Film Review: Black Belt (2007) by Shunichi Nagasaki

“Black Belt” is a reasonably uncommon movie for the martial arts style. Showcasing karate, as a substitute of succumbing to the standard exaggerations related to the style, as a substitute options real martial artists within the protagonists’ roles (Tatsuya Naka seventh Dan JKA Shotokan karate, Akihito Yagi seventh Dan Meibukan Gōjū-ryū Karate and Yuji Suzuki, 1st Dan Kyokushin karate) and its focus is totally on realism reasonably than impression. 

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The occasions happen in 1932 in Japanese-occupied Manchuria, through which the corrupt leaders of the Japanese military are attempting to take over all of the Karate dojos /coaching halls for their very own profit. Grasp Eiken Shibahara  from certainly one of these dojo situated on the southernmost Japanese island of Kyushu, dies earlier than passing on the Kuroobi/ black belt to his successor, simply after the army police tries, and fails to take over their faculty, as his three college students, Taikan, Giryu and Choei efficiently beat their forces. Sadly, when the chief of the procession is overwhelmed, he’s pressured to commit suicide, in a collection of occasions that find yourself with the three college students being break up, as his youngsters come to hunt revenge from Giryu, whom they think about accountable. The younger man, who adopted the real teachings of his grasp, that karate is for self-defence and never for attacking, finds himself injured in the home of a poor agricultural household, who care for him. Depressed concerning the earlier occasions, he has began to query his beliefs and his entire dedication to karate. Within the meantime, Taikan, whose philosophy is to hit first always, finally ends up employed by the native chief of the army forces, beating up others masters and taking over their dojos, whereas indulging in alcohol and girls, which, nevertheless, don’t appear to boring his skills the least. Choei, though disgusted by his colleagues’ methods, nonetheless follows him. Finally, and inevitably, the connections of the aforementioned chief with the native yakuza deliver him towards Giryu, and the showdown between the 2 former classmates is unavoidable. 

In all probability probably the most spectacular facet of the film is the realism of the fights, most of which finish in a single punch or kick, though a number of the deaths that happen appear considerably extreme. The distinction of the 2 most important fighters, each of that are equally expert however have fully completely different philosophies, additionally works fairly nicely right here, with the ultimate combat within the mud being notably spectacular. The issue nevertheless, is that Taikan, regardless of his violent methods, emerges as probably the most interesting one, each as a result of he succumbs to “sin” after some level, but additionally as a result of he seems decisive and competent, whereas Giryu is timid and all the time pondering as a substitute of appearing, with the implications of his mentality often being a lot worse that what his colleague’s violence causes. On the identical time, the truth that it turns into apparent that the ‘virtuous’ will defeat the ‘sinner’ at the side of the aforementioned facet, additionally faults the general sense the narrative emits, moreover as a result of the ending appears unlikely and even sanctimonious on plenty of ranges. 

Basically, the place the film really thrives is the moments when Tatsuya Naka as Taikan seems on display screen, together with his varied fights but additionally his total manner being fairly interesting, whereas additionally showcasing his skills in karate. Notably the combat with one other grasp, whose method is comparable, is a surprise to take a look at, additionally because of its relentless brutality. Granted, the final one is extra spectacular, however that happens extra in cinematic/dramatic phrases, reasonably than the precise preventing. Nonetheless, Fuyuhiko Nishi’s choreography and Akihiro Noguchi’s motion coordination are top-notch, one thing that turns into evident in each combat. 

Masato Kaneko’s cinematography captures the period and the agricultural setting in probably the most glorious trend, with a top quality and a deal with realism that’s fairly uncommon for the style. HIrohide Abe’s modifying implements a tempo that’s comparatively quick however not frantic, often permitting a tempo that may match household dramas extra, one thing, nevertheless, that does assist in the general consequence.

“Black Belt” just isn’t precisely the movie that followers of martial arts films will adore, however on the identical time, is one which followers of extra socially oriented cinema will most likely discover rather more fascinating. 

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