Space Travelers

Space Travelers

Rating: 9/10
Year: 2000
Genre: Action
Director: Katsuyuki Motohiro
Cast: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Eri Fukatsu, Masanobu Ando, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Ken Watanabe

Katsuyuki Motohiro's previous film Bayside Shakedown is a wonderful flick with tons of brilliant ideas and a rich story. This time, Motohiro continues to show his creativity and produced an even more inventive and maniacal film - Space Travelers.

The plot of this film is rather simple - 3 young men try to rob the bank and they develop some kind of relationship with the hostages when they are besieged by the police. What is fun about it is the direction by Motohiro, how he calculates the timing perfectly and the way he arranges the amusing/tragic elements.

In Bayside Shakedown, Motohiro already shows that he is capable of setting up a good plot and good timing for his film. He knows where to insert surprise for spectators and where to soothe them well. For instance, in the ending sequence of Bayside Shakedown, when Eri Fukatsu thinks that Yuji Oda is dead, the mood of the film drops to the lowest moment. Then suddenly, it turns out that he is only too tired and falls asleep. In this way, the mood of the film is brought up drastically in only a second. The emotion of the spectators is totally controlled by Motohiro. Back to Space Travelers, the ending sequence, when it turns from a comedy to a tragedy, just like Bayside Shakedown, the mood of the film changes drastically and it seems like Motohiro is playing around with our emotion and directing our feeling at will.

Motohiro is also good at shooting crowds. There are quite a number of characters in this film, their appearance are alloted wisely. The director succeeds in delineating all the characters vividly and bringing out their personalities in a concise way. The relationships among the characters are also well designed. We can really feel the intimate connection among them. That's why the ending scene (Eri Fukatsu weeps when she sees the huge projection screen showing the Space Travelers animation in the mall) is so touching for us.

Eri Fukatsu is probably the most impressive character in the film. Her performance is extraordinary with perfect facial expression and the right gesture at the right moment. She is also the protagonist who links all the characters together.

Although Takeshi Kaneshiro is supposed to be the protagonist of the film, and in fact the promotional poster of the film also puts him at the center, his appearance in the film is fewer than Eri Fukatsu. The portion of film assigned to him is somewhat similar to other supporting characters, which seems little strange. Perhaps Takeshi Kaneshiro is too hit in Japan, the film company wants to rely on the stardom phenomenon to attract audience and to create discourse for the film. But what I think is that Motohiro has already built up his own reputation through his previous films. Even if Kaneshiro were not in the cast, it is unlikely that the attractiveness of the film would be lowered.

The only moment I don't like about this film is the ending sequence when the group of Kaneshiro is raided by the police. The use of slow motion is too long in this sequence. Rather than heightening the dramatic effect, the overused slow motion lags the continuity of the sequence.

In conclusion, this film is remarkable and very entertaining. The creativity of the plot is also something Hong Kong filmmakers are unable to do or even conceive of.

DVD (HK version) - The image is letterbox transfer, and the sound is 5.1 or 2.0 sound. Both image and sound are ok, but it's not as superb as some other DVDs I have seen before. All the special features including the actors profile and characters background information are in chinese text, if you don't read chinese, they are useless. Subtitles are well done.

Cool guy(s) - Eri Fukatsu

Reviewed by: Kantorates