Hero (Film)

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(Special thanks to Patrick for your contribution again!)

Being a fan of SMAP’s Takuya Kimura since the early years, it’s definitely great to see the actor taking on the lead role once again in a feature film (since Kimura has contributed more to dramas than to films in his acting career).

“Hero” indeed brings back the good, old days, where Takuya has ruled the J-pop drama scene with titles such as “Love Generation” [1997] and “Long Vacation” [1996]. Although the actor never leaves the drama scene (think Hero [2001]“, Pride” [2004], “Engine”[2005] etc. in recent years), it’s classics like “Love Generation” that shot him to fame. And I figure he will always be the idol in the hearts of his fans because of this. But this is just one of the reasons why you should watch this film.

A better reason will be the pairing up of Takuya Kimura with Takako Matsu. For long-time fans of Japanese dramas such as myself, it will definitely evoke a sense of nostalgia when the fans see the on-screen couple once again (Takuya Kimura and Takako Matsu are an onscreen couple in “Love Generation”).

Takako Matsu is also in “Long Vacation” starring opposite Takuya Kimura but for this drama, it’s actress Yamaguchi Tomoko who stands out. Nevertheless, it’s always good to see the two leads together once again. Both have aged quite a bit since then (well, it’s been a decade) but their on-screen chemistry and charismatic antics are still there after all these years. There’s one thing to note though. Fans of Korean heartthrob Lee Byung-Hun will be terribly disappointed since he has only about 5-15 minutes of screen time.

“Hero” is a film on legal tussles. Director Masayuki Suzuki’s concoction of legal suspense and humour is strategically balanced and the film is on the whole, well-paced. The story is linear and humour is nicely embedded in the witty dialogues of the cast. Especially noteworthy is the director’s artistic cinematography, often using direct and straight shots for most scenes. While the shots are conventional, they are appropriate since it suits the confrontational approach in the film, symbolic of lawyers enmeshed in legal battles.

Repeated overhead shots of the legal office to induce humour are also insightful and interesting. More prominently shown are the repeated shots of the statue of justice, somewhat metaphoric with his eyes blindfolded and his hands holding a balanced scale, as if to signify that nothing is what it seems on the surface.

All in all, watch “Hero” for its message of impartially pursuing the truth at all costs.

And of course, the pairing of Takuya Kimura and Takako Matsu is remarkable. Their onscreen chemistry still sizzles after all these years.

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