100en no koi / 100 Yen Love
Even with a sharp script by Shin Adachi, director Masaharu Take doesn’t quite pull of the complex balance of something between an homage and a send-up of Million Dollar Baby – not quite getting the effective tragedy out of tragic-comedy. And bringing a questionable sensibility to what should be funny. The story of Kazuko (Sakura Ando), a loser taking her one shot in the boxing ring sends up the usual hero dynamic. Ando, who is being dangerously typecast for her ennui, spends half of the film as a misdirected cliché of a downbeat slacker, stuck working in a convenience store after escaping from her family and her largely unexplained dysfunctionality. Kazuko meets Kano (Hirofumi Arai), a washed up boxer and strangely unattractive individual, who needy person that she is, ends up with. This pushes her into her attempt at Rocky-ness and finding self worth. 100 Yen Love has several moments – the boxing ring scenes are great – and a lot of filler that keeps the viewer wondering what Take is up to.
Originally published in EL Magazine, December 2014