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Ai to Makoto

For Love's Sake
The Legend of Love and Sincerity

Japan 2012
produced by
Kadokawa Shoten, Excellent Films, OLM/Toei
directed by Takashi Miike
starring Satoshi Tsumabuki, Emi Takei, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Takumi Saito, Ito Ono, Sakura Ando, Yo Hitoto, Masachika Ichimura, Seishiro Kato, Ken Maeda, Kimiko Yo
screenplay by Takayuki Takuma, based on the manga by Ikki Kajiwara, Takumi Nagayasu, music by Takeshi Kobayashi, visual effects by Tsugutaka Fukuoka, CGI effects by OLM

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Teenaged Makoto (Satoshi Tsumabuki) has always been a problem child - but he has saved the life of Ai (Emi Takei), a rich daughter about his age, once when she had a skiing accident, and she has instantly fallen in love with him. So when she learns that he has been arrested, she sees to it that he's not sent to prison but transferred to her upper class high school, where she thinks the teachers will make a better man out of him - much to the dismay of Hiroshi, a co-ed who has fallen hopelessly in love with her but whose love is never requited ... just like her love to Makoto is never requited.

Makoto of course runs in trouble at the posh school almost immediately, much to the dismay of Ai's father, who cuts funding for him ... and thus, Ai becomes a stripper to pay for Makoto's tuition out of her own pocket - to no avail, Makoto soon gets kicked out of school anyways. Desperately in love with him though, Ai quits her school too, and enters the ghetto school he goes to presently, only to be with him. Hiroshi soon follows suit.

Eventually, Makoto gets friendly with delinquent girl Yuka, but later drops her like a fly because somehow Ai's love touches him. What he doesn't know though is that Yuka is the delinquent boss of the high school, and she's not one to forgive easily - so she wants Makoto killed, and when he beats half of her gang to a pulp, she changes strategy and has Ai and Makoto's crack whore mother (whom he hates) kidnapped, just to lure him into a trap.

All the narrative threads eventually find their solutions in numerous finales, many of these quite blood-drenched.

 

An adaptation of a popular manga from the 1970's that simply starts out great: There's plenty of over-the-top action, sets and costumes spell 1970's in broad letters but in their straight-forwardness also betray the film's comicbook roots, and a combination of musical numbers and schoolgirls getting kicked around just add up to utter hilarity ... and then the film almost inexplicably loses steam. The problem here is that after a great set-up, the film tries to cover way too much ground of the manga series it's based on and at times just loses its pace and immediacy because it heaps more and more subplots onto the main storyline, and while some of the subplots are at least exhilarating, others are simply not worth it - and also the multiple finales, while they sound great on paper, actually become more annoying each time the movie hasn't come to a proper ending. The other problem of course is that despite a running time of no less than 135 minutes, the film still seems to rush through its story (and subplots), giving many key elements quite simply too little attention. Plus, while the movie shows much inventiveness and playfulness at the beginning (which does include the musical numbers), it eventually just loses its originality and becomes repetitive, which many an idea actually being derived of their meaning for the story in the long run.

That said, the film is anything but disaster area, it's a very stylishly shot piece of action cinema, with its tongue firmly in cheek, and several scenes that are just exhilarating - but with a more stringent screenplay, the film just could have been so much more.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
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Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD