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4.1 out of 5 stars
17
4.1 out of 5 stars
K-20: The Legend Of The Black Mask [DVD]
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on 30 June 2015
This is the way a manga movie should be, good story, good steam punk style effects and lots of action. On the action note there are more acrobatics and Parkour style chases than actual fights in this movie, but that is ok. Most of all this movie is fun to watch.

In this movie World War 2 never took place to the A-bomb was never dropped on Japan. There are two class the rich and the poor there is not real in-between. There is no "official" movement between classes. The only sign of rebellion is K-20 the Fiend of 20 faces. He is a master thief, a master acrobat and a master of disguise/illusionist. He can be anybody; he steals from the rich and gives to himself. A young circus performer Heikichi Endo, played by Takeshi Kaneshiro, is hired by a newspaper to take pictures of an upcoming wedding of the Princess and the local hero super cop. Getting caught Endo seems to have all the attributes of K-20 so he is pronounced as K-20 and arrested to close the case. Escaping with the help of a thief ring, he must learn all the secrets K-20 know so he can fight him as an equal if he has a chance of clearing his name, and stop K-20 from his end game.

Well worth watching. My wife, who always make fun of me for watching martial arts and Eastern movies, was impressed with Takeshi Kaneshiro's acting and managed to sit through it without complaining. This is a good fun and great entertainment.
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on 18 March 2011
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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VINE VOICEon 15 April 2011
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. So we have a three-hander, plus master villain K-20 always waiting in the wings to strike.

There's lots going on in this film which is always fascinating and holds the attention for its two-hour running time (note: not the 2hrs42 it says on the DVD case). The special effects are great, the action is wild, the acting is everything it should be. Don't let the fact that it's subtitled put you off. This is a great action movie with elements of science fiction, super-villainy, comedy, romance, social conscience. Apart from some minor swearing it's fine as family viewing albeit not for younger kids who wouldn't be able to follow the subtitles anyway. That caveat to one side: highly recommended. Trust me, you'll love it.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 August 2011
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.

The production design is pleasingly detailed, alternating grandiose art deco, grubby industrial landscapes and lived-in poverty, and the film takes the time to flesh out its characters a bit more than expected, ensuring the human element is never entirely overlooked. Most of the CGI effects are impressive enough for the few bad ones to stick out like a sore thumb, the action fun if not as frequent as you might expect in a film running 137-minutes. Only the final stunt is a bit of a letdown, but not enough to spoil the fun and the goodwill the film leaves in its wake. If it ultimately ends up being another origin story of sorts, it's an entertaining enough one and the characters are likeable enough for you to want to see them back on the screen again

Manga's Blu-ray offers a fine 2.35:1 widescreen transfer with optional English subtitles with a making of and cast and crew introductions from the film's premiere as extras.
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VINE VOICEon 12 February 2012
From the cover and description I figured that K-20 would be an exciting, swashbuckling, steampunk, alternate-history high adventure. I thought it would be a cross between Arsene Lupin and The Shadow. But it's not. It's long and quite laborious, with not much pay-off.

Set in a mid-20th century Japan where WWII never happened and where social classes are not allowed to inter-marry, K-20 is a thief and a master of disguise (think of the Mission: Impossible with the rubber masks) who steals inventions and artifacts (though we never actually see much of this happening). I figured he'd be the hero but he's really the antagonist. He sets up Endo, a humble circus performer, to take the blame for his crimes and disappear. But Endo and his fellow peasants are not about to just accept this injustice.

With such an expansive premise, K-20 does little with it's potential. At 137 minutes I've seen film almost half it's length with more more action. It's not much of a caper, it's not much of an adventure. This should have/could have been an epic, but it just ain't. The backdrop is lovely when they make the effort, but more often than not the sets are too low-key and in other wider shots they forgot to hide the fact that it's clearly shot in the present day. The subtitle translations are sometimes inconsistent too.

The Blu Ray looks good in 2.40:1 1080p with DTS HD-MA sound. A small amount of extras are included.
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on 4 May 2013
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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on 2 April 2013
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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on 23 August 2014
Excellent if like me you like Asian Films and Dramas. As with all Japanese films, always exciting, always sad, and always full of action and I love Takeshi Kaneshiro who has appeared in many Chinese, Korean and Japanese films.
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on 26 April 2012
there's a lot of this for an avid Japanese cinema enthusiast. Besides that it's a good action film with good action. If you're expecting the character on the front and the name of the film to be the hero, like I was, you'd be mistaken. Takeshi Kaneshiro- the protagonist- is in fact a different character, although may be not by the end of the film. Without giving too much away of the story Kaneshiro is framed as the famed thief K20, this results in all those he holds dear. As a result Kaneshiro must train with a group of thieves and become strong enough to capture the real K20 and clear his name.

This is a good film, well directed with some interesting cinematography.
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on 17 May 2012
Very good take on an alternate history after the World War 2, which Japan and Germany won in this flick. Takeshi Kaneshiro is a circus acrobat wrongly accused of being a famous thief K20. He ran from the prison and tries to clean his name and discover the secret of the mysterious box and Bruegel the Elder painting The Tower of Babel. And also the secret of Tesla's new invention, which might destroy the whole world. Great actions scenes, endearing heroes, very believable alternate history.
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