I had to check myself a number of times whilst watching Kingdom. It’s the first film in quite some time that I’ve watched in a number of sittings having been unable to get through it all the first time round.
Some of you may not find that so strange, I hear from a few people who take a few attempts to sit through a whole film. For me though, it’s definitely not the norm.
But with Kingdom, the new film from writer and director Shinsuke Sato (“I Am A Hero”, “The Princess Blade”), who co-wrote with Tsutomu Kuroiwa (“Gantz: O”, “Kasane”), from the manga of Yasuhisa Hara, I just couldn’t manage it all at once.
The primary reason for this is our main protagonist, played by Kento Yamazaki (“Good Doctor (TV)”, “Wolf Girl And Black Prince”). He has to be the most irritating character ever portrayed on screen. Having never read the manga I can’t say if it’s a true depiction or otherwise, but I really hope not.
Yamazaki decides to scream, yell, sob, spray spittle everywhere for the vast majority of the movie. Not only that, but he proceeds to talk, to anyone and no-one in particular, you through the plot up to that moment.
This is extremely irritating as this isn’t a difficult plot. It doesn’t require explaining, but he does it anyway, usually whilst screaming, or just after screaming, or just before screaming.
Before the movie launches into an action sequence, as the tension is building, everything has been leading to this…Yamazaki will just pause for a moment and talk through the plot, just in case you’d fallen asleep.
It reminds me of those TV shows that break for an advert and, when they return, proceed to tell you what happened before the adverts. This despite the fact that it was only ten minutes of programming pre-adverts and then three minutes of adverts. How useless do the makers of these programs think our memories are?
So, with a main character who will irritate you, it’s hard to like Kingdom to be honest. Which is a shame as Japan is good at these large, sweeping costume pieces usually.
It’s a fantasy land we’re in, full of odd looking characters, with epic fight scenes, some decent choreography and it’s all set in China…though made in Japan, and they speak Japanese, I think, I don’t speak Japanese but it sounds Japanese and the actors are Japanese so I’m putting two and two together.
You may be wondering why I’m not doing my usual trick of running through the basic premise, well, I just can’t bring myself to do it. Every time I think about Kingdom I think about Yamazaki either telling me the plot that I already know or him screaming or yelling some god-awful, hammed-up, cliched trope.
It’s not a good film and it’s over two hours long. I’d make sure you are sitting very comfortably and have some way of un-irritating yourself if you are going to give Kingdom a go.