3 Best Movies to Watch by Takuma Otoo

Staff & contributors

Borrowing heavily from yakuza films of the past, The Blood of Wolves feels like a movie plucked straight out of the 1970s and given a slick coat of 2010s neo-noir shine. The film never tries to reinvent the recipe it's working with, but it doesn't have to when its violence is still satisfyingly brutal, its plot endlessly twisty, and its morality grey. At the center is a brash and sleazy performance from the great Koji Yakusho, whom you can never really clock as being in control or out of his depth. It might only hold special value for hardcore fans of the genre, but it provides enough solid thrills for the more casual viewer.

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller

Actor: Eiji Takigawa, Gorō Ibuki, Hajime Inoue, Issei Okihara, Joey Iwanaga, Junko Abe, Katsuya, Ken'ichi Yajima, Kenichi Takito, Kenichi Takitoh, Kōji Yakusho, Kyūsaku Shimada, Marie Machida, Megumi, Pierre Taki, Renji Ishibashi, Ryuji Sainei, Shidô Nakamura, Shun Nakayama, Takahiro Kuroishi, Takaki Uda, Taketo Tanaka, Takuma Otoo, Taro Suruga, Tomorowo Taguchi, Tomoya Nakamura, Tori Matsuzaka, Yôko Maki, Yosuke Eguchi, Yutaka Takenouchi

Director: Kazuya Shiraishi

Made to commemorate Toei Studio’s 70th anniversary, The Legend & Butterfly seemed like a good choice for this purpose. As a historical epic about the first Great Unifier of Japan, the film could have enabled the production company to show off their studio’s best in production design, set pieces, costumes, and score, through a familiar story Japanese audiences would care about. And with Nohime having a near blank slate in history, it gives enough creative freedom for the team to craft a heartrending romance. While the design aspects definitely succeeded, the romance did not. On top of this, the film’s focus on the romance takes away time, effort, and emotional resonance from the large-scale spectacular war battles that epics like these are known for.

Genre: Drama, History, Romance

Actor: Ai Mikami, Daisuke Honda, Haruka Ayase, Hideaki Ito, Hio Miyazawa, Hirotaro Honda, Ichikawa Somegorō VIII, Jun Hashimoto, Kinya Kitaoji, Kokoro Morita, Manabu Hamada, Mansaku Ikeuchi, Masato Wada, Miki Nakatani, Shuichiro Masuda, Takuma Otoo, Takumi Saitoh, Takuya Kimura, Toshinori Omi, Tsutomu Takahashi

Director: Keishi Otomo