Brian Henry Martin at the movies

Wolverine's Turning Japanese

Published Thursday, 25 July 2013
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"I'm not going to Tokyo" growls the Wolverine "I've got things to do". But before he can say 'sayonara', the most iconic character of the X-Men universe is battling his own demons in the land of the rising sun.

Marvel Entertainment have created not a sequel but a stand alone Wolverine adventure which picks up after X-Men 3.

This is a miso soup of epic action with all things Japanese thrown into the martial arts melting pot. All that's missing is Godzilla warbling in a karaoke bar. The Wolverine is sure to be big in Japan but will this extra claw be a box office draw?

When we meet Logan aka the Wolverine (played by Hugh Jackman), he is living like a wild beast in the forest. Befriended by only a grizzly bear, the bedraggled mutant is haunted by nightmares and hounded by hunters. No longer wishing to be the hero, lone wolf Logan has retreated into a dark lair of memory and regret.

Enter the spunky and flamed haired Yukio (Rila Fukushima), who with her mighty samurai sword makes sushi of the thugs in the local bar. More anime than actress, Yukio has been sent on a secret mission. "I've been trying to find you for over a year" she tells Logan, revealing that her mysterious employer in Japan "is dying but he wants to say his goodbye in person".

Intrigued by this unusual last request, Logan is flown by private jet to meet the ailing Yashida (Hal Yamounchi), hi-tech tycoon and billionaire head of Japan's most powerful company. The two have met before, when Wolverine saved Yashida's life when the devastating atomic bomb fell on Nagasaki. This time the dying man wants to repay his debt before it is too late. Although world weary Wolverine is in no mood for thanks.

But there are evil forces are at work as the Yashida empire crumbles and the reluctant Wolverine is forced to unleash his claws once again. This time his enemies are not only Yakuza gangsters and deadly ninjas but perhaps his ultimate nemesis, the lethal silver Samurai.

He must also do battle without the full force of his superpowers as he is secretly stripped of his special healing factor. Now the onslaught of flying fists, bullets and arrows leaves him weakened, wounded and almost mortal. His heart is saved by the beautiful Makiro (Tao Okamoto), the endangered heir to the Yashida empire, who falls for the feral stranger. While the villainous Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova), a slithering scientist, aims to drain Wolverine of his mutant mojo.

The buffed up Hugh Jackman is as dynamic as ever as the Wolverine, reminiscent of a hairy James Bond with a licence to thrill.

Walk The Line director James Mangold hits the heights with exhilarating scenes like the claw popping scrap on top of a speeding bullet train. But unfortunately falls short with a sheep's clothing script whose dull dialogue lacks the sharpness of Wolverine's talons.

The Wolverine (Cert 12a) is on general release.

© UTV News
B. H. Martin
B. H. Martin

Brian Henry Martin is an accomplished documentary filmmaker and UTV's resident film critic, appearing regularly on UTV Live Tonight.

No matter what the film, there's a good chance Brian has seen it.

Twice.

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