Golden Horse Fantastic Film Festival, Udine Far East Film Festival, Nippon Connection
Takayuki Yamada, Takeru Satoh, Yoshiyoshi Arakawa, Takuzo Kubikukuri, Kei Ishibashi
Ukon (Takayuki Yamada, MILOCRORZE: A LOVE STORY) has chosen to live on the margins of a society he considers superficial. He follows a code of honour which he applies brutally, according to his frequent mood swings. His only friend, Ushiyama (Yoshiyoshi Arakawa, FINE, TOTALLY FINE), is a homeless person with a serious intellectual deficit. Ukon would do anything to protect him. Together, they work in a derelict mine, under the eye of a tyrannical foreman, to find the lost gold of a shogun, which would allow the boss of the operation, a geriatric right-winger, to re-indoctrinate the Japanese youth. When Ushiyama discovers a robot at the abandoned factory in which he shelters, Ukon takes it under his wing as well, fearing the danger that society represents for such a discovery. Sakon (Takeru Satoh, RUROUNI KENSHIN), Ukon’s biological brother and a very conventional, joins them in rehabilitating the machine. Despite Robo-o’s rudimentary appearance, not dissimilar to a trash can, the three men are entirely unsuspecting of the extent of its potential.
To say that HARD-CORE is one of the strangest cinematic curiosities you will discover this year would be an understatement. This comedy-drama stained with bizarre science fiction surprises at every turn. Even as the absurdities multiply, the protagonists, portrayed by a trio of ace actors, take it all on like it’s perfectly normal — for example, donning ridiculous disguises, including Robo-o, to visit a shabby hostess bar. Filmmaker Nobuhiro Yamashita, whose affection for marginal characters was evidenced in the marvelous LA LA LA AT ROCK BOTTOM, achieves the quintessence of offbeat humour with HARD-CORE. If you’re looking for unusual cinema that makes you laugh without knowing why, you have just found that rare gem. Never before has the concept of WTF seemed so natural. – Translation: Rupert Bottenberg
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