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Opening Date
20 Jun 2019
PG13 Some Violence
134 mins
Japanese with English subtitles
Shinsuke Sato
Kento Yamazaki, Ryo Yoshizawa, Masami Nagasawa, Kanna Hashimoto, Kanata Hongo, Shinnosuke Mitsushima, Takao Osawa
Set during the warring period in ancient China, Shin (Kento Yamazaki) is a war orphan who dreams of becoming the greatest general under heaven. One day, he has a fateful encounter with a young man Eisei (Ryo Yoshizawa), the true heir to the Qin kingdom throne. Together, they seek to reclaim Eisei's throne and unite the Warring States under a single banner. KINGDOM is the live-action adaptation of the manga series of the same name.
By Flora  20 Jun 2019
Japanese war adventure, Kingdom, adapted from the best-selling manga, manages to capture the highs of a war epic, as well as the protagonist’s dramatic lead-up to the ultimate battle. 
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Japanese war adventure, Kingdom, adapted from the best-selling manga, manages to capture the highs of a war epic, as well as the protagonist’s dramatic lead-up to the ultimate battle. 

Based on the manga by Yasuhisa Hara, the film stars Kento Yamazaki as Shin and Ryo Yoshizawa as Hyou, two war orphans who grew up in a peasant village with big ambitions to be great generals of their country. Growing up, the two developed a strong bond, helping each other to fulfil their dreams together. One day, imperial soldiers appear at their doorstep, wanting to recruit Hyou to the court of King Eisei (Yoshizawa). It turned out that Hyou was only wanted for his resemblance to King Eisei, to be a body double in case of an assassination. Fatally-wounded, he tells Shin the whereabouts of the King, in hopes to protect him from potential threats. 

Throughout their journey back to the palace, they help each other out, joined by a host of colourful allies including You Tan Wa (Masami Nagasawa) and Ka Ryo Ten (Kanna Hashimoto), a petite villager who waddles in a bird-like costume. 

The film is somewhat based on historical events that happened in China, set right before the Warring States period (475 BC). Like most war films, the lead-up to the ultimate battle is where the main bulk of the story takes place, with the fight that determines if the three-quarters of your time was worth it. Fortunately for Kingdom, it does. There is more of realistic swordplay and close-combat fights as compared to CGI-heavy action, which is much appreciated since we are looking at a war epic as compared to a sci-fi flick. 

The chemistry between the two male leads - Yamazaki and Yoshizawa is worthy of a mention, as both, thought a stark contrast in characteristics, have somewhat an unspoken brotherhood that translates well on camera. As Shin is more of the rash and reckless one of the two, there are more over-the-top outbursts from him, as with most of the characters in Japanese film adaptations. However, there are moments where it comes off as annoying and childish, especially for an adult who aspires to be a warrior - to the point that Shin’s behaviour becomes a laughing stock - whether it was actually an intentional or unintentional humour. 

The supporting characters such as You Tan Wa and Ka Ryo Ten are great additions to the ensemble, especially You Tan Wa who leads a tribe of mountain villagers who uses unconventional methods to win a war. Much like a David and Goliath narrative, the underdogs usually win the battle through underrated means and it goes the same for this. Talking about supporting characters, Great General Ouki played by Takao Osawa exudes a sense of gravitas whenever he appears on screen as the smiling General. Despite the oversold worshipping of him and cringe-worthy dialogues at times, his character - though minimal - leaves a deep impression. 

The highlight of this historical manga-to-movie epic is its well-choreographed fight scenes - be it a small-scale combat fight to the ultimate takedown of King Eisei’s brother that involve thousands of people. It attempts to steer away from heavy-loaded CG effects that you would expect from a film of this genre, which brings out the authenticity and severity of a battle of that era. 
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