Director: Yuji Shimomura
Language: Japanese (with optional English subtitles)
Cast: Tak Sakaguchi, Yura Kondo, Takumi Saito, Mariko Shinoda
Runtime: 100 minutes
Release Date: 12th March 2018
Jamie Havlin turns his attention to a film featuring some of the most stunningly choreographed martial-arts fight sequences in recent years.
A former fight and stunt action co-ordinator whose previous work includes Death Trance, director Yuji Shimomura is reunited here with one of the stars of that movie, Tak Sakaguchi.
If you have followed the career of either of these talents then you’ll know what to expect. And if you are anti-violence in movies, then I can only urge you to ignore this release.
Believe me, Re:Born contains more than a little of the old ultra-violence with countless throats being slit and necks snapped mercilessly, one big chunk of the film being an extended action sequence, a dazzling maelstrom of mayhem on a truly grand scale. There will be blood. Gallons of it.
You have been warned.
Sakaguchi plays Toshiro, formerly an elite special ops soldier whose reputation is legendary. Now the man once codenamed Ghost lives a far different kind of life, looking after adopted young niece Sachi (Yura Kondo), and running a never terribly busy convenience store in a relatively sleepy seaside town in Japan.
Sachi is, of course, adorable and adores her uncle. We first meet her as she finds a dead cat that has been run over. She picks up the animal and carries it to a deserted beach where she buries it under sand. The images of Sachi walking along the highway and then a shopping centre in her yellow oilskin jacket stained with the cat’s blood are striking by any standards.
Re:Born, though, is not a film that many will remember for its colourful visuals.
Yuji Shimomura and Tak Sakaguchi along with action choreographer Yoshitaka Inagawa collaborated here to create a new technique of close quarters brawling which they have named Zero Range Combat. This is a method of high intensity battling at close quarters where a range of curved daggers (and even a shovel) can be utilised. Clashes tend to rapid-fire and utterly ruthless.
Obviously the plot of Re:Born plays second fiddle to the fighting and, as in most movies of this nature, some pretty sustained suspension of disbelief is required, especially when Toshiro – in an effort to rescue his kidnapped niece – is drawn into a deadly conflict with his former commander, a mission that sees Toshiro and two cohorts take on a huge army of enemies sent to kill them, including a deadly assassin, played by Mariko Shinoda, last seen in Sion Sono’s Tag.
Martial arts and action movie aficionados will absolutely lap this up, but I did have a big problem with Toshiro’s attitude to Sachi being kidnapped – although I shouldn’t say any more due to potential spoilers.
Despite this, I must say that not once during the extended action sequence did my interest wane. Re:Born is highly watchable even if the acting isn’t of the highest order and the plot, at best, average.
For more on the film: https://www.eurekavideo.co.uk/classics/reborn
All words by Jamie Havlin. More writing by Jamie can be found at his Louder Than War author’s archive.