THE LEGEND OF THE BLACK MASK
2. Manga Entertainment.
is a lively Japanese addition to the expanding superhero movie
world, offering a heady mix of US-style comic book action with
a very Japanese style. The resulting film is a lot of fun.
in an alternative 1949, where WW2 hasn't happened and Japan
is still in a strict class-based society, the film tells the
story of Kekichi Endo (Takeshi Kaneshiro), a poor circus performer
who finds himself framed for the crimes of the masked villain
K-20, the Fiend with 20 Faces. Escaping from police custody,
he is sheltered by a gang of thieves, who teach him the skills
needed to be a thief (it's a lot more than just kicking someone's
door in!) and decides to become a new K-20 in order to unmask
the real criminal and clear his name - as well as prevent K-20
from stealing Nikola Tesla's Energy Beam Generator and holding
the world to ransom. Along the way, he finds himself rescuing
heiress Yoko (Takako Matsu) and dodging her fiancé, Kogoro
Akachi (Toru Nakamura) who is a celebrity Chief of Police.
it's period setting and masked hero (and villain), K-20
invariably brings to mind other retro superhero films - The
Shadow, The Phantom, The Rocketeer
and The Spirit. But while those films were
generally soulless exercises in (failed) commerciality, this
movie is solidly entertaining, keeping the action going at a
steady pace and having characters who are personable and fun
to watch. The steampunk style and use of as many physical effects
as possible (alongside solid CGI) give the film as much realism
as a movie like this could hope for, and director Shimako Sato
handles both the action and the melodrama well.
of comic strip action will find a lot to enjoy here. With its
mix of action, humour, social commentary and plot twists, it's
one of the better superhero films, and seems to be crying out
for franchise treatment!
DVD also contains an interesting 'making-of' documentary and
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