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(252: Seizonsha ari) (Japan)

  Publicity Stills of
"252 Signal Of Life"
(Courtesy of Encore Films)

In Japanese with English & Chinese Subtitles
Director: Nobuo Mizuta
Cast: Ito Hideaki, Uchino Masaaki, Takayuki Yamada, You Kashii, Yuichi Kimura, MINJI, Tara Yamamoto
RunTime: 2 hrs 3 mins
Released By: Encore Films & GV
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://www.encorefilms.com/252

Opening Day: 23 April 2009


A few weeks after a gigantic earthquake struck Tokyo. Metropolitan Tokyo is slowly beginning to function again. But the temperature of the Pacific Ocean suddenly increases after the earthquake, causing a tremendous typhoon. The largest typhoon ever in Japan heads towards Tokyo with devastating force. The tidal wave generated by the typhoon covers the coastal city area with water.

The Tokyo Fire Department dispatches its elite rescue unit, Hyper Rescue, and their sonar picks up a signal from underwater. Beneath the ground, in one devastated subway station, there is someone sending out a code which is known to rescuers only…

“252… 252…” – “We have survivors!”

“252” is the rescue code that means “There are survivors.” Someone who knows the rescue protocol is trapped underground! The rescuers, the survivors and their families all prey for their loved ones’ safe return. In the extreme situation, a rescue party tries to save the survivors at the risk of their own lives. In the face of death, a daring rescue operation is to be carried out within 18 minutes, intersecting with many dramas of family, love, pride, and human life…

Movie Review:

Besides their giant monsters (eg Godzilla) flicks, Japan is also well known for their mega disaster (eg Sinking of Japan) cum rescue (eg Umizaru 2) flicks. It’s a no brainer as Japan is frequently under the mercy of earthquakes and typhoon. Those horrific and heroic tales that occurred during those natural disasters would probably strike a chord with the Japanese audience.

252 Signal of Life is another gung-ho entry to the search and rescue folder that is oozing with machoism. In fact, 252 Signal of Life is so concerned with featuring machismo and drama in this movie that it neglected simple logic and plausibility to achieve that. That created laughable moments for the discerning audience who question stuff that presented on screen.

For example, during a rescue operation in real life, it would be rather unlikely to have a bunch of rescue workers crowding around a possible exit point of a collapse site. In practical terms, they are blocking the exit and taking up oxygen for those who are really in need. In this movie, this bunch of rescue workers is seen crowding around doing nothing. In army, we term that as a bunch of “cluster fuck” personals that are all using their “eye power”.

It went to a “climatic” finale which features more of such silliness that too spoilish to be describe here but I’m sure if you bother to read this review, you would be intelligent to figure out how the laughable absurd macho exaggerations will continue.

There are plenty of scenes that are littered with such “incorrectness” that contradict with reality. Such as why would an old disused office contain seemly brand new stationeries as though as the office is still being in use? These laughable “incorrectness” elements kept derailing whatever the machoism momentum that 252 Signal of Life had going.

It also went on too long trying to drum up audience’s emotions by featuring constipated expression on some of the Japanese actors who are trying to express dilemma. Their miscalculation in scoring the audience’s sympathy points would end up as a long draggy affair in which the filmmakers would go on and on in milking a cow that’s actually dry.

If there’s anything that 252 Signal of Life excel in, it would be the casting of young Ayane Omori as Shiori, the protagonist Yuji Shinohara (played by Hideaki lto) ‘s daughter. Even though this film blatantly use this pint size girl to milk as much emotions and tears from the audience, Ayane Omori is so cutesy and adorable that a cynic like me would feel sorry for her to go through such an ordeal. Especially in a scene which she cries for her papa really wrench the most harden heart. Prepare tissue for this little girl’s performance.

Lastly in closing, 252 Signal of Life would make a great recruitment film or a company outing event (albeit the incorrectness). The message is undeniably wholesome and reaffirming for those who are involved with civil service. It’s a pity that this film flounders at delivering this message by forcing machismo in the most laughable manner down the audience throat.

Movie Rating:

(Overly melodramatic SCDF recruitment drive movie)

Review by Richard Lim Jr


. Midnight Eagle (2007)

. Hero (2007)

. Sinking of Japan (2006)

. Umizaru 2: Test Of Trust (2006)

. Umizaru (2004)

. Yamato DVD (2006)

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