Last night, I was lucky enough to be invited to the premiere of Koichi Sakamoto’s new movie, 009-1: The End of the Beginning by the man himself. A remake of an old Ishinomori manga, the movie stars Mayuko Iwasa (Hanazakari no Kimitachi e), Nao Nagasawa (Ninpuu Sentai Hurricanger’s Hurricane Blue, Mao Ichimichi (Gokaiger’s Gokai Yellow) and Minehiro Kinomoto(Kamen Rider Accel).
The main cast and director himself, Koichi Sakamoto, took to the stage before the screening of the movie. After the normal pleasantries, the cast could speak more freely about their experiences on the making of the film. Nao Nagasawa, almost a requirement in everything Sakamoto works on now, joked that fellow cast member, Mao Ichimichi, was “so cute that I wanted to pick her up on set and carry her home“.
Minehiro Kinomoto, stated that “I actually didn’t do any action this time round“, to which Sakamoto pops in to say “I liked him that much that I wanted to include him in anyway“.
Mao did bring up Gokaiger by name, but only to reaffirm “This is in no way something you’d see on the Sunday morning Superhero Time slot“. Sakamoto expressed that he really wants female fans to like the movie as it has “lots of female action scenes“, which he certainly was not lying about.
Mayuko Iwasa was missing from the Talk Show, but joined the conversation via Skype on the big screen in costume from all the way in France, publicising the movie at French film festival. Much to the hilarity of the cast and entire audience, the hotel wifi was quite unreliable, so she could barely hear what anyone was saying.
009-1 was another creation by Ishinomori, who wrote and illustrated the Japanese manga series back in 1967. The title character is a female cyborg, working as a secret agent trained specifically in espionage for the Western Bloc intelligence organization. The movie is set in a not-so-distant future that sees Japan’s degeneration into a harsh world where the setting is split into an East and West Bloc. Being a cyborg has it’s advantages, 009-1 is equipped with super strength, agility, vision, hearing and regenerative abilities. Most famously, she has a powerful if all else fails weapon located in her breasts.
The action in the film is typically top notch quality and would hands down beat other much higher budgeted action films. Nagasawa plays a cold emotionless cyborg that genuinely feels quite intimidating when pitted against the main title character. She proves that in this movie that she is at her absolute peak of physical ability, performing impressive stunt and action work that is clearly her, and not a stunt double. The main star, Mayuko Iwasa, manages to keep up with every punch and kick, apart from when she loses the fights against Nao.
Kinomoto plays a more fragile character here, while displaying a range of personality, barely walks 10 steps the entire movie. Ichimichi returns to a maid uniform from an early Gokaiger episode, working to survive in the dystopia world anyway she can, even if it means getting her hands dirty to take care of her loved ones.
Compared to the previous movie from Sakamoto, Travellers; it’s still low budget, over-the-top (completely ridiculous towards the end), but better in aspect possible. The action is fantastic, some of the moves were almost cheer worthy, and worth the price of admission and DVD purchase. It’s a lot of fun and not to be taken seriously, even though it’s quite clearly the most mature target audience he’s aimed it for. If you’re a fan of his work on tokusatsu, this is definitely worth checking out. Just someone please, give this man a huge budget to make an original giant scaled action movie he is clearly capable of doing.
If that wasn’t reason enough to check it out, Koichi was standing outside the theatre to shake the hands of every single person who saw the movie and thanked them for coming, answering questions from fans and taking photos. I thanked him for giving me the invite and joked around about some of the aspects of the movie, to which he just giggled at.
009-1: The End of the Beginning is being shown at limited cinemas, a list can be found here. It is probable that English subtitles will be included on the home release, like Travellers.