Despite his popularity in the West, I’m not a fan of Takashi Miike. The extremely prolific auteur has cranked out over 90 feature films in his 24-year-or-so career. Known mainly for hyper-violent works like Ichi the Killer, torture dramas like Audition, or tongue-in-cheek brutality like the Dead or Alive series, the director’s made just about everything else too. The comedy-drama-musical-horror The Happiness of the Katakuris was a hit in Japan and internationally. Miike even crafted one flick I liked: The prison drama Big Bang Love: Juvenile.
However, you wouldn’t expect him to make a heartfelt tearjerker about a doctor doing good in the world—which he did. Doctor Kōichirō Shimada (Takao Ōsawa) goes off to work at a research center in Kenya, but is soon drawn into frontline hospitals treating child soldiers. When he finds a boy who’s seen his parents slaughtered and is crazed with anguish, he dedicates himself to the physical and psychological healing of these kids.
Based on Masashi Sada’s 2013 novel, the work is melodramatic, a bit sappy, and straightforward. Still, it’s great to see Miike try something so earnest. English title: Lion Standing Against the Wind. (139 min)