Thursday, October 16, 2008

Jmovie review: Taiyo no Kizu/Sun Scared

The thing about Takashi Miike, Japan's hardest working director is that you either love his movies or you hate it. While he is king of B-grade horror/gore with such movies as Ichi the Killer, he is capable of doing real good mainstream films like Zebraman. Miike is like the Frank Miller of Japanese cinema. He is very talented but likes to indulge himself way too much, ie does whatever he likes without worrying about pacing and the overall movie. Its mostly when he is constrained or working has to fit his style to a structure then his brilliance comes through.

I can't really forgive him for fucking up Ryuga Gotoku though. The game had the perfect story to be adapted to movie form. It was a simple yakuza story about friendship, betrayal and loyalties and yet Miike went overboard by giving Majima too much screentime that the story was non-existant. However in Taiyo no Kizu, Miike has once again showed why he is a cut above most Japanese directors today.

Frequent colaborator, Aikawa Sho plays Katayama, a salaryman who saves a homeless man from being beat up by a gang of youths and starts a chain of events which destroy his life. The youths get revenge on him and thus starts his trouble. There are many interesting elements in this movie. First is how juvenile offenders are given too much protection in Japan. Yes, they have higher chance of rehabilitation but for serious crimes, they are basically getting away scott free. Miike also presents the other side. How people can leave their past if they have something to live for but ultimately, in Taiyo no Kizu the juvenile system is prone to abuse.

The second interesting element of the story is sensational newsreporting. How the public so simply turned against Katayama and how the news selectively reports information for sensational headlines. We get that in Australia as well, which I fucking hate. Presenting one sided information and prejudging people so that people will buy papers with exciting headlines. Like how the news omit the fact that Katayama was saving a homeless man and how the public blamed him for the kids' crimes.

However, Miike's aim in this movie is not to dwell or examine the above two points. His aim is very different from most revenge movies. He wants us to feel Katayama's pain and frustration at a system which fucks the innocent and protects the guilty. The movie does not need to show too much of Katayama's pain and anguish. By showing less, the audience feels his frustration more. When the walls that stop him from getting justice keep coming we feel even more empathy. The more he strives to seek retribution, the more we support him. He is the ultimate underdog.

In other words. This movie is about the payoff. The act of vengeance. And never before have I felt so happy than when Katayama finally got his hand on the kid. My brother and I were cheering him on as he pounded the guy's face into the floor. Never have I watched a movie where I am so emotionally involved in an act of violence. It sorta feels wrong but never have I seen a movie that is built to manipulate my emotions this way. As Jon Favreau said, movies are about making the audience feel or experience something they don't in real life and Taiyo no Kizu does just that.

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