[K-20: The Fiend with 20 Faces]

I got a ticket for K-20: The Fiend with 20 Faces thinking it would be a cheesy Japanese pulp movie, and that at the very least Takeshi Kaneshiro would be gorgeous in it. I came out of it in love. With the film, that is. I was pretty nuts for Kaneshiro already.

It’s basically a Japanese swashbuckling superhero movie. Kaneshiro is a circus performer (pardon me while I swoon. No, really) who is framed as the true identity of the titular K-20, a masked supervillian who has been stealing art all over a non-WWII AU Japan. He escapes the police thanks to a band of thieves, and with their help he studies from the old masters of thievery so that he can challenge K-20 and clear his name. Pretty straightforward comic book stuff, but it was great fun. Something I enjoy about Kaneshiro is that even though he’s beautiful, he doesn’t take himself seriously; he’s forever in roles where he gets to make fun of himself, and there is pretty much nothing I like better than that. This role was no different — he wants to clear his name so he can get back to the circus! Awesome.

The whole thing is a fun, steampunkesque ride, and doesn’t feel nearly as long as its running time, even as it hits all the requirements of the genre. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that it includes an awesome lady: the fiancée of the chief inspector, who kicks ass all over the place and is the rescuer far more often than the rescued.

It ends with a genre-required sequel set-up, and I really hope it’s happening. Even more, I hope I’ll get to see it with a festival audience. This was one of the rare times where I was grateful a film wasn’t in English; I would have lost too many lines to laughter if it hadn’t been subtitled. Good times!