Kids Return: the Reunion
PROD Kakurai Makoto
SCR Mashiko Shoichi, Shimizu Hiroshi
CAM Nabeshima Atsuhiro
PROD DES Ozeki Tatsuo
MUS Endo Koji
PROD CO Office Kitano Inc.
It’s all about intertwined fates. Remember high-school drop-outs Masaru (the yakuza) and Shinji (the boxer) in Kitano Takeshi’s 1996 film Kids Return? It was the first film Kitano made after his own near-death experience in a motorcycle crash, and the story of two apparent losers determined to get ahead both echoed Kitano’s early life and resonated with his convalescence. Now, as imagined by Kitano and directed by his former assistant Shimizu Hiroshi, we find out what actually did become of Masaru and Shinji.
When they meet after a long gap, in very inauspicious circumstances, neither is doing too well. Shinji is a failing boxer who takes part-time jobs to support himself. Masaru has just come out of five years in jail to find that his yakuza gumi is on its last legs, possibly as a result of some chicanery, and that the latest recruit is a real greenhorn. So there’s a long way to go: Shinji has to rediscover his mojo to fight for a championship, and Masaru has to sort out some underworld honour issues.
Shimizu’s visuals are less stylized than his mentor’s; he builds a broadly realistic picture of Tokyo life. The original lead actors, unknowns in 1996 but both stars now, are too old to resume their roles, so Shimizu has cast two very promising newcomers. We’ll hear plenty more of Hiraoka Yuta and Miura Takahiro.
— Tony Rayns