Toronto Japanese Film Festival 2021: Our Review of ‘Blue (2021)’

Toronto Japanese Film Festival 2021: Our Review of ‘Blue (2021)’

Director Keisuke Yoshida puts his thirty years of boxing experience into a film that has at least four interesting characters. But he mostly focuses on two. The first is Nobuto Orita (Ken’ichi Natsuyama), a better boxing assistant coach than he is in the ring. The second is Kazuki Ogawa (Masahiro Higashide), who juggles boxing with his girlfriend and his health.

Most people assume that the boxing world, or the world in general, is inherently competitive. So its interesting to see a character like Orita who takes his losses in stride. Another character who’s kind of like him is Tsuyoshi Narazaki (Tokio Emoto). Narazaki basically cowers at the idea of going pro, but of course, the film gives him reason to.

The three actors are convincing both inside and outside of the ring. Those outside scenes matter more here because they expose the decisions that these characters that affect their boxing in some way. This is also the second sports film of the festival. And Blue has its own way of displaying the human body’s capabilities and, more importantly, limitations.

This film seems like it was going to take unconventional steps in depicting these character arcs. But during the third act, Yoshida does for more conventional tropes. Match scenes have that mix of quick shots inside and outside of the ring. And it seems like it doesn’t know what to do after the trio have their first matches in tandem.

There are also going to be some viewers who will not believe in Narazaki’s third act fighting spirit. I have my own reasons for not wanting that change to happen. Specifically, that his ‘I wann lie down’ energy v But through him, the film argues that there’s a competitive side in anyone. It also tells us to appreciate everyone’s passions.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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