With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Thursday, September 05, 2013

ACF 2017: THE APOLOGY KING - a report from the U.S. premiere

© 2013 "The Apology King" Film Partners
The Apology King / Shazai no Ō-sama
Directed by Nobuo Mizuta
Screenplay by Kankurô Kudô
Japan, 2013, 128 minutes
Japanese with English Subtitles

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the US premiere of The Apology King. It's the third and latest collaboration of director Nobuo Mizuta, screenwriter Kankurô Kudô, and comic actor Sadao Abe. Previously they made Maiko Haaaan!!! (2007; my April 2008 review of Maiko Haaaan!!! can be found here) and No More Cry!!! (2009). For personal reasons, I unfortunately was unable to stay for the entire screening, so I can't really write a review of the film. But I did get to see about half of it, really enjoyed what I saw, and want to share that with you.

Abe plays Yuzuru Kuroshima, a "professional apologist" who works, not out of an office, but out of a restaurant/tea house. His Tokyo Apology Center offers assistance to those who must make a most sincere apology for some sort of transgression or other. In Japan, the highest apology is a formal obeisance known as dogeza that is performed by getting on ones knees, putting ones hands on the floor in front of you, and placing your forehead on the floor (or ground). But Kuroshima knows many variations on apologizing, including ones that transcend even the formal dogeza, and can thus advise and assist his clients in getting out of very sticky situations.

Yuzuru Kuroshima (Sadao Abe) and his assistant Noriko Kuramochi ( Mao Inoue)

The movie consists of six cases, of which I saw the first three. Case number 1 involves Noriko Kuramochi (actress Mao Inoue), a hapless young thing who does major damage to a car belonging to a yakuza. She is so impressed by the way that Kuroshima saves her from some very unpleasant consequences that she decides to work for him as his assistant. The second case involves a young male worker at a manufacturer of undergarments for women; he needs to make an apology for sexually harassing a comely female coworker. Case 3 concerns a the divorced parents, both actors, who must apologize for the criminal behavior of their son.

A lot of the comedy is physical, something at which Abe excels and which transcends any and all language barriers. The audience at the U.S. premiere, including yours truly, laughed often and loud. I was truly enjoying the film and was so sorry that I could not stay. Consider me hereby performing a digital Internet dogeza.

Here's the trailer for The Apology King which, even without English subtitles will give you a pretty good idea of the hilarity presented:

The Apology King was shown at the Fantasia Festival in Montreal last month, and will open in Japan on September 28th, 2013. I don't know if the film will receive any kind of theatrical release in the United States, but I certainly hope that it will. In either case, perhaps there will be a Region 1 DVD from VIZ (who put out Maiko Haaaan!!!) or another distributor. Here's hoping. The Apology King is a film that those who like Asian cinema, or just comedy, deserve the chance to enjoy.