by Chris MaGee
It's been a very, very hard time of late for comedian Itsuji Itao. It was just short of a month ago that the 46-year-old star of such films as "Air Doll" and "Tokyo Gore Police" lost his 23-month-old daughter after she mysteriously collapsed at home (read our original article here). Because of this I was a bit surprised to see the trailer for Itao's directorial debut, "Itsuji Itao’s King of the Escape" at Nippon Cinema. Obviously this was completed prior to his tragic loss, but to think that Itao will have to face a press junket ahead of the film's January 2010 release while still reeling from his loss kind of boggles the mind.
Regardless of this the trailer itself looks mighty interesting. Based on the real-life escape artist Masayuki Suzuki dubbed the Datsugoku-o, or "Jailbreak King" the film follows Itao as he seemingly slips out of every prison that tries to hold him. The fact that Itao co-wrote "King of Escape" with actor Shoichiro Matsumoto (Versus, Love My Life) and director Yudai Yamaguchi (Battlefield Baseball, Meatball Machine) is very promising, but what really struck me about the trailer is just how many of Itao's co-stars from his 2003 jailbreak film "9 Souls", directed by Toshiaki Toyoda, share the screen with him in this film - Koji Chihara and Jun Kunimura being the main two. We can only hope that this film ends up being as good as its trailer, although I fear that it's upcoming release will be very bittersweet for Itao.