Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 15th November 2012
Releasing in cinemas across Hong Kong from 25th October 2012
Hong Kong Box Office Taking: HK$4,281,792
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“Umizaru 4: Brave Heart” feels like a much needed inspiration to the Japanese public in the face of last year’s disaster. It is not everyday where you can rehash the same themes, the same clichés, the same heroes and same inspiration and yet somehow manages to work. The forth film in the long running saga is exactly that and wins the audience without being anything exceptional.
I have lost count to the number of “Umizaru” films and TV series, but from my last recollection, this is the fourth film in a highly successfully series that began back in 2004. Kind of like in the reins of “Rocky” famed “never give up” attitude against all odds and persisting till the very end, “Umizaru 4: Brave Heart” shines through its cliché material despite being largely unbelievable and predictable. Still, the film does extremely well in capturing the audience attention and excel in creating a tense and affecting rescue thriller. Although the result is excessively miraculous, it probably uplifting for the Japanese public in face of recent disasters.
Hideaki Ito once again carries the bulk of the courage and inspiration on his broad shoulders. He is typical leading man and his stoic and strong built makes him extremely similar to Stallone’s “Rocky” character in the 1980s. There is no doubting his determination and it is this attitude that manages that gets the audience through the line. Ai Kato continues her role as the supporting wife and mother of Ito’s child, she handles the role with minimal fuss. With the focus shifted to his pal Ryuta Sato and his new fledgling love interest (played the promising Riisa Naka), the film takes provides some much needed injection of freshness. Riisa Naka (“Love Strikes!”) in particular delivers a matured performance whose quite determination and her will to survive during the ordeal provides the audience with a character they can relate towards. Ryuta Sato, on the other hand provides some comic relief and his undeniably love for Naka makes “Umizaru” very much a love story.
All in all, director: Hasumi Eiichiro does well in staying true to the series premise and the result is nothing spectacular, but effective and affecting for its material. “Umizaru 4: Brave Heart” is a perfect example of how a nation needs to unite together as a team in the time of need. It is a film that is as much about team spirit, going after the impossible, never giving up and trying against all odds. Although, there is nothing special or different about this film, but it is able to do the basics well, inspire when required and the feelings seem rather genuine. These are all ingredients as to why “Umizaru 4: Brave Heart” worked, much like how “Rocky” continues to inspire generations to come. (Neo 2012)
I rated it 6.8/10