Goro’s 400 Million Yen
This thriller brings together the all-star team of legendary Yoshimoto producer Kazuyoshi Okuyama (former head of major Japanese film studio Shochiku) and the multi-talented Yudai Uenishi. Uenishi, best known as an actor, also directs and leads a theatre group. He snatched the Best Actor Award in 2019 at the Nice International Film Festival for his lead in the film "Kanemasa," a story dealing with child abuse. Now Uenishi both stars and a takes the helm for "Goro’s 400 Million Yen," a tense drama centering on titular character Goro Haji.
Goro (Uenishi) is a day laborer in Osaka with $10 to his name. Recently released from prison he’ll take any type of job on either side of law but comes with a lot of baggage. He served time for a triple murder and has lost most memory of the incident, unable to recall why he did it. In addition he suffers collapses and possible hallucinations as he believes a person with the head of a wolf is following him.
After a black market job its clear Goro was trained as he remembers how to fight and defends a poor laborer against a pair of thugs (who, interestingly, are played by women). But he soon collapses, and in hospital social workers come to him and disclose the contact of his ex-wife, against her wishes. Upon tracking her down he finds their 10-year old daughter has a serious heart condition which requires a transplant. If the procedure is not done the girl will die, but it costs 400 million yen (about 3.5 million dollars). Now Goro dedicates himself to somehow earning the money.
Dark and edgy, the story takes place in the sordid underbelly of Japan. Dealers in body parts, prostitution and death roam the streets ruled by petty thugs, yakuza and Korean gangsters. Slowly Goro’s past, which is not that of a criminal, is revealed. He must re-engage with it to earn the money he needs, and defeat his demons.
Uenishi turns in a brilliant performance as the desperate and tortured soul, rediscovering who he is. An inventive use of graphics, emphasizing how we put a monetary value on everything, and slick cinematography add to the sense of urgency. This tour-de-force will stay with you for a long time.
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