Saturday, 11 January 2020

Shudder Saturday: Re: Born (2016)

I started thinking about the plot when writing this review of Re: Born and then quickly gave up on that idea. There IS a plot, it's there and it sort of makes sense (I think), but it's just there to service the many frenetic fight sequences. This is an action film with the emphasise on momentum and violence, so let's not pretend otherwise here.

Here's all the plot I am going to give you. Toshiro (Tak Sakaguchi) is a former special ops soldier, AKA Ghost, and a number of bad people want to upset his new, peaceful life. That covers it.

Directed by Yûji Shimomura, Re: Born is a star vehicle for Sakaguchi, who helped to write the story with Benio Saeki (I say story because there isn't much dialogue here, unless you count the swish of blades, the grunts of pain, and the spurts of blood). Which means this all stands or falls on the strength of Sakaguchi's performance. Never fear, he's more than up to the task. The man is a talented physical performer, believable as someone who can stare at a shooter and walk towards them intently, ducking just as the trigger is squeezed to avoid any bullets. And just when you think he can't pull off any more incredible moves, he goes and pulls off some more incredible moves.

The action here is impressive, speedy, and unforgiving to anyone involved. Although there are a few guns, the aforementioned skillsets of Ghost renders them quite useless. That means you get people forced to approach an enemy who is just as quick and savage in close quarters as he is when given time to plan his attack. With his precision and ruthlessness, and his blades flashing and whirring around, Sakaguchi could win any major round of Robot Wars, never mind slicing and killing his way through the crowds of ill-equipped soldiers who try to take him down. But it's worth mentioning that, for all of the speed and viciousness on display here, the action is always pretty easy to flow, it's shot well, moving in and out of the fighting smoothly enough. There are times when things are inevitably a little too busy, but they are few and far between, and action movie fans will be delighted by most of the main set-pieces here. And they are plentiful.

It's hard to rate the performances of anyone onscreen here, unless we do it in terms of their killing efficiency. If we do it that way then Sakaguchi is right at the very top, of course, but then that would put young Yura Kondo (who plays his niece, Sachi) at the very bottom, which isn't fair. Mind you, it would also put Mariko Shinoda, playing a deadly character named Newt, close to the top, and that IS fair. So let's just bundle these three together for some praise, rating them in terms that either relate to their deadly skills or, in the case of Kondo, relate to them just being sweet and vulnerable.

While not quite as good as some other modern action movies that have been namechecked by people who rate this one in the very top tier, Re: Born is a hugely entertaining exercise in graceful brutality, and anyone with even a passing interest in fight scenes that pack a bit more wallop should rush to check it out.


You can buy the movie here.

Actual "trivia" from the IMDb page for Re-Born

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