In Japanese with English and Chinese subtitles
Director: Izuru Narushima
Cast: Takao Osawa, Yuko Takeuchi, Hiroshi Tamaki,
Tatsuya Fuji, Yoshihiko Hakamada, Ken Ishiguro, Nao Omori, Eisaku
RunTime: 2 hrs 17 mins
Released By: GV & Scorpio East
Opening Day: 17 April 2008
Based on the eponymous novel by acclaimed writer Tetsuo Takashima
("Intruder"), director Izuru Narushima ("Fly,
Daddy, Fly") helms this compelling action thriller set
in the snowbound Northern Alps of Japan. The film was shot
with the full cooperation of ministry of Defense, Japan Ground
Self Defense Force, Japan Air Self-Defense Force. Starring
Takao Osawa as a photographer who witnesses the crash of a
U.S. bomber aircraft nicknamed "Midnight Eagle"and
who becomes involved in an international hunt for its secret
pay load - a warhead that threatens to wipe out Japan's entire
Take a minute to read through “Midnight Eagle”
synopsis and you might assume this is a Made in Japan’s
version of a big-bang-boom Hollywood production. Why not?
It has all the ingredients of a mindless action plot.
American B-stealth bomber is found crashed at the top of Japan’s
frozen Northern Alps and worse still, it contains a nuclear
warhead which is targeted by enemy agents infiltrating the
country waiting to detonate it. At this juncture, you must
be expecting the armies and the agents having some bombastic
shootouts, choppers being deployed to stake out the enemies,
the Prime Minister taking the stage to announce a state emergency
and a finale that will blow out everything in sight, the warhead
is saved and the nation lived happily ever after.
above description did eventually happen. With all due respect,
it’s not a figment of my imagination. However, every
of the above events unfold in a much smaller scale and also
took a much longer time to develop.
at almost 2 hours plus, “Midnight Eagle” can be
a drag to sit through depends on how you look at it. It might
be embarrassing to say that my movie partner for the night
was fidgeting throughout, just waiting for the climax to arrive.
Alas, it never did arrive anyway and the closing chapter consists
of scenes and setups which were a reminiscent of a certain
Michael Bay’s movie called “Armageddon”.
most troubling factor is the enemies were never fully developed,
they were simply referred as “agents”. Their motives
never greatly justify either. In addition, there were constant
reminders to the audience that the Japanese army is not an
army but a self-defense force. Is director Izuru Narushima
trying to avoid a political overtone here? We thought so.
safer angle by Izuru perhaps is the constant drilling of the
relationship between the brooding ex-war journalist, Yuji
(Takao Osawa from “Crying out love in the centre of
the world”) and his inner demons. His estranged relationship
with his sister-in-law after his wife’s death turned
the movie into a direct melodrama in the end. It’s refreshing
though to watch the once matinee-idol, Eisaku Yoshida turns
in a wrenched performance as an army major after a long absence
from the screen.
between the scenic shots of snowy mountains, the government’s
war room and a letdown city chase, “Midnight Eagle”
offers plenty of dialogue instead of action sequences to blow
your mind. If you intend to walk into the theaters expecting
something from John Woo’s “Broken Arrow”
or the Japanese action hit, “White Out”, you will
walk out cursing and swearing.
say we never warn you.
insipid action thriller that fails to ignite)
Review by Linus Tee