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UDON (Japan)

  Publicity Stills of "Udon"
Courtesy of Cathay-Keris Films

In Japanese with English and Chinese Subtitles
Director: Katsuyuki Motohiro
Starring: Yusuke Santamaria, Manami Konishi, Tortoise Matsumoto, Kyoka Suzuki, Takeshi Masu, Jin Katagiri
RunTime: 2 hrs 15 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://www.udon.vc/movie/

Opening Day: 17 May 2007


Kosuke is 31 and tired of his hometown where nothing happens. On a whim, he departs for New York with dreams of making it big but return defeated and with debt. Little does he realises upon his return, that he would rediscover the town’s - and the rest of the world’s - fixation with udon.

Movie Review:

We cannot imagine why anyone won’t fall in love with this Japanese noodle after watching this pleasing film about, well, udon noodles. To the untrained taste bud, this Asian dish may just be another noodle made with wheat flour served in boringly bland soup.

Worse, it could be just be another time-saving meal you quickly conjure by tearing up an instant noodle packet, chunking its contents into a pot of boiling water, and presto, five minutes later – a seemingly delicious meal.

If that’s your idea of udon noodles, then you are missing out on a lot. Similarly, this movie requires your appreciation of the rich Japanese culture of family and love so that you can bring home with you a wholesomely satisfying experience.

Director Katsuyuki Motohiro sets his latest film in his hometown Kawaga Prefecture (well known for its udon noodles) where the son of an udon shop owner returns home after spending an unfulfilled six years in New York. Upon his homecoming, his re-discovery for the noodle will bring about an unexpected life-changing experience of hope, love and human victory.

Too feel-good for your liking? Too predictable for your intellectual mind? Too stereotyped for a Japanese movie?

These are the instant concerns that will come to your quick-thinking mind upon reading the movie’s plot. But there is a unique power of Japanese pictures like this that ensures it to be an instant crowd-pleaser.

Motohiro’s previous works include the hilariously exciting Space Travelers (2000) and the colorfully engaging Bayside Showdown 2 (2003). It is no wonder then, to see the filmmaker effortlessly helming this agreeable and enjoyable work.

Leading man Yusuke Santamaria may not be your typical Prince Charming, but there is an earnest personality about this 36-year-old actor that will win your heart. Playing his potential love interest is Manami Konishi, who manages to be goofy without being irritating.

While the 134-minute runtime may not go down well with the more intolerant viewer (especially when you can expect what’s to come half an hour into the movie), there are certain bits that will have you smiling from ear to ear.

The documentary-styled narrative will make you sit up with its charming approach, where hundreds of Japanese locals embrace and celebrate their love for udon noodles. The picturesque scenes of the small rural town will also make you wish you could leave behind the bustling city you live in.

Needless to say, there are some mouth-watering shots of the delectable udon noodles in their full luscious glory. And thanks to our gluttony nature, it is oh-so-simple to look beyond the metaphorical symbolism of the noodle being people’s soul food.

Like you really care?

Movie Rating:

(Despite the movie’s predictability and lengthy runtime, it is still a pleasantly entertaining film that will have you smiling throughout)

Review by John Li


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