So as suggested previously, I watched a lot of films whilst away. These were 3 I was really looking forward to seeing, but for various reasons, they missed the cut, one by the closest of margins, one by a country mile, and one just did not quite do it for me.
“Waterboys” was easily the closest. You might remember I talked a little about this film when talking about the wonderful “Swing Girls”. You might even have thought I had watched it. In short, it is a very similar film – misfits succeeding against the odds in an unusual pursuit. To be honest, it is quite marvellous, and if I had not already given “Swing Girls” the nod, it would have made the list in its own right.
Shinobu Yaguchi seems to have the knack at making these films. This one is equally as charming, and the speed at which the film moves is breathtaking. Japanese films can sometimes take a little while to get going, but this one moves the story forward at a speed I have been unused to. It slide effortlessly forward from scene to scene, never dwelling on any crisis too long. The five main characters all seem to get enough screen time, and we even get a bit of that romance which was avoided in “Swing Girls”. It even deals humorously with the obvious issues about a film which is essentially about young men in swimming trunks.
The criticisms are the same, maybe they boys get a little too skilled at things, but with this movie you just deal with that.
Another highlight is Naoto Takenaka, who plays a rather unconventional coach (just as he did in “Swing Girls”), and here he is even better.
I would recommend this film wholeheartedly – yes it is slight, but wickedly entertaining!
The most disappointing film of the bunch was “Daisy”. Written by Kwak Jae-Young, starring my favourite actress Jun Ji-Hyun, and directed by Andrew Lau (someone we will get to later) this should have had all the ingredients to be a shoo-in for the list.
It tells the tale of a love triangle between an Artist, a Policeman and a Hitman. Oh and although they are all Korean, they all live in Holland (where everyone speaks English). There are moments of class that shine through, especially in the first half hour, but the film soon descends into a period of maudlin depression. I am afraid that long moody shots of people being upset don’t always do it for me.
There are just too many plot holes for me to forgive, and making Jun Ji-Hyun wallow in silence for half of the film is just a waste. That is not to say it is not well acted, just that the underlying material is not good enough.
Finally we come to “Azumi 2 – Death or Love”. This one is not bad at all. A direct continuation of the previous film (which I already have admitted my adoration of), it continues in much the same vein, although directed in a less hyper-kinetic fashion. There is much more story here, and most of it deals with the effects of that scene I mentioned in my comments on the first film. A much more thoughtful film.
However, it spends a lot of time running around to stay still – characters go on long journeys only to bump into each other again way too easily.
Aya Ueto is still as cute as ever, and the bad guys are a lot more compelling than those in the previous film. But there is something missing for me, a certain charm is lost.
The highlight is the final shot – the titular heroine leaves the scene of the final conflict, followed by the rivers of blood.
By no means not a bad film at all, in fact it is rather good. Watch it if you enjoyed the first film, but I don’t think it will be the one to convert you.