Kikuchi-jô Monogatari - Sakimori-tachi no Uta
2001 / 122m - Japan
Kumamoto Stories poster


February 01, 2008


A Miike anthology with a pretty decent cast. This is one of those films that sounded pretty fun on paper, but turned out to be a real drag to watch. I'm not entirely sure how or why this project was set up, but the result is a pretty dull and badly executed mess, where only the third short provides some slivers of entertainment.

The three shorts are mostly unrelated, though linked together through the struggle of the Kyushu people from the Kumamoto prefecture. They battle both outside influences, as well as forces that are tearing them away from their homeland. Unless you're really interested in this chapter of Japan's local history, that's not a terribly interesting subject.

The bigger problem lies with the execution. The production was spread over multiple years, which explains the difference in quality between the shorts, with the last and latest being the most fun. Actors like Endo, Osugi and Takenaka usually manage to elevate a film like this, but even they look defeated. One of Miike's poorest films, certainly with a runtime that exceeds 120 minutes.