Review: Smuggler-Sumagurâ: Omae no mirai o hakobe (2011)

Smuggler-Sumagurâ: Omae no mirai o hakobe (2011)

Directed by: Katsuhito Ishii | 114 minutes | drama | Actors: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Tatsuya Gashûin, Masatoshi Nagase, Hikari Mitsushima, Masanobu Andô, Hitoshi Kiyokawa, Shôta Matsuda, Ren Ohsugi, Yôhachi Shimada, Masahiro Takashima, Ryushin Tei

Japanese director Katsuhito Ishii caused a furore with ‘Taste for Tea’ and also showed with ‘Funky Forest: First Contact’ that he is capable of making a more than bizarre film in which the story is secondary to the film experience. His movies are full of idiotic characters. Delicate souls better ignore his films. If you are talking about explicit violence, you can take an example of ‘Smuggler’. The violent scenes are not only shown very roughly, but slow-motion is also used, so that, for example, the blow with a hammer on the head of the unfortunate person hits it extra hard. In addition, the extensive torture techniques further increase the age of the indicator.

Hard is ‘Smuggler’ for sure, but the story itself is not optimally developed. ‘Smuggler’ consists of several chapters and is difficult to follow at times. As a result, the film doesn’t always captivate from a technical point of view. The common thread of Kinuta (Satoshi Tsumabuki) should have been given more attention because now the chapters feel more like a compilation of different scenes. Kinuta wants to become an actor, but he just can’t realize his dream. Due to his weakness for gambling, he gets lost and he ends up in the criminal circuit via via. The too brief elaboration of the various characters and their development means that the depth of character is not really present. In fact, the main character can be found one moment in the casino and the next moment included in a cleaning crew for dirty business. Although there are a number of flashbacks present, they do not add value and raise more questions than they answer.

A motley collection of caricatures is nothing new in such Japanese films; this was recently proven in a kind of ultimate ode to this in Shion Sono’s ‘Love Exposure’. Don’t be surprised if you suddenly see a homoerotic scene in ‘Smuggler’ or a fight scene in which someone moves around the room on all fours like in ‘The Exorcist’. Then there is also someone in a diaper who tortures another in the most horrific ways and then marches around the tortured in some kind of military suit. While these are nice scenes, it also proves that a strong storyline is important, because unfortunately it rarely gets really interesting.

Where ‘Smuggler’ clearly focuses on the bizarre and violent, the storyline is clearly less important. ‘Smuggler’ is a nice Japanese film, but nothing more than that.

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