K-20: The Fiend with Twenty Faces
Takeshi Kaneshiro's K-20: The Fiend with Twenty Faces
Holy Steampunk, Sherlock Holmes! Screen idol Takeshi Kaneshiro is back and this time hes showing his respect for Lupin, Raffles and all the great thieves and masked penny dreadful heroes of the turn-of-the-century in this massive steampunk blow-out directed by Shimako Sato, one of the few female directors in the big budget end of the Japanese film industry.
Its 1949 and World War II never happened. Nikola Tesla has just won a Nobel Prize rather than dying in obscurity and the Japanese Empire is an undying aristocracy where the rich sip tea out of bone china, while the poor die in the gutters. K-20, the Fiend with Twenty Faces, steals from the rich and gives to himself. But now, on the eve of the marriage between society princess, Yoko Hashiba, and chief of police, Kogoro Akechi, the fiend frames simple circus acrobat Hekichi Endo (Takeshi Kaneshiro) for his crimes and the poor sap is arrested and sentenced to death. But he escapes at the last minute and assumes the guise of K-20 in order to clear his good name.
Starting with a falling chandelier from PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and continuing with the Tunguska Explosion, Tesla coils, gyrocopters and all manner of pulp touchstones, this flick is constantly zooming, panning, gliding and skidding to a stop, suffused with old fashioned showmanship and skill. For sheer entertainment value its like all the Saturday morning matinees you never saw wrapped up in one film and given a big budget gloss. But more than the skill and style, the actors are a delight. The young princess, Hashiba (Takako Matsu) describes herself as just a modest girl from a good family, but really shes a two-fisted adventurer in waiting, hemmed in by good breeding but secretly yearning to sock a baddie in the jaw and fly a helicopter into the sunset. Takeshi Kaneshiro is charm itself, and its a pleasure to spend two hours in his company. By the time the last zeppelin has cleared the screen youll want to know where you can buy a ticket and stand in line to wait for the sequel. [D-Man2010]