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K-20 (Japan) (K-20: Kaijin niju menso den)

  Publicity Stills of
(Courtesy of Festive Films)

Director: Shimako Sato
Cast: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Takako Matsu, Toru Nakamura, Jun Kunimura, Reiko Takashima, Kanata Hongo, Yuki Imai, Takeshi Kaga

2 hrs 17 mins
Released By: GV & Festive Films
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://www.festivefilms.com/K-20/

Opening Day: 19 February 2009


In 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!

Movie Review:

Some girls have all the luck. While there are gorgeous (read: eye candy) actors and actresses who sign on movie deals only when they feel like it, we have the good looking Takeshi Kaneshiro (by the way, we think he’s the perfect human being) who has spoilt his fans by starring in a series of prominent movies. Whether it’s the idealistic Jian Wuyang in Peter Chan’s The Warlords (2007), the charming Death God in Masaya Kekehi’s Accuracy of Death (2008) or the suavely intelligent Zhuge Liang in John Woo’s Red Cliff (2008-2009), the 35 year old born to a Japanese father and a Taiwanese mother has made gleeful fans flock to cinemas just to admire his striking good looks, and oh, his credible acting, too.

In his latest big screen outing, Kaneshiro plays a circus acrobat who gets mistaken for K-20, a mysterious man who robs the rich. This titular character has the ability to change his appearances, sending the local police up the wall in frustration. A series of coincidences and misunderstandings lead to jail escape plans, desperate attempts to prove a man’s innocence and an ultimate showdown between the two K-20s.

The fictional setting of this fantasy movie allows the filmmakers to capitalize on their imagination to create worlds which commoners can only dream about. And thanks to the Japanese’s ever so high standard of filmmaking, technology has been effectively utilized to visualize this world set in the 1940s. You may have never experienced life during that era, but the images you see on screen are so seemingly authentic, you feel the familiarity just by seeing the characters transit from one location to another. The vintage and retro look of the movie will enchant the viewers who subscribe to the old school thought that everything should be grand and magnificent.

Viewers are also promised 137 enjoyable minutes with this movie. Sure, some of us do not have much tolerance for shows which run over 90 minutes these days, but this one zips with so much fun and energy, you can’t help but go along with the ride. It helps that the story features colourful characters with memorable personalities. While this Shimako Sato directed picture may not be the most intellectual movie you have watched in a while, all it is asking you is to sit back and be entertained by what the cast is putting up for you.

The two most familiar faces fans would recognize here are Kaneshiro’s and female lead Takako Matsu’s. Matsu (Hero, The Hidden Blade). While Matsu mesmerizes us with her classic Japanese porcelain look and elegance, it is Kaneshiro’s engaging performance that truly anchors this adaptation of So Kitamura’s novel. Watch the superstar conjure acrobatic tricks, jump around skyscrapers and save the day. It may remind you of a certain American superhero who was bitten by a radioactive spider before having the power to swing around buildings, but there’s not one moment the word “copycat” will cross your mind, simply because you’re having too good a time to complain.

Besides, Kaneshiro’s star attraction outshines everything else. You may already be thinking of rushing to retail stores to grab those limited edition “bear brick” figurines specially manufactured for the movie – right after the end credits roll.

Movie Rating:

(A very enjoyable movie that banks on Takeshi Kaneshrio’s star power)

Review by John Li


. Accuracy of Death (2008)

. Red Cliff (2008)

. The Warlords (2007)

. Confession Of Pain (2006)

. Love And Honor (2005)

. House of Flying Daggers (2004)

. Dororo DVD (2007)




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