Most film aficionados on this site have Netflix and regularly watch a wide variety of films . . . that are mainly American cinema. With the help of JapanFlix – an online streaming site for Japanese movies – Flixist is taking the next of many steps to branch out and make an effort to experience films from around the entire globe. Do you live outside the United States and want Flixist to focus on your country more? Speak up!
To make this adventure even more fun, Flixist’s sister site Japanator will be joining in on JapanFlix reviews as well! For our first JapanFlix review, Marcus Speer chose The Quiet Don Vol. 1: A New Chapter, which stars Yoshihiko Hakamada as the Yakuza leader’s son who flees a life of crime to instead be a quirky fashion designer. Upon his father’s death he must choose whether he’s ready to get blood on his hands or continue making women’s underwear. Not a spoiler: this is a goofy film to watch with friends and not take seriously! Keep reading for the Flixist and Japanator reviews!
The Quiet Don 1
Director: Hideo Jojo
Rated: Not Rated
Japan Release: June 1, 2009.
Imagine a map of your home town. Unless you’re Buster Bluth the water would be blue, and the land sections would be split into blocks and street lines that have subtle shades and calm colors. Now imagine that same map with a new paint job that consists of pink street lines, chartreuse homes, purple shopping plazas, and yellow navigation text. Hey, it’s still the same map, but damn does it hurt your eyes. That’s The Quiet Don, or Shizuka naru don if you’re bilingual. The main character has a story arc that works fine on paper, and there are plenty of well thought-out side characters at work, in his family, and even some within the Yakuza. From here, director Hideo Jojo decides to sacrifice every ounce of potential and make a silly movie that doesn’t take itself seriously at all; this is far from highbrow Japanese cinema.
Every scene is stuffed with over acting and lathered with silly dialogue. The larger than life reactions that take place in anime series are something I moderately enjoy, but the extent of overacting in this goes beyond a failed cultural translation and instead suggests that Jojo prefers to make movies that Japanese adolescents can watch and ridicule together on weekends much like Americans do with old Arnold or Van Damme VHS titles. If that’s what you want in a movie, then The Quiet Don sadly only delivers partially, since the action scenes leave a lot to be desired. You can add stunt doubles and fight choreographers with the costume directors and music department on the list of staff members who didn’t contribute much. Whereas the bizarre suits and terrible soundtrack add to comedic value, the lame fights don’t.
Similar to the way in which Tarantino is loved for approaching a cinematic norm and then leaping off a cliff in a different direction, Jojo once or twice sets up a decent film scene that could evoke emotions in viewers as an intermission to the abundant silliness, but nope. An interesting barber scene is filled with strange facial expressions. A cool Yakuza family flashback is executed well for several minutes but then ends on a two dollar budget crime scene that kills all of the momentum. There’s fun to be had with The Quiet Don on a boring night with friends, but there’s still no denying that it’s a terrible film.
Marcus Speer – There’s something about a film as quirky as The Quiet Don that excuses the flaws that technically make it a terrible film. Big budget or not, it’s noteworthy how a film I’m so divided about can still manage to be as oddly entertaining as this film has been. A lot of seemingly poor choices were made in the making of this film, and I’m still not sure as to which of those choices were intentional or not, but The Quiet Don manages to surprise me in thinking it’s hilariously written at some points, hilariously bad in others, and moments where I can’t really decide at all what to think anymore. You can read his full review here on Japanator! Okay – 63