Hong Kong, 2007: Shamo
Shamo is the story of Ryo Narushima, aka "Boy A", a young boy who murders both his parents and is sent to what must be the most hard core juvenile reformatory ever. I mean, this place is like Oz for kids. They also had a pretty loose definition of "kid" since most of them looked about 25. But I digress.
While there, the only thing that helps Ryo keep his sanity (his virginity was already long gone) and stay alive is learning Karate. He learns his Karate from Kenji Kurokawa, a Banryukai Karate (read that as "Kyokushinkai Karate") master who is serving life for an attempted assassination of the Prime Minister. Two years later, at age 18, Ryo is released. And that is where the real fun begins.
"Shamo" roughly translates as "gamecock", and that's exactly what Ryo is. He is a wild animal spiraling into self-destruction. It is based on a semi-popular manga, that ground to a halt midway through the series due to conflicts between the author and artist. Or something.
Well, it's a dark, gritty film. It does a great job of capturing that hopeless feeling of the manga. The acting is excellent, and the fights are really well done. They are bloody and brutal. And though done in the usual Hong Kong style, they manage to seem more realistic. They also have one of the more passable kung-fu versions of karate, if you know what I mean.
I also, for some reason, really dug the theme song. I got chills when the movie started and that song played while they showed Ryo's robe with the trade mark R flapping in the breeze.
Yes, I am going to be one of those guys who compares a movie to the original media and complains about it.
There's a few plot holes and a few things that don't always make sense. Mostly because they threw something in from the manga without the context that the manga gave. Ryo looks too old, and Kurokawa looks too young. And they left out a couple of the cooler characters and scenes.
The two fights that take place in the ring aren't very realistic for supposedly sanctioned sporting bouts. That lack of realism gives both fights a rather surrealistic feel. I admit that was a problem the manga had as well, though they at least tried to explain it better in the manga.
I can't reveal the really horrible thing about this movie without also revealing a huge spoiler. But it's kind of like they tacked a killing spree ending onto It's a Wonderfull Life. ...Only in reverse.
Fortunately, I am able to pretend the big reveal at the end never happened. If you can as well, you will enjoy this movie. If you liked the manga, or if you are looking for something different than your average kung-fu flick, this is definitely worth watching. I doubt it will make anyone's top ten list, but it shouldn't be in anyone's ten worst either. Do avoid it, however, if you don't like films with a dark, sinister feel.
eh dont wanna write what i did before...
Basically, the whole movie should have just focussed on the beginning few volumes instead of rushing to well...you know.
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