Magazine article Screen International

Hard Romanticker

Magazine article Screen International

Hard Romanticker

Article excerpt

Dir: Gu Su-yeon. Japan. 2011. 108mins

The stylishly bloody and brutal Japanese street gang film Hard Romanticker is a knowing hark back to the days when production company Toei was a local box office leader making successful youth gang films. This new variation on the theme features a stunning lead performance by Shota Matsuda as the bleach-blond street tough who lives on the edge and is always happy to engage in a little ultra-violence.

Shota Matsuda is a charismatic lead - cool, stylish and brooding - and is the dynamic core of this freewheeling and tough crime drama.

The on-screen violence is tough and bloody but never gory, and director Gu Su-yeon's impressive film does a great job in portraying a Japanese town brimming over with sex, violence, drugs and gang warfare as nihilistic loner Gu (Matsuda) causes turmoil and desire for revenge. The film is based on Gu Su-yeon's 2001 debut novel of the same name.

Like the director (who sports the same name and favours a similar blond hairstyle) the lead character of Gu is Japanese born, but of Korean ancestry, from Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, a port town surrounded by sea on the tip of Honshu Island.

The fictional Gu. Though, is a tough loner working at a series of part time job and riding round the town on his scooter, constantly getting into gang trouble, but never shirking a fight. He is entrusted with a key to a secret stash by childhood acquaintance Shoji, a member of the Gono yakuza gang; constantly runs into tough local detective Fujita; and tries to find out why old friend Tatsu lead a raid on a rival's house, ending up beating an old woman to death. …

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