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  Publicity Stills of "The Black Swindler"
(Courtesy of Cathay-Keris Films)

In Japanese with English and Chinese Subtitles
Director: Yasuharu Ishii
Cast: Tomohisa Yamashita, Maki Horikita, Sho Aikawa, Tstomu Yamazaki
RunTime: 2 hrs 8 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films & Scorpio East
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://www.kurosagi-movie.jp/

Opening Day: 18 September 2008


There are three kinds of fraudster.

One, called the ‘WHITE SWINDLER’ finds a mark, and steals money. The ‘RED SWINDLER’ preys on the other sex, and steals a mark’s body and soul.

Then there is the ‘BLACK SWINDLER’. Ignoring ordinary marks, targeting only the white and red herons, and preying on their flesh grown fat and corrupt with the money they have stolen, he is the worst of them all.

The victim of a fraud artist, a father and his family commit suicide...the only one left alive is his son, Takashi Kurosaki, who vows revenge on all the scam artists that infest this world. The path he has chosen is that of the ‘black swindler’.

Kurosaki buys information on ‘white herons’ from ‘the fixer’. Ironically, this underworld ‘fixer’ is none other than Katsuragi, the man who drove Kurosaki’s family to destruction. Under the burden of this whim of fate, Kurosaki improvises one unique method after another as he stalks his prey.
His current target is Ishigaki, a corporate fraud artist whose modus operandi involves making a present of a very expensive version of the corporate seal to a company president. This seal, being the equivalent of a signature, is then officially registered, and only then does Ishigaki send out a flood of fake contracts bearing the new seal. His latest victim is a woman executive whose daughter is in need of a heart transplant.

Before Kurosaki strikes at Ishigaki, a mysterious woman named Sakura appears. Her father, it turns out, was also ruined by Katsuragi. In contrast to Kurosaki, though, she has chosen to rebuild her life by forgiving and forgetting, so much so that she is actually in love with Katsuragi.
Regarding the love-hate relationship between them, Kurosaki is also forced to admit that his feelings towards Katsuragi are complicated. Katsuragi is the person he hates most, but also the closest person to him. Eventually he begins to wonder whether, in fact, Katsuragi is simply using him.

As the action rises to its highest pitch, Katsuragi imposes a charge far higher than anything Kurosaki has ever paid. Will he be able to recover the money Ishigaki has stolen? Will he be able to save the company president’s daughter? And how should he face the destiny that links him to Katsuragi?

Movie Review:

Combine black and white motifs with a sprinkling of Shakespearean verses and you get the clever pun on "Othello". Merge shadow-play and finger puppets with Yamashita Tomohisa's amazing moob-like pecs and you get caught trying to be too cute.

The Black Swindler is a shameless plug for "the sexiest man in Japan", NEWS member Yamashita Tomohisa, and the script-writers have decided to not let the story get in the way. There is zero character development, the story is unclear and the screensavers on the police department computers are patently trippy.

Popping The Black Swindler press kit CD into my laptop, I found 12 close-up stills of Mr Tomohisa and about a half-page's worth of text. The press kit was indeed insightful and penetrating where the film's marketing focus is concerned. Hell yes, Mr Tomohisa is quite the swindler, they could even screen his stills for 2 hours and no movie-goer would spot the difference. Yasuharu Ishii, the director of no less than four pretty boys in his last movie, the imaginatively titled Boys over Flowers: The Movie, was brought in to play the loyal wingman to Mr Tomohisa's anime magnetism.

Word in the street revealed that Kurosagi was quite the drama series. I am pretty sure The Black Swindler movie would make a credible hour-long episode. Nothing more. Indeed, in this movie, more questions were raised than answered.

Movie Rating:

(Who's Tsurara Yoshikawa and what is her purpose in the move? Why is Naoto Takenaka in every Japanese movie?)

Review by Tyler Lim


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