Review: ‘Bloody Snake Under the Sun’

Music and crime provide relief from oppression in paradise in the uneven, overlong Japanese drama "Bloody Snake Under the Sun."

Music and crime provide relief from oppression in paradise in the uneven, overlong Japanese drama “Bloody Snake Under the Sun.” Actually filmed in Thailand, pic does its best to recreate ’60s postwar Okinawa where the yakuza and U.S. army dominated daily life to the detriment of local inhabitants. Film would benefit from a steadier hand, a substantial trim and perhaps even a chronological re-edit. But the novelty setting and smatterings of local folk music may tempt fest programmers to overlook pic’s obvious flaws.

Brothers Gin (Mitsuki Koga) and Ryo (Shogen) have been running scams since their post-WWII childhood, while their mother (Eri Ishida) and sister Ann (Aoi Miyazaki) struggle to make an honest living running a noodle bar. Army base shenanigans and yakuza torture scenes impede the family drama at yarn’s heart. However, sequences of locals celebrating island living, and the samisen music that plucks at their collective heart strings, recall Tony Gatlif’s gypsy movies, providing an emotional richness that the rest of pic sorely lacks. Principals give credible perfs, but Yank thesps playing army personnel are woeful. Mitsuyuki Shibata’s impressive lensing leads film’s strong tech credits.

Bloody Snake Under the Sun

Japan

Production

A Three Arrows Entertainment production. (International sales: Three Arrows, Tokyo.) Produced by Takahiro Yamashita. Directed by Yu Nakai. Screenplay, Yuchiro Tanaka.

Crew

Camera (color), Mitsuyuki Shibata; editor, Shigeru Yoshida; music, Yuchiro Tanaka; production designer, Hiroyasu Koizumi. Reviewed at Tokyo Film Festival (competing), Oct. 26, 2007. Japanese, English, Okinawan dialogue. Running time: 122 MIN.

With

Shogen, Mitsuki Koga, Aoi Miyazaki, Eri Ishida, Aoi Tatsumi.
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