films seen
14
average score
3.14*
nationality
Japan - 73 years old
status
Alive and kicking
more info

An accomplished filmmaker whose work only got better with the years and who always brings something unique to the table. Harada's oeuvre is a downright must for everyone who fancies himself a fan of Japanese cinema.

The good stuff

The Suicide Song

by Masato Harada
Densen Uta
2007 / 128m - Japan
Drama, Mystery
The Suicide Song poster

I was pleasantly surprised to find a very accomplished yet eclectic film hiding underneath the cover of ghosts and suicides.

Inugami

by Masato Harada
2001 / 106m - Japan
Fantasy, Thriller
Inugami poster

A very mysterious and sensual look at a small, Japanese mountain town. Miki is a spinster whose life gets turned upside down when a young teacher is hired from outside the village. With a strong soundtrack and cinematography, some neat twists and a couple of baffling moments, Harada delivers something really special.

Solid pieces

Sekigahara

by Masato Harada
2017 / 150m - Japan
Drama, War
3.5*/5.0*
Sekigahara poster

Kakekomi Onna to Kakedashi Otoko

by Masato Harada
2015 / 143m - Japan
Comedy, Drama
3.5*/5.0*
Kakekomi Onna to Kakedashi Otoko poster

The Emperor in August

by Masato Harada
Nihon no Ichiban Nagai hi Ketteiban
2015 / 135m - Japan
Drama
3.5*/5.0*
The Emperor in August poster

Chronicle of My Mother

by Masato Harada
Waga Haha no Ki
2011 / 108m - Japan
Drama
3.5*/5.0*
Chronicle of My Mother poster

A very solid drama. The title is pretty self-explanatory, Harada aims for a film that falls somewhere in between the work of Yamada and Koreeda and succeeds rather well. A strong cast, pretty cinematography and nice, subdued drama turn this into a quality production. Nothing you haven't seen before, but prime filler.

Bounce Ko Gals

by Masato Harada
Baunsu Ko Gaurusu
1997 / 110m - Japan
Drama
3.5*/5.0*
Bounce Ko Gals poster

The ideal film to watch back to back with Anno's Love & Pop. In Bounce Ko Gals, Harada presents his take on Japanese Kogal/engo-kosei culture. Young school girls selling themselves to lechers were a big thing in the 90s, it's not surprising then that several directors took this as inspiration for their films.

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Lisa is a girl on her way to the US. She saved up some money, but right before her plane ticket expires she hopes to make a quick buck in Harajuku. During a video shoot she is robbed by the Yakuza, leaving her stranded with just the ticket. Raku and Jonko, two regulars, decide to help Lisa out and call in some favors to earn Lisa's money back.

Harada proves himself a capable director. The film isn't as experimental as Anno's, but the overall quality is higher. The performances are strong, the camera work is vibrant, and the characters are an interesting bunch. Harada blends the culture exploration well with the narrative and delivers a warm, captivating, slight disturbing drama.

The inoffensive

Killing for the Prosecution

by Masato Harada
Kensatsu Gawa no Zainin
2018 / 123m - Japan
Mystery, Crime
3.0*/5.0*
Killing for the Prosecution poster

A plot-driven but pleasantly directed crime/mystery that digs its claws deep into the Japanese justice system. Harada is a competent director and the cast does a fine job, but in the end the film doesn't really excite enough for a higher score. A little too dialogue-heavy for my taste, but certainly not a bad film.

The Choice of Hercules

by Masato Harada
Totsunyûseyo! Asama Sansô Jiken
2002 / 130m - Japan
Thriller
3.0*/5.0*
The Choice of Hercules poster

An interesting take on the classic hostage thriller. Rather than focus on the criminals and the hostages, Harada singles out the administrative hell hole that opens up when local and national police corpses are forced to work together to defuse the situation. A bit long and a little scruffy in places, but Harada is a fine director and delivers an amusing film.

Spellbound

by Masato Harada
Kinyu Fushoku Retto: Jubaku
1999 / 114m - Japan
Drama
3.0*/5.0*
Spellbound poster

Harada is the ideal man to bring a somewhat stale and dry subject to life. This financial/political drama/thriller could've easily turned out to be a stuffy and unimaginative recount of true events, instead, we get a relatively riveting and captivating film that entertains from start to finish. It's far from his best work, but it is definitely worth seeking out.

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The capture of a high-ranking Yakuza criminal opens up a can of worms. He reveals a connection between the Yakuza and one of Japan's biggest banks. Once the cat is out of the bag, a large-scale investigation is launched. Kitano is one of the lead investigators, a righteous Pitbull who'll leave no stone unturned to find out the truth.

Harada's direction is animated, and the cast is superb. It's still not quite enough to get it close to a personal favorite, but making a 2-hour financial thriller somewhat thrilling is already a pretty big feat in an of itself. Harada is one of those directors who deliver quality no matter the genre he works in, Spellbound is no exception.

Worthy but flawed

Climbers High

by Masato Harada
Kuraimâzu Hai
2008 / 145m - Japan
Drama, Thriller
2.5*/5.0*
Climbers High poster

Masato Harada is a pretty big name (with an impressive oeuvre), the cast isn't anything to scoff at either. Just to say that I had high hopes for this film, but they never really materialized into something concrete. While this could've been a solid investigative thriller, it's really just an average newspaper drama.

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JAL 123 crashes and kills 520 people, the biggest single-plane crash ever recorded. Yuuki is heading the newspaper team that handles the crash, but he finds it difficult to make the right decisions. He struggles with his reporters, doesn't want to jump the gun on any unverified sources and doesn't have an easy time at home.

The actors do a solid job, Harada tries to add a bit of flair to the film, but the crash remains well out of sight and most of the film is set in the offices of the paper. The sentiment doesn't translate that well and at almost two and a half hours long, the film's a bit long in the tooth. Not his best work.

Kamikaze Taxi

by Masato Harada
Kamikaze Takushî
1995 / 169m - Japan
Action
2.5*/5.0*
Kamikaze Taxi poster

Gunhed

by Masato Harada
Ganheddo
1989 / 100m - Japan
Sci-fi, Action, Thriller
2.5*/5.0*
Gunhed poster

Dubious filler

Heartbreak Yakuza

by Masato Harada
Saraba Itoshiki Hito Yo
1987 / 102m - Japan
Crime
2.0*/5.0*
Heartbreak Yakuza poster

Early Harada. Not much to see here, except some very basic Yakuza/crime genre work. The gunslinging is a little boring, the acting is mediocre, the cinematography mostly functional and the plot as predictable as can be. No doubt the biggest Yakuza film fans will find something here, but otherwise this was a slight letdown.