Celebrated director and actor SABU made festival waves late last year in Tokyo premiering his latest, Jam. World sales reps at Freestone have been busy at EFM in Berlin where the film now looks toward garnering releases overseas since opening locally in December.
I still have high hopes that both seasons as well as the films and spin-offs within the HiGH&LOW action franchise make their way overseas, and of course it could take years at the very least. The premise of its entirety reads like something I can totally get into, dealing with boyhood drama and high octane action platformed on a gangster saga, and all led by an ensemble talent roster of actors and J-pop actors.
Aoyagi’s own performance doesn’t stretch really far in some instances while he does seem to illuminate in some scenes more palpably, and as equally needed in the few poignant moments he shares with Ishii. It’s exemplary of Nishikori’s handling of a film of this scale and sizes, offering a well-balanced period drama with a vast, epic scope that maintains its focus on character given the existential developments that accumulate along the way. You don’t immediately learn much from the subplot about how it all adds up, but you do get a sense of what is happening going into the second act. Actress Tabata Tomoko is instrumental here in the role of Okyo who appears seldom in the film, and mostly where it counts as the film seuges onward in its delivery in both compelling drama and cohesive storytelling.
Writer and director Nishikori Yoshinari’s latest, Tatara Samurai, has had a stellar run in the past year throughout the festival circuit. The film’s course most recently sought several screenings in the U.K. and in the U.S. with a number of wins in Tiburon and Irvine in California, and Cinema On The Bayou in Louisiana before just wrapping up at Ozark Foothills Film Fest in Arkansas in April.
At long last though, a new trailer has already begun making the rounds with a theatrical May 20 release in tow, and with a story set in the Warring States period where an embattled village known for its steel becomes ground zero for a young Blacksmith’s choice in lieu of arms proliferation to either become a soldier, or embrace his samurai spirit. Leading the cast is J-Pop star, actor Aoyagi Sho in reunion with Nishikori’s previous helmer, Konshin; Aoyagi is joined by fellow Exile Tribe members, fellow HiGH&LOW franchise co-star Akira and debut actor Kobayashi Naoki.
Check out the trailer below, as well as the teaser from last year just beneath for added measure.