Director: Gekidan Hitori
Writer: Gekidan Hitori
Starring: Yo Oizumi, Yuya Yagira, Mugi Kasowaki, Nobuyuki Tsuchiya, Ayumu Nakajima, Yūsuke Furusawa, Honami Suzuki,
Before Takeshi Kitano became an internationally acclaimed director and actor, he was, and remains, one of the most popular comedians in Japan. Outside of Japan, he is probably most well-known for Takeshi’s Castle. His autobiography, Asakusa Kid, was first published in the late 1990s, chronicling his rise to fame and success during the 1970s and the second adaptation of his book has just been released on Netflix globally.
The film is a reflective look at the beginnings of Kitano’s (Yuya Yagira) career as an elevator boy and then comedian at the strip club France-za in Asakusa. He is taken on by the owner and comedian Senzaburo Fukami (Yo Oizumi) as an apprentice, where he learns not only to tap dance, but tell jokes and take command of the stage. Not getting the audience he wants, Kitano leaves the club in search of his own success, much to the dismay of his master.
Asakusa Kid is a beautiful and moving biopic that not only shows you the beginnings of Kitano’s career, but also acts as a tribute to his teacher. This is a shared film about both of them. Fukami’s career is in decline, even before Kitano first takes the stage. People aren’t going to the club as much anymore and those that do aren’t interested in the comedy. Fukami can see the potential in Kitano and wants him to thrive, while at the same time keep the dynamic they have. It’s almost like a father/son relationship. Kitano’s actual parents are barely mentioned, instead he looks up to the older comedian.
You get really invested in their lives, very quickly. Yo Oizumi is absolutely perfect as Takeshi Kitano, he’s incredibly likable and manages to make the jokes funny when on stage. You want him to succeed and thrive. Yuyu Yagira is exceptional as Fukami, there’s a confidence that oozes from him as he teaches his apprentice how to tap dance and the fundamentals of comedy. It’s a really touching performance that is really moving throughout the story.
There are so many great scenes. There’s a scene with tap dancing in the elevator that looks magical in the way it’s presented. Director Gekidan Hitori gives certain moments a flourish of magical realism to really heighten it. There’s also bouncy and energetic music that moves throughout. As Kitano becomes more successful, he goes back to Asakusa to see his old master, and they have a touching reunion.
Even without really knowing who Takeshi Kitano is, or much about his history in comedy, Asakusa Kid, is still a touching and moving biopic. It gives you a real sense of who Kitano is and will make you want to learn more about him. It’s a truly emotional and inspiring story.
Thanks for reading! If you liked my review, please subscribe to never miss a post: