Director: Shinsuke Sato
In China, during the Warring States period – that’s a five-century-long war between the six Chinese kingdoms, Shin and Hyou, two child slaves of the Qin kingdom, dream to become the greatest generals of China. A few years later, Hyou is enlisted by the King Es Sei’s emissary to become his double, whereas Shin continues to train on his own with the hope to get out of his slave status. But when Hyou returns mortally wounded by the king’s brother troops – the latter having fomented a coup against his brother to prevent Shin from helping the king – Shin decides to avenge him and to prove his worth in fighting the renegade king.
Adapted from a worldwide best-seller manga – that was also successfully adapted in an animated version that grossed $30 000 000 in the Japanese box office – Kingdom is the Festival blockbuster! Live action films aren’t the most popular and the most faithful adaptations but Kingdom won many national awards (8 Japanese Academy Prizes). Let’s see what this film, which had its French premiere on Tuesday 13 October, is worth!
Let’s start straight away, Kingdom lives up to the expectations. Served by an award-winning cast of Japanese film stars, this adventure set in fantastic feudal China is rich in colors and characters. We see amazing landscapes and the characters seem tiny compared to the rich and mysterious universe surrounding them. Little by little, we discover a kingdom with mysterious inhuman creatures and sometimes humans with mystical powers.
Unfortunately, the film doesn’t seem to have had a European distribution and that’s a pity because we get a glimpse of a whole culture and a founding history of China that’s unknown in France and more generally in Europe.
The music gives an epic dimension and accentuates the power and grandeur of certain characters. The armies are really well-depicted, the fights are very well orchestrated, the movements are sometimes almost impossible to execute in real life but it instills more fear in the opponents’ hearts.
The scenario seems simple but it’s a real adventure and revenge story. We can quickly identify with the character. We rediscover the spirit of the manga for teenagers and young adults, which praises surpassing, courage, team spirit and bravery against evil.
Be careful though, the script and the main character can sometimes be irritating with an over-motivated and sometimes over-played character and humor can also sometimes be hard to perceive.
All in all, Kingdom is a good action film that may even make you want to know more about the universe. This live action film is for me a breath of fresh air, as this kind of adaptation is often disappointing (bad special effects, bad scripts, stereotypes,…).
Mainstream and children-oriented, it won’t come as a surprise to know that a sequel is already in the pipeline. In the meantime, you can savour this film on Friday and, at long last, indulge yourself to a real live action movie. Quite rare in these days, isn’t it?