Thursday, March 31, 2011

SP : The Motion Picture | SP野望篇 [ Movie Review ] ★★

The Pitch

The SP here stands for Security Police and it centered around the trials and tribulation of a team of Japanese politicians bodyguards. SP first found life as a TV series (3rd Nov 2007 to 26th Jan 2008) and like many popular Japanese TV drama series these days, SP was made into 2 motion pictures (this being the first one and a second one that's likely to be heading to Singapore cinema eventually).

The most interesting aspect of this movie (for someone who have not caught the drama series) would be that this movie topped the Japanese Box Office for 3 weeks (from 30th Oct to 14th Nov 2010)* and the follow up movie SP: The Motion Picture II is currently at the top too ( 3 straight weeks from 12 Mar to 27th Mar 2011)*. It's intriguing to find out what the drawing power that this franchise got on the Japanese audience that make them come back for more.

(* Box Office Information from )

The Plot

For the uninitiated, SP: The Motion Picture basically introduced a team of Japanese politician bodyguards. The focus here lies on the team leader, Soichiro Ogata (Shin'ichi Tsutsumi / Suspect X) and one of the member Kaoru Inoue (Junichi Okada). Inoue stood out from the rest with his special "ESP" abilities to remember stuff, detect traps and even premonition. Needless to say, as the protagonist, he would go above and beyond the call of duty.

The plot thickens when Secretary General Kunio Date (Teruyuki Kagawa / 20th Century Boys series) gathered a group of politicians from various departments for a meeting to create crisis that would unite the Japanese citizen. Among the group, Ogata been tasked to carry out the plan and attempted to recruit Inoue for the sinister cause.

It's not hard to figure out how would the hero react to such invitation. Before he got time to ponder more about Ogata's unexplained cause, an emergency occurred and his team had been tasked to protect another Secretary who was making his way to the Prime Minister house. Let's just say that it won't be an easy mission for the hero and his team mates.
The Perspective

As someone who going into this movie without any knowledge of what happened in the TV series, it's relatively easy to get up to speed. Although one might not know the significant of certain character that died in the TV series, it's easy to figure out the plot setup and characters' motivation.

This movie also focused on how the Security Police protects the various politicians from potential harms. But in a strange way, it did too much of "securing" for it's own good. The movie gets bogged down by one security mission after another. It's not only bland (just imagine following a security details around), it does nothing to advance the story and there were plenty of loopholes in their operations.

The most glaring loophole would be how the security team would choose to hand to hand combat when they have other form of weapons with them. It felt like a blatant attempt to show realistic take down that security forces might use. While the fight scenes look different from the usual exaggerated kungfu fight scenes, it felt that the security operation had been stupefied so that they can show the audience how they whack people with their bare hands.

Last but not least, Inoue was quite a boring and tedious character to follow. He got all these supernatural powers that makes him a super bodyguard. It's almost impossible to surprise him when he could see into the future or detect what's round the corner. But the power are wasted in a manner that even when he detects that something is wrong, he would usually react a moment too late. Kinda negated his special abilities most of the time and it makes one wonder why give him special powers in the first place when it doesn't do much for his character or the story.

As the first part of two movies, SP: The Motion Picture failed to entice me to catch the second movie. In fact, it felt like a telemovie that didn't deserve the cinematic treatment. It also felt like if it had remove the introduction arc (for newbies like me), the movie would probably have enough screen time to get to Secretary General Kunio Date's big sinister plan. Perhaps there's more in the TV series and folks who had watched that might appreciate this movie more but right now, it's doing nothing to interest me to the TV series or the 2nd movie.

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