Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Tokyo Fist (4 Stars)

On the surface this looks like a film about boxing. It's actually about a love triangle between three people who all hate themselves on different levels.

At school Tsuda and Kojima were friends. When a girl in their class was murdered by a gang who wanted to rape her they swore to get revenge. Kojima trained to become a boxer so he could beat up the gang, but Tsuda didn't make any efforts. The police arrested the gang before they could get revenge. Kojima blamed Tsuda for their failure. After school they never spoke any more.

Ten years later they meet again by chance. Tsuda is a meek insurance salesman who lives with his fiancee Hizuru. Kojima lives in a small, barely furnished apartment. Kojima has become a skilled professional boxer, but he's unable to win fights. When he has the advantage he holds back instead of delivering the knockout punch. It's like he wants to be punished for the failures in his past.

Kojima flirts with Hizuru, but she rejects his advances. Then he taunts Tsuda by telling him he's had sex with her. Tsuda tries to beat Kojima up, but he doesn't stand a chance. Hizuru despises Tsuda for losing the fight, and she despises him even more for attempting the fight. After a series of arguments Hizuru leaves Tsuda and moves in with Kojima.

Has Kojima won the girl? Yes and No. Like in his boxing matches, he's unable to claim his prize. They live together, but they never have sex.

The lives of the three people change dramatically. Tsuda takes up boxing, partly to get revenge on Kojima, partly to win back Hizuru's respect. Even as a beginner he shows a killer instinct which Kojima doesn't have. Hizuru warns Kojima that Tsuda will kill him one day.

Hizuru deteriorates into self hatred. She cuts her hair short, dresses less elegantly – eventually in rags – and begins to pierce herself. First it's innocent piercings like ear rings. Then a nose ring. Then a nipple piercing. Eventually she inserts thick metal bars beneath her skin. She wants to learn boxing as well, but she does it secretly. She practises by hitting a wall.

Kojima was already in a bad state when the film began, but he sinks even further. He loses any self-confidence he had left, and Hizuru makes it worse by mocking him when he loses fights. The only way he can make himself feel good is by beating up Tsuda in sparring practise.

This isn't an attractive film. It's an ugly film. By the end all three characters have destroyed themselves, physically and mentally. I can appreciate that it's a good film, but it's very difficult to watch.

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