×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Moon Child

A half-chaotic, half-entertaining mixture of dystopian romance, gunplay and vampirism, "Moon Child" is a futuristic fantasy-on-a-budget that, like most of Japanese helmer Takahisa Zeze's pics, would benefit from a further 30 minutes left on the cutting-room floor. Largely tailored to young East Asian auds, with whom the names of epicene rocksters Hyde and Gackt will resonate, this could have a small career on Western ancillary in a more focused version.

With:
With: Hyde, Gackt, Wang Lee-hom, Taro Yamamoto, Susumu Terajima, Zeny Kwok, Anne Suzuki, Ryo Ishibashi, Etsushi Toyokawa, Li Li-chun.

A half-chaotic, half-entertaining mixture of dystopian romance, gunplay and vampirism, “Moon Child” is a futuristic fantasy-on-a-budget that, like most of Japanese helmer Takahisa Zeze’s pics, would benefit from a further 30 minutes left on the cutting-room floor. Largely tailored to young East Asian auds, with whom the names of epicene rocksters Hyde and Gackt will resonate, this could have a small career on Western ancillary in a more focused version.

Set across 45 years, film opens with a brief prologue in Tokyo on the eve of the new millennium and then flashes forward to 2014, to a Chinese-speaking Asian zone called Mallepa. Japan’s economy has collapsed and Mallepa is full of impoverished Nipponese migrants and criminals, among whom is Kei (Hyde, from group L’Arc en Ciel), who doesn’t look a day older than at the start.

Kei, who can magically dodge bullets fired at point-blank range, pals up with 8-year-old street orphan Sho, who picks pockets with his brother Shinji and friend Toshi. Kei saves Sho and Toshi during a gunfight.

Eleven years later, Sho is a pretty-boy punk gangster (David Bowie-like Gackt, who also co-scripted), who’s a whiz with a gun, while Toshi (Taro Yamamoto, from “Go”), delivers pizza. Kei, Sho and Taro befriend Chinese gunman Song (Taiwanese singer Wang Lee-hom) when they all try to take out a Chinese mafioso, Luka (Etsushi Toyokawa).

Luka once raped Song’s artist sister, Yi-che (Hong Kong thesp Zeny Kwok, from “Glass Tears”), who’s been mute ever since, and the five youngsters form a friendship as they unite to take out Luka. Meanwhile, Sho develops a crush on Yi-che, but she’s enamoured of Kei, who turns out to be a vampire.

That’s only the halfway point of a movie so confusingly constructed that most of the viewer’s downtime is been spent working out who is who. Second half is clearer, as the cast thins out, but the pic still pays little attention to standard narrative, with large time-jumps and quiet, talky sections peppered with gun battles.

Somewhere in the mess is an almost Leone-ish tale of friendship set amid a life-and-death urban landscape, but Zeze seems unable to maintain the focus for long. Showy set pieces — well-staged, without heavy use of f/x — are clearly tailored to teenage fans of Hyde and Gackt, the latter armed to the teeth and in spectacular white duds, the former in more melancholy mode as the sad, ageless vampire.

Goro Yasukawa’s yearning, Morricone-like score plays up the friendship, with flashbacks to the youngsters’ happier days together, and a neat ending, in 2045, with Yi-che’s grown daughter (Anne Suzuki, from “Returner” and “Snow Falling on Cedars”), has a gentle wistfulness. But overall, pic suffers from trying to be too many things at the same time.

Film was shot in Taiwan, with most of the dialogue in Japanese and Mandarin.

Moon Child

Japan

Production: A Shochiku Co. release of a Tokyo Broadcasting System, Shochiku, the Mainichi Newspapers, Wowow, Mainichi Broadcasting System, Culture Publishers, the Sports Nippon Newspapers presentation of a Twins Japan production. (International sales: Shochiku, Tokyo.) Produced by Takashi Hirano. Executive producers, Morihiro Kodama, Hideshi Miyajima. Co-producers, Satoshi Kanno, Atsuyuki Shimoda. Directed by Takahisa Zeze. Screenplay, Gackt, Zeze, Kisyu Izuchi. (Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien dialogue)

Crew: Camera (color), Takahide Shibanushi; editor, Masahiro Onaga; music, Goro Yasukawa; production designer, Tomoyuki Maruo; sound (Dolby SR). Reviewed at Puchon Intl. Fantastic Film Festival (competing), South Korea, July 14, 2003. Running time: 115 MIN.

With: With: Hyde, Gackt, Wang Lee-hom, Taro Yamamoto, Susumu Terajima, Zeny Kwok, Anne Suzuki, Ryo Ishibashi, Etsushi Toyokawa, Li Li-chun.

More Film

  • Avengers EndGame Trailer

    ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Marvel claims the top spot in spending with “Avengers: Endgame.” Ads placed for the superhero film had an estimated media value of $6.28 million through Sunday for 927 national ad airings on 39 networks. (Spend figures [...]

  • Oscar OScars Placeholder

    Netflix Can Chill: Academy Rules No Change in Streaming Oscar Eligibility

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will not change eligibility rules for Oscar, despite speculation that streaming companies might see a crackdown on their release practices should they vie for the coveted trophies. A board of governors meeting on Tuesday voted to maintain the status quo, that any feature-length film can be considered [...]

  • Aniara review

    Film Review: 'Aniara'

    Each year brings an example or three of purported “thinking person’s science-fiction” films, a category that pretty much embraces anything not centered on monsters or lightsaber battles. These efforts are often more admirable in theory than result, but “Aniara” — the first film drawn from Nobel Prize-winning Swedish poet Harry Martinson’s 1956 cycle of 103 [...]

  • Avengers: Endgame

    'Avengers: Endgame' Reviews: What the Critics Are Saying

    It’s been a long year for Marvel fans since the release of “Avengers: Infinity War,” but the wait is nearly over. The finale to the Infinity Saga is here, and while most diehard fans will know to avoid them for fear of spoilers, early reviews are mostly positive. Last year’s “Infinity War” took home an [...]

  • American Made

    'American Made' Plane Crash Lawsuits End in Settlement

    The producers of the Tom Cruise film “American Made” have settled all litigation surrounding a 2015 plane crash in Colombia that killed two pilots. The settlement resolves pending suits in both California and Georgia. A notice of settlement was filed in Santa Monica Superior Court on Monday. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. The [...]

  • Avengers: Endgame

    Film Review: 'Avengers: Endgame'

    SPOILER ALERT: The following review contains mild spoilers for “Avengers: Endgame.” The culmination of 10 years and more than twice as many movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Avengers: Endgame” promises closure where its predecessor, “Avengers: Infinity War,” sowed chaos. That film — which revealed that the cookie-cutter uniformity of all those MCU movies had [...]

  • Avengers: Endgame

    'Avengers: Endgame': Why a $300 Million Opening Could Be Impossible

    “Avengers: Endgame” is preparing for a staggering debut between $250 million and $268 million in North America alone. Unprecedented anticipation surrounding the Marvel juggernaut has some particularly optimistic box office watchers tossing around even higher numbers, estimating the superhero tentpole could clear nearly $300 million in ticket sales in its first three days. If any film [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content