Kurosagi movie, recap
Hey peeps, sorry for the long delay. The csubs have been out for a while but I was distracted by all the kdramas running around!
I’m going to assume people who are reading this are familiar with the traditional format of Kurosagi the drama, yeah?
Yamashita Tomohisa – Kurosaki/Kurosagi (the swindler himself)
Horikita Maki – Yoshikawa Tsurara (the prosecutor in training neighbour)
Ichikawa Yui – Mishima Yukari (annoying friend)
Yamazaki Tsutomo – Katsuragi Toshio (old puppetmaster dude, the mentor)
Aikawa Sho – Masaru Kashima (the police inspector)
Naoto Takenaka – Ishigaki Tetsu (random swindler)
Mao Daichi – Sakura (random woman)
“In this world there are three types of swindlers:
Those who defraud other people’s money, Shirosagi.
Those who deceive others by manipulating feelings, Akasagi.
And then, using the Shirosagi and the Akasagi as his only source of food, is the ultimate swindler in history.
A swindler of swindlers. His name is…Kurosagi”
It opens with a quote from Shakespeare: Life is but a walking shadow.
Then we see Kurosaki staring straight at the camera, pondering on his course of action. He does recognize that his own life is empty and shadow-like, but he is determined to follow his vengeance for his dead father through.
We see him passing through customs, then it switches to a woman and a man in a deserted parking lot, trading money for stolen cars (with license plates already switched, of course). When the woman takes off the license plate covers, they’re all the same, which tips her off to foul play.
Of course, it’s Kurosagi, swindling her. As she’s chasing him down, police arrive and he drives away safely in his truck. (For his part, swindling and imprisoning other swindlers has become a full-fledged career, and he won’t stop until every single one is behind bars.)
We see Kurosaki trying to kill Katsuragi with a katana, as his mentor is the person who enabled the swindle of his father, and resulted in his father going crazy and killing his entire family (except Kurosaki himself). At the same time, it switches back and forth between Yukari recounting the story of Julius Caesar and this shot.
The moment of tension is broken by the entrance of Katsuragi’s personal assistant, Hayasa, who raises her eyebrows and mentions something about ‘practicing for Shakespeare’. The two men break up and things seem to go back to normal. (Sidenote: I love Hayasa’s expression when Kurosaki jokingly swings the katana and ends up slicing her groceries in two.)
In the midst of all this playacting, Kurosaki thinks to himself that he’ll destroy Katsuragi too, someday. (And replace him? Bad road.)
Katsuragi sells him the information on his potential targets, and he hunts them down.
The newest is a small-time pennypincher named Ishigaki Tetsu. Kurosaki dresses up as the young executive of a conglomerate and follows him to all his haunts, including the random host bars.
Kurosaki travels (explaining the passport/airport scene) to a foreign country, meeting a little girl in a wheelchair, named Momoka, who is immediately charming and cute.
A week earlier: Her mother is in the process of being swindled by Ishigaki. Her mother created a company from scratch and is financing her daughter’s stay in a foreign hospital due to congenital heart disease.
She met Ishigaki as a fellow businessperson, and he gave her the gift of a stamp (used in sealing documents, can replace signature in terms of legality) – but then a few days later a group of people (who look like Yakuza, to tell the truth) come to her company demanding money (48 million yen) – showing contracts signed with her stamp.
Kurosaki meets with her, and explains that Ishigaki probably used the stamp beforehand and stands to gain a cut of the fees.
He sets up a fake company called Wingblade and lures Ishigaki there. (Yay engrish! So garbled… but on the other hand somewhat intelligible.)
(My ear is appallingly unused to Japanese. *smacks self* Must not neglect doramas!)
Kurosaki is posing as a successful young entrepreneur looking to take his business beyond just peddling cellphones, by using currency cards that can be recharged over the internet (?). He is given a bejeweled stamp as a parting gift.
Later that night, at a high-scale host club, Kurosaki and Ishigaki celebrate their joint cooperation. And Ishigaki is given a gift, in return.
Kurosaki shows him all the nifty tricks one can do on the gift card (never mind how he managed to hook an entire system onto the thing, nor how he managed internet banking temporarily on the card), which, among other things, allows money laundering. Huh. Naturally Ishigaki is all ‘glee’.
(Where is my Tsurara???)
Speaking of whom, the conscience of the show, Yoshikawa Tsurara, played by the fetchingly sweet Horikita Maki, shows up in the act of handing out flyers for her ex-best friend’s (according to drama canon) upcoming play, Julius Caesar. She and Kurosaki bump into each other. (Rather an overused device in the show, but hey, they have to meet somehow.)
Yukari is at her egocentric best, doing everything to twist the play to her own ends. (Um, in case you didn’t know, all the important people in Julius Caesar are male. Not so, says director/actress Yukari.) Poor Tsurara is roped into helping her 24/7.
The movie’s being rather heavy-handed with the allusions with the Shakespearian play. If they were more obvious there would be flashing neon lights and arrows.
Kurosaki takes a flyer on the way to see Katsuragi. The older man, being very interested in Tsurara as an earnest and charming young girl, takes out his own copy of Julius Caesar and savours it. There is a tense moment as he asks Kurosaki to act out someone who is betrayed by his nearest and dearest.
Katsuragi: People will always betray and deceive. They seek to gain trust only to use it in the end. That is what you are doing.
Kurosaki: Don’t sound so noble.
Katsuragi: I am surrounded by Brutuses. What a boring world.
Kurosaki then proceeds to explain to Katsuragi that he’s set a trap for Ishigaki. The money card is linked to his own internet bank account and any money he seeks to launder through that card will be like handing over cash to Kurosaki. (Ishigaki’s revealed to be quite solvent, worth around 200 million yen.)
What a clever boy, to set things up like that.
Police Inspector Kashima is called to see someone who’s died. Even though it was a brief shot, the dead guy is probably important.
Ooooh domestic scene. Kurosaki comes home after a day’s hard work and is pounced upon by Yukari, in full fangirl mode. Thankfully this girl’s attention span is about as long as her brain is large, and she flounces home.
Tsurara is embarrassed to meet him, always, and tries to escape into her own apartment but Kurosaki comes after her for the rent. (Kurosaki, when he is not off swindling society’s less reputable members, is a happy landlord of an apartment building. From the looks of it, either he only has one tenant in Tsurara, or the others are all hermits.)
He follows Tsurara into her room, where the TV is conveniently on, and forgets to take the proffered rent when he hears that a subordinate of Ishigaki was found in the water of Tokyo Bay. He calls, and Hayasa plays expositional device in explaining that the card was given to the subordinate – in need of some funds, he handed the card over to the yakuza. The money deposited and taken by Kurosaki belonged, in fact, to the mob. When they found the money completely gone, they exacted vengeance on the subordinate.
Talk of a wrench being thrown into the works.
(Somehow, Yamapi’s walking through the crowds is off. Feels like he’s too posed to be actually moving around like that.)
Inspector Kashima notes that Kurosagi must be feeling down, because his principle as a swindler is to never take lives, and here’s a swindle gone wrong with a dead person in the middle. Bla bla bla, the police need to catch him.
Kurosaki, meanwhile, hasn’t given up. He’s still hot on the trail of Ishigaki. The man has a long history of swindling, running back to 1992, and defrauded a family that made cigarettes at the time (he’s defrauded plenty of others, but we’re focusing on them because they were first). Since then, the daughter of the family has kept track of his various ploys. Ishigaki’s main strategy consisted of going after middle-sized companies, gaining their trust, then making off with the bulk of their assets in a loan – then his own company declares bankruptcy, thus getting to keep the sums he has gathered. The company he borrowed money from inevitably goes under.
It’s a pretty scary cycle that affects thousands of people at a time.
(Evil. But then I could point out a dozen more heinous types of swindling being committed in China right now.)
Then, when the various defrauded companies go to complain, Ishigaki hires a group of people to do separate jobs – to scare, to soothe, to promise help, they’re all in together.
The woman that Kurosaki gets all this information from ends by telling him that he’s the same – getting people’s trust and then pinning them down. She also adds without missing a beat that while Ishigaki’s actions are vile, there is someone behind him, tugging the strings and telling him what to do.
The smart viewers figure out it’s Katsuragi, and the others get it when the camera shows Katsuragi doing his creepo stalker thing at the set of Julius Caesar.
The voiceover of the woman continues: We are the same, you and I. We both have had our loved ones taken away by that man.
Kurosaki remembers his own father, deceived by Mikimoto, who was directed by Katsuragi. (Inspector Kashima plays expositional device and explains the details of his anguished past. Pfft. They could have made better use of the tension between Kashima and Kurosagi.)
Yes, yes, we know Katsuragi is and evil, manipulative bastard who plans ahead 20 years when most people plan 10, okay, moving on?
In one of the arguably most compelling scenes, Katsuragi lies in a coffin on the set of Yukari’s play in the dark night, while it’s raining. Kurosaki paces around the coffin with a really sharp sword in his hand, demanding answers for being manipulated like a chess piece. But he can’t bring himself to kill Katsuragi.
After he leaves the set, he wanders about the town, occasionally letting out an anguished scream and startling the passersby. In the morning he is seen visiting the zoo. He bumps into an old acquaintance, who tells him not to mope at the death nor to focus on the past too strongly.
He says that it’s human nature to soften towards someone one hates if one stays for a long time with that person. It’s just the way our brains work.
Then he offers to help regarding Ishigaki.
That same day, Kurosaki goes to hand money in to Katsuragi (information fee or somesuch), and the other issues an ultimatum: successfully swindle Ishigaki and accept being his partner, or abandon being the Kurosagi.
But it’s harder anyway, because Ishigaki now recognizes Kurosagi, and the yakuza and Ishigaki hangs out with are no lightweights.
A random domestic scene again, with Kurosaki testing out his disguise with Tsurara. At the hint of slight concern from her, he morphs into this annoying neighbour type. ^^
At Ishigaki’s company, he adopts a different kind of facade, and is so different from his formerly brash and confident self. Ishigaki does not recall him, and indeed, takes him to be an electric appliance salesman. He tries to put one over Kurosaki, and will find out how wrong he is later.
Little Momoka is given a shot at reconstructive heart surgery, but only if a certain amount of money is forwarded by the day after tomorrow. While visiting the little girl, he bumps into Sakura, the information lady, who is also a victim of swindling but tries to talk him out of this career path.
Woah. Katsuragi actually really liked Sakura? And she liked him back? And then he abandoned her? Because he had plots to tend to? Agh, my brain.
Incensed, Kurosaki stomps over to Katsuragi. He knows that he’s being used to clean up someone who isn’t listening to Katsuragi anymore, but he want to get this guy down once and for all – for little Momoka’s mother, and for the others too.
Alas, he has a time limit: in two days, Ishigaki will go to the Caribbean and presumably out of reach.
Ishigaki makes a deal with Katsuragi’s ex: if everything goes well, he’ll hand over the 50 million needed for Sakura’s surgery.
That makes things sticky, and as if things weren’t messed up enough, the police have decided to interfere, so it’s 2 hours before Ishigaki takes off, and Kurosaki’s still stuck in an elevator.
But the swindle goes through, and Sakura gets her operation money. (He leaves it under a tree.)
(It involved alot of searching around, getting promissory notes, and nifty cellphone gadgets. Beyond that, I won’t say.)
He and Katsuragi play their little tension game, but he’s resolved to be Kurosagi until the end of time. Thus, Mikimoto comes back and doomish music plays. Katsuragi is all glee at getting to keep his puppet for a little while longer. Kurosagi’s just like: You killed my father, prepare to die.
- Movie not the best, but not the worst either. What made the drama really fun – Kashima’s conflicts with Kurosaki, and Tsurara’s interactions and providing a grounding for him, were really glossed over. It was a movie about a glorified hoax.
- It doesn’t do justice (nor does it resolve) a lot of issues.