Review: Hard Luck Hero (2003)

Directed by:
Cast: , , , , , , ,

Not available in Australia on DVD (to our knowledge)

The synopsis basically describes the whole movie, apart from the fact that this film was apparently intended as a short, music video-style, offering. Well, like Topsy, it grew.

Not much can be said about it. If you like V6, as did the screaming hordes of girly-fans at the premiere I attended, then you’ll find it rivetting. If you like lots of fast car action, you might like it as well. It’s not the best of Sabu’s work: there’s a near-repetition of the entire film, as if Sabu got to the end of his script and discovered only 45 minutes of film in the can.

Mind you, that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it. Far from it: I had a great deal of fun, undeterred even by the shrieking of names as each young heart-throb appeared on screen. It’s pretty hard to not enjoy a Sabu film, really: he has a talent for quirky setups, and offers little vignettes in the background that work like in-jokes for everyone quick enough to spot them.

And it must be said the boys did quite well. It didn’t hurt that they already had a vast log of experience standing in front of cameras, dancing in unison, wearing clothes, and generally being young, manufactured, giga-stars. It also didn’t hurt that Sabu, always the auteur, crafted characters for them that matched their own traits, so that any deficiencies in their talents wouldn’t be too obvious.

In addition, the boys were supported by that marvellous character actor, Terajima Susumu. If you’ve seen a Japanese film, chances are you’ve seen Terajima. Previous performances include Sonatine, Ichi The Killer, and Hana-bi. He’s a favourite of Sabu and Miike Takashi, he works constantly, and he’s always, always good. Seldom a leading role, but always good. And when your young stars have a director like Sabu and a legend like Terajima helping them out, they’d have to do something extremely gross to ruin the film.

Luckily for us, they don’t. Hard Luck Hero may not be a classic of world cinema, but it doesn’t try to be. And, working very strongly in its favour, it has the quirky Sabu touch, it has 6 Japanese giga-stars, and it has the inestimable Terajima, whose presence graces so many fine and not-so-fine Japanese films. Well worth a look.

7.5 well-polished young stars out of 10.
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