Writer: Vera Blasi, David Klass (Screenplay) Shiro Okamoto (Book ’His Majesty’s Salvation’)
Starring: Matthew Fox, Tommy Lee Jones, Eriko Hatsune, Toshiyuki Nishida, Masayoshi Haneda, Kaori Momoi, Colin Moy, Takataro Kataoka
Plot: As the Japanese surrender at the end of WWII, Gen. Fellers is tasked with deciding if Emperor Hirohito will be hanged as a war criminal. Influencing his ruling is his quest to find Aya, an exchange student he met years earlier in the U.S.
Verdict: History Lesson
Story: We start by looking at horrors of the atomic bomb attack on Japan and seeing how Japan surrendered and how they left Emperor Hirohito on the protection list until they figure out what to do with him. We follow our General as he arranges the arrests with limited resources before the Japanese General complete their honour suicide. We see how General Fellers has to discover how involved the Emperor was in the war and whether he should be tried as a war criminal. While he looks for a lost love in the remains of a destroyed Japan. He has a ten day deadline; we have to see how much information he can uncover by the deadline and figure out the truth before the judgement is rushed.
If you were to take away the redundant romantic story this could actually turn into an interest history lesson. Saying that if you took that out it would end up being an hour special made for TV. After only learning the very basic story behind the truth of the World War II it is always good to see a film that helps uncover more about what happened and this does tell the audience about the aftermath of the Japanese surrender. It does show that the Americans were the heroes and how one man whose idea of respecting the traditions changed the outcome. In the end it really is just a history lesson that could have been a television special instead of an attempted big film. (6/10)
Matthew Fox: General Bonner Fellers the man given the task to figure out whether the Emperor can be tried as a war criminal. He is also trying to find a lost love who might have been a victim of the war. He has to come over odds which seem to put him in a situation he can only struggle to get through to uncover the truth. Matthew gives a solid performance but never does anything that will give you Goosebumps which is essential for real life dramas. (6/10)
Tommy Lee Jones: General Douglas MacArthur he gives General Fellers the task and expects nothing but the best from his very best General. Tommy Lee only seems to be a supporting character demanding the best from the lead, he doesn’t have much to work with but does a solid job when he does. (6/10)
Eriko Hatsune: Aya Shimada the student General Fellers falls for before the war and tries to keep in contact with during the war, we are left to wonder if she is still alive as the film unfolds. Eriko does a good job but really doesn’t have much to work with or any real outcome on the main story. (6/10)
Masayoshi Haneda: Takahashi hired to become General Fellers personal drive he is tasked with helping uncover the location of Aya. He does a good job in a supporting role where he becomes almost a friend for General Fellers, he doesn’t have much to work with and even when we get the emotional moment it is almost skipped over. (6/10)
Support Cast: Filled with Generals and other suspected war criminals we get to meet a mix of supporting characters who have helped with the flashbacks guiding our hero and now time also help the hero uncover the truth.
Director Review: Peter Webber – Does a solid job, but lacks the emotional levels required for certain scenes. (5/10)
Drama: Solid use of drama but lacks the emotional scenes which could have made the film very powerful. (7/10)
History: The look at the post war, war criminal investigation is very good but the romantic storyline ruins it all. (8/10)
Settings: Brilliant re-created settings of the destroyed Japan. (9/10)
Suggestion: This is one for the history fans out there the casual fan will not enjoy this at all. (Try It)
Best Part: History lesson
Worst Part: Romantic Angle
Believability: Based on what is meant to have happened after Japan surrendered, but the romantic angle is made up. (9/10)
Chances of Tears: No (0/10)
Chances of Sequel: No
Post Credits Scene: No
Oscar Chances: No
Box Office: $3.3 Million
Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes
Tagline: Japan 1945: General Douglas MacArthur was given a mission to decide the fate of a nation, the guilt of a leader, and the true price of peace.
Trivia: The romantic story between Fellers and Aya was entirely fictional for the film. Fellers was married in 1925 to Dorothy Dysart who accompanied him twice on his posting the Philippines, and she also went with him to China and Japan.
Overall: Interesting Lesson