Hard Romanticker

Shota Matsuda goes bad in a gritty, spectacularly violent drama

Hard Romanticker

©HARD ROMANTICKER Production Committee

Directors: Gu Su-yeon
Starring: Shota Matsuda, Kento Nagayama, Atsuro Watabe

Barely a few minutes seem to go by in Hard Romanticker without someone getting smacked in the gob, raped or beaten. This vaguely autobiographical dust 'em up by Gu Su-yeon draws on the director's experiences growing up as a Zainichi Korean in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi, and on this evidence the city must rank alongside Mogadishu in terms of unpleasantness.

Shota Matsuda plays Gu, a peroxided delinquent who can't seem to stop making other people want to kick his ass. After a couple of his cohorts inadvertently kill a North Korean tough's grandmother, Gu becomes a target himself, though his quick temper and propensity for violence quickly earn him a fresh set of enemies. Even when he lands a job managing a hostess club overseen by Shido Nakamura's yakuza lieutenant, there's clearly only so long this irascible young rebel can go before his luck runs out.

For a while, Hard Romanticker more than passes muster as a gritty drama in the vein of vintage Takeshi Kitano, laced with enough roughshod humour to make its frequent spurts of violence feel a bit more bearable. With his ice-cool demeanour and drainpipe trousers, Matsuda at times resembles his late father, and Gu is no less nihilistic than some of the characters Yusaku played. Too bad that it all comes unglued towards the end, flaking out with a conclusion that's both anticlimactic and more than a little incoherent.

Hard Romanticker is released nationwide on November 26

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By James Hadfield
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


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