (Japan)

  Publicity Stills of "Hero"
(Courtesy from Encore Films)

In Japanese with English and Chinese Subtitles
Director: Mazayuki Suzuki
Cast: Takuya Kimura, Lee Byung Hun, Takako Matsu
Runtime: 2 hrs 10 mins
Released By: GV & Encore Films
Rating: PG
Official Website: www.encorefilms.com/hero

Opening Day: 22 November 2007


Based on the popular drama series that won the hearts of Asian audience, HERO returns! This is the most anticipated movie of the year as it opens in 475 theatres and is all time biggest release in Japan ever. The movie is set to break the box office records.

Kohei Kuryu (Takuya Kimura), the prosecutor who shirks suit and tie for a pair of jeans but is never casual about his pursuit for the truth, is back! Besides the original TV series cast, Korean heartthrob Lee-Byung Hung is in it and was shot partly in Busan. This time, he is involved in an obscure case of manslaughter that turns into the trial of the century.

Failure here means the end of his career. He must solve it!

Movie Review:

This reviewer has heard a lot about this certain Japanese superstar named Takuya Kimura. He hears that this enigmatic member of the pop group SMAP is really popular amongst both young girls and older women. He hears that this married man is the first male star to advertise lipsticks, and thanks to his famed status as a leading television star, the lipsticks’ sales shot sky high.

This reviewer first saw him on the big screen in Wong Kar Wai’s 2046 (2004). He thought that the actor who played Faye Wong’s boyfriend looked awkward. Then he saw him again as a blind samurai in Yoji Yamada’s Love and Honor (2006). He thought Kimura looked haggard.

So what’s the big deal about this Kimura character? After watching his latest feature film outing, this reviewer now understands his widespread appeal. This 35-year-old actor has all the charm and charisma which girls will love, and guys will want to imitate. Even the way he casually swings his Ipod Shuffle earphones appears to be ultra-suave.

Reprising his 2001 television series role of an intelligent and smart prosecutor, Kimura reunites with his former partners to solve a hit-and-run accident involving a soon-to-be-married man, an ex-politician, a security guard and an arson case. So many things, so little time – how does the man do it?

With his sharp observation and quick wits, of course.

Kimura shares screen time with the original cast of the television series, and it is obvious that they still have great chemistry together after six years. One signature scene comes near the end of the movie, where you see the gang of eight characters standing together in one shot – it’s just to cool to be true. Kimura also manages to anchor many of the movie’s most entertaining ensemble scenes with his commanding on-screen presence: look out for the chase sequence at the scrap yard because it will leave you laughing in stitches.

To up the star factor, Kimura travels to Korea with his potential love interest played by another popular Japanese starlet Takako Matsu (The Hidden Blade, Brave Story) to find a clue. In this rather unnecessary segment, we get to see yet another Asian superstar Lee Byung-hun (Bittersweet Life, Everybody Has Secrets) in a cameo which lasts for less than five minutes on screen. But two of Asia’s hottest leading men for the price of one cinema ticket? Why not?

For those (like this reviewer) who did not experience the fad that was the 2001 “Hero” television series, the 130-minute movie may be a little confusing at first, but let yourself settle in nicely and you’d be enjoying this flick like any other entertaining courtroom drama.

And you’d also be familiar with the catchy theme music by the time the movie ends on a bright and upbeat note.

Movie Rating: -

(Be it the star appeal or the winning storyline, this movie entertains from beginning to end)

Review by John Li


. Love & Honor (2006)

. Umizaru 2 (2006)

. Bayside Shakedown 2 (2005)

. A Bittersweet Life (2005)

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