Film: Smuggler! (Sumagurâ: Omae no mirai o hakobe / スマグラ ー おまえの未来を運べ)
Director: Katsuhito Ishii
Running time: 115 minutes
Right. The (elongated review) story so far…
2011 – Summer
The Summer of free-content: A very special and rare treat for Japanese film fans… You could say we were advised to keep it hush-hush or that there was an embargo on mentioning this to anyone.
2011 – Autumn
The Autumn of DVD content..
The release of a certain DVD.
2011 – Errr… has waaaaay gone. So, now it’s…
The [almost] Winter of MMM’s (2014) dis-content:
Indeed, very much no longer in 2011 but now it IS the time to load up this ‘secret’ screening review. I don’t mean the review is secret, but the screening – oh, how we love the contradictory English language!
A ‘Secret event’ this was, and a Summer one (and many weeks ahead of October 22 2011, the release date of this film!)
For you, and all’s information the film was released by Warner Bros. in Japan on October 22, 2011.
The hotly anticipated film was due to start, albeit quite a bit later than advertised.
What was this film going to be about? We had no idea. All we knew was that it was Japanese and one not yet released over here in the UK.
We subsequently were informed that this was also not the final cut of the film that we were about to see. Information was also provided as to the (many) well known stars in it and that it is an adaptation of a comic book. A Japanese “Dick Tracy”? We would surely hope not!
The latter announcement indicated to us that such a movie should not be taken too seriously.
Anyway, as soon as it started the larger than life characters confirmed the almost comic-book-ness of its style.
We’re introduced to a slightly odd bunch, and unsure how each character fits in with the whole story, & perhaps even uncertain as to how exactly it fits in with the films presumed theme of, well… ‘smuggling’.
There are two characters which appear and at least one begins to wreak a little havoc, using martial art techniques but with the use of some intriguing equipment. We still don’t know much about these two or whether they are indeed the good or bad guys. One though, does seem a little immortal judging by his combatting skills.
We are soon witnessing fight scenes reminiscent of quite a few Japanese films. The slow-motion style reminded me, in particular of Milocrorze – A Love Story (Mirokurôze / ミロクローゼ), a must-see film and work of art incidentally. Incidentally too, you can find Mini Mini’s review of that gem here: Milocrorze – A Love Story (Mirokurôze / ミロクローゼ).
Yes, this is no “Batman” although the odd animated “Pow!” wouldn’t look out of place in certain scenes. The characters though? Well, they could be Batman-esque – just look at one of the individual’s eyebrows… Woah! ‘Holy Woah-ly’ indeed, Batman. Ironically, such eyebrows resemble the lining on one of the female lead’s fur coats. Maybe MMM simply looks too deeply into films… Hmmm. Perhaps this site should be nicknamed HMMM, rather than MMM.
Back to the [un-spoiler-ed] story. We’re taken on a mini road Trip-in-a-Truck, in which we mainly don’t see the outside world but essentially either the cabin or the storage area itself.
As vague as I’ve tried to be here, I must save the end of this review for a certain torture scene in the film. Please don’t, however compare the writing of the review to torture too… that wouldn’t help MMM’s popularity one little bit…hehehe.
This torture scene is brilliant, tense, comical, insane and absurd whilst being inventive & realistic. Realistic? Indeed. At least in the pain you feel for the victim, without necessarily seeing the actions planned. You see, you really don’t need to see them, the director plants what is going to happen inside your head – So much so that one of the lucky attendees of this preview couldn’t watch certain shots or proceedings.
The torturer is even dressed up in some bizarre gear at some point, representing a member of the army and some would say a tad controversial. Or maybe just one [me] would say… 😉 Could it instead be Comical? Com-troversial then? *sigh*
Lastly, Mitsushima’s character – compared to her other recent roles – such as Sawako Decides [ review ] and her screen-time is also a far [or an ‘afar’?] distance from that in others. Mitsushima is almost a cameo here.
In all, and from the end section especially, we have great colours – Never more so than in the final shot, scene or summarisation, which shows us why Smuggler is Smuggler! (Exclamation mark necessary)
Shown as part of a Third Window Films and Terracotta Distribution ‘Meet-Up’ event. More details here:
I believe it was this particular one:
Not only is mine – and others – admiration for Terracotta Distribution and Third Window Films & the titles released, festivals held, unique-to UK Special Edition items & indeed affordably priced goods, they also hold the odd – or not so ‘odd’ – one-off events.
Yes, it seems that the guys at Terracotta and Third Window are never satisfied with having enough on their plate. They always want more… or rather, they always want to ‘give’ more!
TD and TWF seem to give so much to the Asian-cinema-hungry audience, whilst asking for very little in return. Many feel that their marketing skills and event programming is second to none.
As an example of events, the guys at TD and TWF hold a monthly, or bi-monthly ‘Secret’ Asian Movie Meet-up – or simply a non-Secret one, themed one, Japanese specific or, well, whatever!
These events often show the audience a yet-to-be-released Asian film, or one of their favourites – therefore, these occasions can be an exciting affair, with the audience being both surprised and often given an ‘exclusive’ screening. Competitions are also common-place, and the prizes are DVDs from these two reputable distributors.
Speaking from experience, these nights – although sometimes weekend afternoons – are a lot of fun, where one can drink, chat and of course WATCH!
Again, Terracotta Distribution and Third Window Films pull out all the stops and usually make this a FREE event!
But that’s enough of the T & TF STORY.
Further details of Terracotta Distribution – the company behind the Terracotta Far East Film Festival & Terracotta Touring Festival – and that other Asian film favourite, the aforementioned Third Window Films are below. However, before you rush to clickety-click-away I’d like to use this space to mention the mindless riots experienced here in the UK in 2011. Did you know that these riots caused hundreds of thousands of pounds in damages and loss to our favourite independent film distributors? These are, essentially… Arrow Films, Artifical Eye, The BFI, Crabtree Films, Cine-Asia, Dogwoof Films, Exposure Cinema, Eureka, Kaleidoscope Films, Left Films, Masters of Cinema, Metrodome Films, New Wave Films, Peccadillo Pictures, Revolver Entertainment, Showbox Home Entertainment, Terracotta, Third Window Films and Warp Films.
So, with the latter in mind it is even more important to spread the word, virally about these unfortunate vendors. On that note I leave you with these links… all which will, in some way assist in keeping such films to be distributed here in the so-called land of milk & honey.
(… again, often in conjunction with that other reputable distributor, Third Window Films).
Thanks for your support… in every way.
See You Later, L’asia or That’s all, Filks*!
What? You want MORE?!
Trailer [A Smidgen of Smuggler!]
* Filks. A combination of Film and Folks.