asakusa kid, biographical film, biography, review, biopic

Asakusa Kid (2021) 

Before finding international fame for his film work and infamy for his hosting of the Japanese game show ‘Takeshi's Castle’, Takeshi Kitano was well-known in his home country as one half of the comedy duo Two Beat. This biopic depicts Kitano’s life before then, courtesy of a couple of flashbacks, when he lived in obscurity as a Japanese burlesque theatre’s elevator operator. It did however give Kitano the opportunity to observe and eventually study under the theatre’s owner, Senzaburo Fukami.

Based on Kitano’s 1988 memoir, Asakusa Kid is a touching depiction of the relationship between master and disciple. When the film eventually lands in 1972 Asakusa, we discover Kitano at a time when he was bereft of talent, listing his one skill as liking jazz. Not playing it, listening to it! Nevertheless, Fukami sees something in the awkward elevator boy and takes him under his wing, teaching him all he knows about comedy and tap dancing. Within two years Kitano’s popularity outgrows the confines of the burlesque stage. Yet he knows that if he seeks greater fame elsewhere, it will surely result in the closure of his mentor’s theatre.

Though the bond shared between Kitano and Fukami remains the film’s primary focus, it is the ancillary relationships that add weight to this slight but affecting tale.  Chiharu, a stripper who repeatedly assures Kitano that their friendship will stay platonic, sees in him a reminder of the dreams that have passed her by. Fukami’s wife Mari does all she can to keep her husband's dreams alive despite knowing full well it is a fool’s errand. Even a brief meeting between Fukami and a former student illustrates the reverence in which he is accorded and, by way of a late revelation, the true character of the man.

On a side note... while an appreciation of manzai comedy may be lost in translation, the appeal of tap dancing is universal.

Yûya Yagira, Takeshi Kitano
Yûya Yagira
Yûya Yagira

as Takeshi Kitano

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fact check, factcheck, fact vs fiction, inaccuracies, true story

No obvious factual discrepancies.

There are no scene recreations as the main body of this biopic is set before Kitano began his film career.

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