Acacia / アカシア-
Antonio Inoki (Bad News Bears Go to Japan), a bit of a gentle giant, plays Daimanjin, a retired wrestler ending his days in a appropriately character-filled danshi in Acacia. Befriending Takuro (Ryoga Hiyashi), who ends up being dumped into his care by his absconding mother (disappearing mothers being mandatory in contemporary Japanese movies), he develops a clichéd and rather wooden relationship with his young charge. Inoki himself is a real life wrestling legend and the filmic elegy to him misses the boat by a long shot. Director Jinsei Tsuji slathers on the half-baked sentimentality even more egregiously than your general Japanese weepy. Inoki, whose larger than life persona may have worked in the big ring comes off embarrassingly flat on the big screen. The screenplay, also written by the director goes through some plot gyrations that are so bad they’re good. To note is the absent father who can only communicate his inner feelings through a ventriloquist dummy. Even on paper it sounds ridiculous. In the film it made this reviewer gape in wonder.
Originally published in EL Magazine, June 2010