Scifi
Returner
.
Dir: Takashi Yamazaki
Star: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Ann Suzuki, Goro Kishitani, Kirin Kiki
Cert / Year: 15 - R / 2002
Format: DVD R2
'

The year is 2084 and humanity has been all but wiped out in eighty years of fighting against an invading alien race. The last hope lies with a girl who travels back to the present day in order to kill the alien scout and hopefully stop the invasion before it begins. Tricking hit man Miyamoto into helping her she sets out to get the alien that has been captured by the government. Unfortunately mob enforcer Mizoguchi is also after the alien and Miyamoto has a score to settle with him. With only 2 days left can the war be averted and the Earth saved.

A while ago we reviewed The One and while being impressed by the action we found it lacking in originality and it was further hampered by patchy acting and CGI. Like The One Returner is also totally unoriginal with its major plot components all recognisable from other films. Unlike The One though this features better acting and some flawlessly stunning special effects.

The story is a mix of Terminator, E.T. and Trancers. The time traveling element is straight from the Terminator school of altering the past to change the future (also used in Trancers), along with the use of future flashbacks. The aliens are of the E.T. Help me get home please type. The gizmo that slows time down is the long second watch from Trancers, and everything else is your stock Martial arts action. Ok so it's really well put together but it would have been good to see one original idea.

The direction by Takashi Yamazaki is first class. The fights easily match the elegance and style of The Matrix and Equilibrium without the over reliance on computer effects that pack both of those films. It is also notable that they do not try to emulate either of those films (apart from the long leather coat). Scenes like the fight on the ship (done many times before) and the future flash backs are impressively cool. This sense of style is extended to the other parts of the film with a few nice camera effects that are used in key places to progress the story. The only problem lies in the super sweet ending that is just a bit too happy.

As mentioned the acting is good. Takeshi Kaneshiro and Ann Suzuki make a likeable central duo with good chemistry existing between them (in a Leon sort of way). They are up against Goro Kishitani (who is having the ultimate bad hair day) and he provides a deliciously evil bad guy. He nastiness is so over the top it is almost camp but in the end it adds character to that could have been a pretty generic role.

Returner apart from being a bad name for a film is a stylish piece of Asian martial arts action. In no way is it original but good effects, direction, and acting save it from being bland. The plot is simple (you should be at least one step ahead) but the action scenes more then make up for it, it's just a shame that the ending is rather lame. Ok so there are the usual time travel paradoxes but for once they are not so noticeable. For once this is a film that cries out for a sequel, as long as you keep the central pairing and add a bit of originality you could have a cracking film.

Tagline

Who cares about the future?

Rating: 3 out of 5

DVD
Picture 1.85:1 Anamorphic Good, it handles the digital effects really well.
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Japanese (with English subtitles) or English both are very good with the dubbind being particularly impressive.
Features Trailers
Verdict An excellent transfer with brilliant language options, and just about that's it. Oh for a Hong Kong Legends release.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Back Top Home