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Sea Without Exit

The Nipponese quest for national honor is tinged with doubts about patriotism in WWII submarine drama "Sea Without Exit."

The Nipponese quest for national honor is tinged with doubts about patriotism in WWII submarine drama “Sea Without Exit.” Per template set by aircraft carrier drama “Yamato” and kamikaze movie “For Those We Love,” pic offers thrills and nationalistic fervor without any sense of wartime guilt. Below-water scenes are mildly exciting, but the above-sea-level yarn is sudsy and dull. Film did OK business when it surfaced in Nipponese theaters late last year, but has since submerged without trace.

Pic opens in 1943 as a Japanese sub, armed with new torpedoes, is attacked by a U.S. ship. The silence required to avoid enemy radar creates some tension, and also conveniently allows crew members to flashback to their college years, when a shared passion for baseball between future shipmates Koji Nimiki (Shinosuke Ichikawa) and Katsuya Kita (Yusuke Iseya) raised nationalistic eyebrows. Script subsequently follows up on Nimiki’s family and both guys’ military training, but the plot, co-written by vet director Yoji Yamada, rarely rises above the schematic. Helming and perfs are solid but unremarkable, though tech credits are watertight.

Sea Without Exit

Japan

  • Production: A Sea Without Exit Partners presentation of a Shochiku production. (International sales: Shochiku, Tokyo.) Produced by Chiaki Noji, Tetsuo Sasho. Directed by Kiyoshi Sasabe. Screenplay, Yoji Yamada, Motofumi Tomikawa, based on the novel by Hideo Yokoyama.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Katsumi Yanagishima; editor, Isao Kawase; music, Mino Kabasawa; production designer, Katsuhiro Fukuzawa. Reviewed at Vladivostok Film Festival (Japan in Focus), Sept. 17, 2007. Original title: Deguchi no nai umi. Running time: 121 MIN.
  • With: <b>With:</b> Shinosuke Ichikawa, Yusuke Iseya, Juri Ueno, Shun Shioya, Teruyuki Kagawa, Yuko Kotegawa, Tomokazu Miura.
  • Music By: