Eiga Sai started last July 6 at the Shang Cineplex of Shangri-La Plaza and will last until July 15. Since the first day was a Friday, still a working day for us and a school day for the kids, we decided to watch the following day, Saturday July 7, and intended to catch the 2:00 pm film entitled Ninja Kids (a live-action adaptation of a Japanese manga about little boys training to be elite ninjas and how they handled the situation when a real assassin shows up in the home of a fourth grader).
But unfortunately, the queue for that particular film was already closed when we got there. So we end up falling in line for Tomorrow’s Joe, (a live-action adaptation of a popular manga about two boxing rivals pitted against each other to determine their fate) scheduled at 4:30 pm.
Eiga Sai (映画祭) means Film Festival. It is an annual Japanese Film Festival organized by The Japan Foundation and is usually the opener for the Philippines-Japan Friendship Month. This is a free film-showing of Japan’s best documentary and feature films. The films are subtitled with English so you have to read the dialogs if you want to understand what is happening in the movie. However, my kids had no complaints as they are used to that, just like watching anime in YouTube.
Several people fall in line early and wait for several hours just to secure a ticket for each movie. We had to wait for three hours for our turn to watch the movie. Only one ticket per film can be given to a person at a time, so you must fall in line again after finishing one movie. No reservations are entertained so as to accommodate as many viewers as possible. My kids wanted to watch more than one film so it was heart-breaking we had to give them the bad news.
Tomorrow’s Joe, or Ashita No Joe in japanese, is originally a critically acclaimed boxing manga written by Ikki Kajiwara and illustrated by Tetsuya Chiba in 1968 that was later adapted into an anime series and now a live-action film starring popular actor and singer Tomohisa Yamashita as Joe Yabuki and Yūsuke Iseya as Toru Rikiishi. The movie premiered in Japan on February 11, 2011. Outside Japan it is also referred to as Rocky Joe or Joe.
It was a long wait so we grabbed the camera and took pictures of just about everything around the Cineplex just to pass the hours.
It was evident that I had too much time that I even took pictures of the menu signage of the Shang Cine Bar. Well, its helpful if you want to have an idea of the prices of the snacks and drinks.
So there’s a new CGI animated movie coming soon entitled Brave brought to you by Disney Pixar.
..and Ice Age 4: Continental Drift, upcoming fourth installment of the Ice Age franchise made by Blue Sky Studios and distributed by 20th Century Fox.
We discovered an exit door at the end of the cinema where you could go out and smoke or sit at the tables outside. But the heat of the sun was too much so we only took some pictures for a short while then immediately went back in to where the air-conditioning was.
The heat outside was really unbearable so back to taking more pictures inside the mall. This time focusing on the architectural splendor of the mall’s interiors.
My kids got hungry from all that waiting and doing nothing so I was tasked to buy us some snacks. Since there were very few and poor choices, not too forget to mention expensive as well, at the Shang snack bar and from the nearby food stalls, we opted to go to the food court at the basement instead.
The kids were all yapping about the new KFC Cheese Top burger that they’ve been seeing on TV lately so that was our “prime directive”. These commercials are really working especially for the kids who always want to try out the latest product offering eventhough I personally believe that it was an unorthodox, if not a stupid idea, of putting the cheese on top of a sandwich. But we always fall for it, especially when the kids do all the clamoring.
I really had to look inside the wrapping of the burger to see what it actually looks like. My curiosity got the best of me and tried out one while my youngest was eating a one piece chicken with rice plus drinks combo meal.
We were suppose to buy just the burgers but I just couldn’t refuse my youngest who asked for a rice meal also. Sometimes I am hating myself because he really needs to go on a diet already. He is on his way to becoming obese due to being over-spoiled and pampered.
The burger was not as appetizing as how it was advertised. The cheese on top was thin, just like the burger bun and patty themselves. Isn’t there anything we could do about these false advertising schemes? We are all getting ripped off and there has been no significant move to stop these deceptions.
The taste was also not something worth the time and effort to go back for more. The Garlic Parmesan dressing does not satisfy my craving.
Nah…this product is poorly thought about and doesn’t make burger-eating More Fun in the Philippines. The fifty pesos price, eventhough it comes with a regular drink, does not do justice to be called streetwise.
The rest of the Cheese Top burgers we brought to my wife and other kid waiting patiently back in line. Also bought some Bibingkinitan that we passed by along the basement food court. I was hoping if it would taste like the Bibingka that we eat during the Christmas season. The funny thing was, the small rice cakes also had cheese on top (just a strip though). It was affordable enough for twenty pesos a piece, though there is no discount if you buy a box containing a half dozen. Later I found out its fair enough to compete with the bibingkas I grew up with as a child. I just don’t know if there’s already a variety with salted eggs on top.
My other kid also said it was tastier than the Cheese Top burger.
Finally, the long wait was over and we were now inside the cinema. After a few movie trailers of the new James Bond movie Skyfall, a teaser for the part 2 of Despicable Me, of the new Jason Bourne movie Bourne Legacy, Batman Rises, etc, the feature film was now showing.
The most interesting in the movie was the concept of cross-counter boxing which Joe used to quickly become a famous elite boxer until his final match with pro-boxer Rikiishi whom he earlier had a duel while they were both in jail doing time for different offenses. Their fight in prison was the reason why both had made extreme efforts to excel in the boxing field both eager for a match to settle once and for all who really is the best boxer between them.
Joe, a wandering delinquent, had an ex-boxer trainer named Danpei Tange who taught him some boxing techniques, but Joe had other techniques of his own. Tange built him a Gym where he could train, and later on succeeded to fight among the the pros.
It was not ideal for kids because there were too many scenes of blood and distorted faces enough to get noticed and put my kids in awe. It was the first thing that my kids commented when we got out of the cinema. …and since we were all very much familiar with Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao, being the Filipino pride in boxing, it felt like it was nothing new for us as we’ve seen Pacman rise from being an unknown boxer to what he is right now: a rich influential and famous person.
My kids were wondering why Joe never got rich from some of his winnings. The movie never showed that angle if Joe won a considerable amount from his initial winnings. I am a lost for words because it was so complicated to explain to the kids whose impression was all boxers were to become affluent and famous just like Pacman the boxer, and Congressman, of the Philippines.
The movie was like Sylvester’s Stallone’s Rocky, though I do not know which came first. It was the classic underdog sports movie set-up: talented, but raw young hero is turned from zero into hero with the help of an eccentric coach. (Hhhmmm, just like Karate Kid). However, Rocky was an earthy drama that fashioned a realistic world with strong characterization. The viewer isn’t just waiting for the next fight; they are emotionally involved in the narrative and the people that inhabit it. Tomorrow’s Joe’ doesn’t allow for the same emotional investment in its characters. The movie cannot match the gravitas seen in Rocky and often doesn’t seem to try, favoring a direct transfer from comic strip to screen without any of the depth that Manga work can often deliver.
It is undoubtedly entertaining for a few hours or so, just don’t expect it to resonate beyond that.
Below are the schedules of the Film Festival:
Other screening venues include Gaisano Grand Citimall, Davao (July 20 to 22), Ayala Center Cinema 4, Cebu (August 7 to 12) and UP Film Institute (August 15 to 21). For a complete list of schedules, you may visit the Japan Foundation, Manila website.