rain.png
Friday February 26th, 2021 7:41AM

Tokyo festival opens with grueling boxing 'Underdog' film

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

TOKYO (AP) — Masaharu Take’s films have always focused on painful stories about Japan's “under-class,” people who are often overlooked in a nation stereotyped as monolithically well-to-do.

The heroes of his latest work, “Underdog,” couldn’t be more beaten down, stoically hardworking yet hopelessly under-class: They are boxers.

“Most of them will lose. Most of them will never become champions,” said Take, who is also directing the Netflix hit “The Naked Director.”

“I feel an adoration for those boxers, their strength, the courage that they have, that I don’t have, and that’s what I’ve been imagining and thinking about.”

Take, who loved Sylvester Stallone’s “Rocky” and was profoundly influenced by “Raging Bull,” directed by Martin Scorsese, scored success six years ago with “100 Yen Love,” which also had boxing as a motif. It starred a clumsy introverted woman who finds purpose and pride, as well as physical fitness, through boxing.

“When we thought about what was the most brutal sport we could put the character through, we came up with boxing,” he told The Associated Press recently.

Take (pronounced TUH-kay) returns to the boxing theme with a vengeance with “Underdog,” a grueling work telling not just one but three stories of boxers over nearly five hours.

Dancer Mirai Morimoto gives an all-out performance as the washed out formerly No. 1 ranked Akira, gaining muscle as well as fighter moves for the role. A comedian, played by Ryo Katsuji, gets serious for the first time in life when a TV producer’s idea of entertainment is to pit him against a real boxer. Takumi Kitamura portrays a reformed delinquent whose dream is to fight Akira.

“Underdog” premieres as the opener for the Tokyo International Film Festival, which starts Saturday and runs through Nov. 9.

The three protagonists’ gut-wrenching tales of struggle and emotional loss drive the plot, and the fights in the ring work like cathartic celebrations of Take’s filmmaking. The men are all born losers, despite their championship dreams. But the film shows defeat sometimes can be glorious.

The festival’s screenings will be socially distanced among other coronavirus measures, and a scaled-down red-carpet gala will stream online.

The festival also features the Cannes Jury Prize-winning director Koji Fukada screening several of his films, including his latest, “The Real Thing,” his first adaptation of a comic book, and an official selection at Cannes.

Fukada says independent Japanese filmmakers have a hard time, even those collecting accolades abroad. Japanese government support for films is minimal, he said, a fraction of the funding in South Korea or France. Theaters in Japan are controlled by major studios looking for blockbusters. In contrast, South Korea and France pool a portion of ticket sales to support independent filmmaking.

“Japan has no systemic way to support the film industry,” Fukada told reporters recently at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Tokyo.

Take agrees making films in Japan is so difficult he fears the best actors and crew will flee to working abroad. He found the environment for working for Netflix, in contrast, wonderful.

Take acknowledged “The Naked Director,” whose hero makes pornography films, has been slammed as misogynist but he defended the work as “a challenge” to raise questions.

“It’s a challenge to depict how women have been oppressed. We want to show more respect for the women,” said Take.

He stressed the main character had respect for the actresses, and the second season, which he is working on now, will show “how despicable and ignorant all the men were.”

“This is such a worthwhile, and very difficult, challenge. We may get criticized, but films should not avoid this challenge. And they can’t be made otherwise,” Take said.

___

Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter at https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Entertainment, AP Online Movies News, APOnline Celebrity News
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Tokyo festival opens with grueling boxing 'Underdog' film
Masaharu Take’s films have always focused on painful stories about Japan’s “under-class,” people who are often overlooked in a nation stereotyped as monolithically well-to-do
2:47AM ( 14 minutes ago )
Fitting finale: Dodgers win title, lose Turner to COVID-19
Justin Turner was removed from Los Angeles’ 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 6 after registering Major League Baseball’s first positive test in 59 days and wasn’t on the field as the Dodgers began enjoying the spoils of a title earned during a most unusual season
2:36AM ( 26 minutes ago )
Cashed Out: Rays manager roasted for pulling Snell in Game 6
Rays starter Blake Snell was pulled in the sixth inning by manager Kevin Cash in a decision that could live in infamy in Tampa Bay
2:33AM ( 29 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Trump heaping attention on 1 Nebraska district
President Donald Trump is heaping attention on Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District in the home stretch before Election Day
9:26PM ( 5 hours ago )
The Latest: Harris says: Don't let pandemic 'disempower' you
Kamala Harris is rallying voters in Las Vegas a week out from Election Day, urging people to make a “special effort” not to let the circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic “disempower anybody.”
9:19PM ( 5 hours ago )
The Latest: Trump campaign says website briefly 'defaced'
President Donald Trump’s campaign says its website was “defaced” on Tuesday evening
8:28PM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
Final 'Miss Peregrine' novel to be published in February
We’ll soon be saying farewell to peculiars, non-peculiars and ymbrynes
2:00PM ( 13 hours ago )
Can I celebrate Halloween during the pandemic?
Health officials say Halloween traditions should look a little different this year to reduce the spread of COVID-19
3:05AM ( 23 hours ago )
Paris train attack hero makes bid for Congress from Oregon
In 2015, Alek Skarlatos and two friends thwarted an attack by a gunman on a Paris-bound train, a dramatic and heroic action that was made into a movie by Clint Eastwood in which the trio starred as themselves
2:47PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Movies News
The Latest: Trump says he's getting husbands back to work
President Donald Trump has a new message to suburban women as he campaigns in Michigan: “We’re getting your husbands back to work.”
5:57PM ( 9 hours ago )
Melania Trump slams Biden, Dems in first solo campaign stop
Melania Trump is slamming Joe Biden, Democrats and the media as she campaigns for her husband in Pennsylvania
5:17PM ( 9 hours ago )
The Latest: Pence campaigns in S. Carolina to boost Graham
Vice President Mike Pence made a campaign stop in South Carolina with a week until Election Day, in part to help boost Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham
5:16PM ( 9 hours ago )
APOnline Celebrity News
Fitting finale: Dodgers win title, lose Turner to COVID-19
Justin Turner was removed from Los Angeles’ 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 6 after registering Major League Baseball’s first positive test in 59 days and wasn’t on the field as the Dodgers began enjoying the spoils of a title earned during a most unusual season
2:36AM ( 26 minutes ago )
Cashed Out: Rays manager roasted for pulling Snell in Game 6
Rays starter Blake Snell was pulled in the sixth inning by manager Kevin Cash in a decision that could live in infamy in Tampa Bay
2:33AM ( 29 minutes ago )
Asian stocks mostly higher despite worries over virus cases
Asian shares mostly recovered from an early decline on worries about rising numbers of virus infections and Washington’s inability to deliver more aid to the economy
2:33AM ( 29 minutes ago )
Pompeo brings anti-China roadshow to Indian Ocean islands
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is bringing the Trump administration's anti-China campaign to Indian Ocean islands considered particularly at risk for what American officials allege is Chinese exploitation
2:10AM ( 51 minutes ago )
Tanzania votes for president amid fears of violence, fraud
Voters in Tanzania are going to the polls for a presidential election that the opposition warns is already deeply compromised by manipulation and deadly violence
1:43AM ( 1 hour ago )