K-20 - The Legend Of The Black Mask 2008

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(14) IMDb 6.8/10
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Japanese superhero adventure from writer-director Shimako Sato. Imagining an alternative past, the action takes place in a Japan of 1949 where WWII never took place. In order to achieve world domination, arch thief K-20 - 'the fiend with 20 faces', sets out on a plan to steal the latest energy beam generator created by renowned inventor Nikola Tesla. To divert attention, he frames a lowly circus performer Hekichi Endo (Takeshi Kaneshiro) to take the rap for his crimes. When Endo is sentenced to death and subsequently escapes, he realises that in order to bring the thief to justice and clear his name, he must take on K20's identity and get to the generator first.

Starring:
Takako Matsu, Toru Nakamura
Rental Formats:
DVD, Blu-ray

Product Details

Discs
  • Feature ages_12_and_over
Runtime 2 hours 12 minutes
Starring Takako Matsu, Toru Nakamura, Takeshi Kaneshiro
Director Shimako Sato
Genres Thriller
Studio ANCHOR BAY
Rental release 10 January 2011
Main languages Japanese
Subtitles English
Original title K-20 - Kaijin Niju Menso Den
Discs
  • Feature ages_12_and_over
Runtime 2 hours 12 minutes
Starring Takako Matsu, Toru Nakamura, Takeshi Kaneshiro
Director Shimako Sato
Genres Thriller
Studio ANCHOR BAY
Rental release 10 January 2011
Main languages Japanese
Subtitles English
Original title K-20 - Kaijin Niju Menso Den

Customer Reviews

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Baywatchfalconer on 18 Mar 2011
Format: Blu-ray
K20-The Legend of The Black mask is a Live action Manga film. A cross between Batman, Zorro & Robin Hood,it stars Takeshi Kaneshiro (House Of Flying Daggers,Warlords & Red Cliff). Set in an alternate reality where Japan wasn't in World War 2.A masked bandit called K20(or the fiend with 20 faces)is robbing from the rich and frames a circus acrobat (Takeshi) With the help of his eldery friend who makes gadgets, he goes undercover to stop K20 and to give money to the poor.
Its quite a long movie,running at aprox 2 hours and 20 minutes and in Japanese with English Subtitles. Martial Arts fans could be disappionted as there's really no martial arts action in the movie. With a really good story,plenty of 'Free Ruinning',acrobatics and fab special effects K20 is a very enjoyable movie. The Blu-ray is stunning with crisp & colurful visuals,cystal clear HD sound and a fab in depth making of feature.Reccommended viewing,especially if you are a fan of action adventure movies and of course the gorgeous Takeshi Kaneshiro!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ian Williams TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 15 April 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
It's Japan 1949. Because Japan struck a peace deal with the UK and USA there was no World War 2 and Japan is now a rigidly stratified society of have and have-nots. Its peace is only threatened by the master criminal, the Man of 20 (and probably a lot more) faces, K-20. Determined to steal a machine, invented by the Nobel prizewinning Nikolai Tesla, which broadcasts cheap power but he wants to use for destruction to make him the most important man in Japan, as part of his schemes he sets up our hero Heikichi Endo, a circus acrobat and illusionist, to be framed as K-20.

Phew!

I loved this film. Based on either novels or manga (I'm not sure which) which have been popular for some time in Japan, it's directed with a feminine sensibility by Ms Shimako Sato who also wrote the screenplay. What this means in that there's a lightness of touch, a hero who is compassionate (he helps feed locals orphans living rough) fallible good-humoured and masculine without being macho, there's an element of humour and understated romance. There is also plenty of action. When Endo is broken out of prison by local thieves, he is given a book on how to become a master thief. The various elements play to both his intelligence and skills and involve a lot of parkour (the French sport of leaping around buildings) and provides everything he needs to challenge K-20.

The other main players, apart from the masked K-20 and Endo, are Baron Kogoro Takechi the senior police officer in charge of the K-20 and his fiancee Duchess Yoko Hashiba who seems to have reservations about her impending marriage. When Endo rescues Yoko from the clutches of K-20, he takes her to his world, a place of deprivation that Yoko never knew existed and which immediately sparks her social conscience.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 13 Aug 2011
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
K20: The Legend of the Black Mask is that increasingly rare beast, an almost entirely satisfying superhero film - and an even rarer one that's written and directed by a woman, Sato Shimako. No relation to the Hong Kong Black Mask series, it's set in a 1949 Japan where WW2 never happened and the ruling military elite still vigorously enforces a rigid class system that leaves the poor to fend for themselves but is constantly plagued by master criminal K20, the Fiend with Twenty Faces. A cross between Arsene Lupin and The Shadow, he's no hero even if he does wear a cape. He may come from the underclass, but he wants to tear down the old order to create a new elite of his own and isn't too particular about who he hurts doing it.

Set against him are Toru Nakamura's aristocratic detective, Takaku Matsu's `modest girl from a nice family' (given a bit more moxey than the usual romantic lead in this kind of film) and Takeshi Kaneshiro as the none-too-bright circus performer set up to take the wrap for K20 so he can retire, only for his escape to force the master criminal to change his plans and the acrobat to learn K20's tricks so he can fight fire with fire to clear his name. This being a period piece the stakes are a hidden device created by Nikola Tesla that could be a source of great energy or a terrible destructive weapon, and its location can only be discovered by stealing a reproduction painting and breaking into a heavily guarded military installation to x-ray it which, along with a couple of enjoyable training sequences, provides the big setpieces.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By dynes on 2 April 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Very good recommend this film to anyone who likes action and martial arts films or super hero films top marks from me
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. F. Khan on 4 May 2013
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
K-20 grips you right from the off and then promptly wanders off for the first hour. Like a 2 year old wandering round the house it takes a while to make up its mind but an hour in the movie settles in nicely and the actual film begins. The problem is that K-20 immediately casts its hook for a certain audience but then abandons them. In film, the opening hook also telegraphs the kind of film it will be and the type of audience it's pitched at. Begin a film with, say, Freemasons in a ritual and you save a little legwork by setting the tone and explaining that you'll be going slow and explaining carefully. Begin a film referencing Tesla, and you need to assume that your audience will keep up with you and make connections a little faster than the crowd watching National Treasure.

What's frustrating is that K-20 has all the ingredients for a strong film, yet the director insists on making us sit through an hour of poorly written dialogue and embarrassingly transparent plot to get to what is arguably the better film within. In this respect K-20 joins a list of similarly well-meaning but poorly executed films such as The Shadow or The Punisher. Still it's a joy to watch, by turns funny, exciting and even touching and at the end entertains which is all you can ask for. The film is beautifully shot and has lavish art direction with some sets rivalling Lynch's Dune. The acting is good and the humour is subtle, easily a PG rated film for the family. The disc itself has few unremarkable extras but has a pleasing bitrate of around 24.on average

As a side note, if like me you recognise your film soundtracks, K-20 merrily steals from Back to the Future,s main title, the airship ticket sequence from the Last Crusade and the birthing sequence from Branagh's Frankenstein. I'm all in favour of referencing old films and paying homage to classics but at times you get a certain sense of schizophrenia watching this film.
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