Review

  • This movie represents the first leading role Beat Takeshi has taken in more than a decade in a movie he didn't direct. The advance reviews of his performance were enthusiastic, and his powerful depiction of the violent and controlling Kim Shunpei more than lives up to the notices. Still, the film itself is a flawed creation; unable to pack all of the critical backstory of the original best-selling book even into a 140-minute film, the director settles for presenting a series of scenes that cycle repeatedly between set-up, violent outburst, and aftermath , with little connecting tissue and almost no effort to explain how or why the main character became the dangerous 'monster' he is. With leaps of years and even decades between scenes, it's clear that many of the book's defining incidents failed to make the screenplay, and while the lead and supporting performances are almost uniformly fine, I left the theater exhausted from the violence but feeling nothing for the victims--Kim's family, neighbors and employees--of it. (It is also probable that foreign audiences, not familiar with the cultural, political, and social issues surrounding the ethnic Korean community in Japan, will have trouble appreciating the crucial nuances of language and expression, most of which are unlikely to survive the subtitling process).