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In the year 2014, Japan has collapsed economically and thus its people emigrated in large numbers and settled in other parts of the world. In a corner in Asia, there is a little street called Mallepa, a big melting pot where Asians such as Hongkongers, Taiwanese and Japanese live together. It was a place where people fought for order, food and freedom. It was there where Shou (Gackt), raised as an orphan and Kei (Hyde), who could live forever, met and became the best of friends. However, they were unable to escape from the fight for power involving gangs of different ethnicity on the street of Malepa...Written by
The two stars of the movie Moon Child Gackt (ex Malice Mizer, solo artist) and Hyde (L'arc en Ciel, solo artist) are both rock idols in Japan, so it goes without saying that my expectations were fairly low for this film heading in.
The plot is quite a piece of work. On one level it's a typical gangster picture about orphans growing up in the slums and trying to carve out a piece of the pie for themselves. And on another level it's about the transience of life and the value of happiness, which is shown to us through the presence of the vampire Kei (Hyde), who is forever trapped in his youth. Yes, there's a vampire. But the story isn't actually about the vampire, it's about Sho (Gackt).
The movie opens with Sho, his brother Shinji and Toshi as children innocently robbing a local gangster. In the midst of the retreat Sho comes upon Kei, who is burning in the sunlight, Sho takes Kei to their hideout and before you know it Kei's true nature is revealed. Flash forward a few years and we see a young Sho on the verge of manhood, and Kei, still unchanged but smiling a lot more.
The movie has the traditional three acts of a gangster picture. Predictably the first act has a happy go lucky quality to it, but all the while the director shows you glimpses of the dark clouds looming beyond. Act two is the fake smile on the frown, and Act three is the tears and redemption. As far as pacing and writing goes, I think the movie does a top notch job of trusting its character's motivations and histories. I was genuinely moved by the story.
The problem isn't with the script, the problem is with the action. The action scenes though some are creative and funny, are monotonous and unbelievable. For all the drama in the comedy/drama scenes there is very little in the action scenes. Which are so full of gun shots you're likely to get a headache. Sho walking into machine gun fire is so ridiculous it makes Rambo look plausible.
I also had a few qualms about the performances, especially Hyde's Kei. While he was good as the stranger standing aloof, or the morbid figure smiling dully, he failed to convince me of his 'curse', and he failed to step up when it came time to be dramatic. This was his inexperience as an actor showing.
Overall I think the story is such a good one that I'm willing to forgive most of the film's shortcomings. It may not be the prettiest film, but it definitely has some great shots, and great moments. You won't see another movie where the vampire is a secondary character this year or possibly any other. Moon Child is a unique experience and though it takes some getting used to, when all is said and done, you'll be glad you invested time and emotion in these characters.
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