by Chris MaGee
The Japanese film industry is in dire condition at the moment, there's no arguing that fact, and as much as film lovers like myself and you out there would love to hold onto the idea that film is art (it definitely can be) it is first and foremost a business. Business is bad so the Japanese studio execs are appealing to nostalgia and public curiosity by remaking and re-imaging every manga, anime series and classic film under the sun. We've already seen big screen adaptations of 70's anime series "Yatterman", the recent big budget reboot of "Space Battleship Yamato" and unnecessary remakes like Toho's take on Yoshitaro Nomura's 1961 classic mystery "Zero Focus". What more can the Japanese film industry recycle? Well, as we originally reported back in February the next modern classic to be tinkered with is Asao Takamori's and Tetsuya Chiba's iconic boxing manga "Ashita no Joe".
Now we can finally see what Fumihiko Sori, the man who brought us such films as "Ping Pong" and the also unnecessary Zatoichi reboot "Ichi", has done with the story of orphaned boxer Joe Yabuki and his bitter rival Toru Rikiishi. We've already seen a few teaser trailers for this production with Tomohisa Yamashita steeping into the trunks of Joe and actor Yusuke Iseya as Rikiishi, but this past week the full theatrical trailer for Sori's "Ashita no Joe" went viral amongst Japanese film and manga fans. You can check it out over at Nippon Cinema, but what's our verdict? It seems like a pretty standard remake, complete with a former pop star in the main role and an incongruous pop song playing over the action. It delivers some of the classic monents from the manga like Rikiishi pouring a glass of much needed water on the ground during his grueling training regimen, but for every moment like that we have to watch Teruyuki Kagawa in some pretty silly looking prosthetic makeup as Joe's trainer Danpei Tange.
Check out the trailer to make your own decision though. "Ashita no Joe" is set to get a Japanese theatrical release On February 11th, 2011.