In their astonishingly adept award-winning debut film, In Full Bloom Directors Adam VillaSenor and Reza Ghassemi, have taken a fresh look at the standard action crime boxing movie formula and elevated it to a sweeping study of the human heart.
This is a very poignant, rich character study of these fighters’ internal reflections over the course of 24 hours. In Full Bloom is structured around the juxtaposition of two fighters’ parallel journeys in the context of Post World War II occupied Japan.
Each powerful scene layers over the next as we share the thoughts of both men. Clint the challenger (Tyler Wood) his familiar underdog story of a down and out fighter with something to prove, haunted by the ghosts and survivors guilt of his recent combat tour.
Undefeated champion Masahiro (Yusuke Ogasawara) stoically bears the weight of an entire nation’s dignity in the face of American occupation in post-war Japan.
The story is about a boxing match, but the core of its purpose, as the fighters battle each other, circumstances unfold that starkly illustrates the biggest challenger is always oneself.
The seedy underbelly of professional boxing a staple of the boxing genre isn’t ignored here. The film reveals the rise of the Yakuza, Japanese organized crime, aided by the political vacuum left in the wake of the occupation.
Beyond the broader context of the fight are Clint and Masahiro’s personal histories, shown in flashbacks grounds each man and gives you his own unique perspective.
The boxing match extends far beyond personal status or ego, the two men can’t escape their nation’s tenuous connections in relation to the war and its aftermath. The occupation itself is a lens which moves the story throughout.
The undefeated Japanese Champion trains in a harsh wilderness setting, seeking out a reclusive Japanese mentor for his upcoming bout against the American challenger. These scenes were among the films most poignant for me.
There is an effortless beauty in this film. Made by and for lovers of Cinema. This isn’t CREED. Though both lead actors look grounded as professional boxers and authentic in training and the ring, it’s not an action film. The apt comparisons to the films of Terrance Malik are well deserved.
The cinematography and score are equally poetic and thrilling. Every shot is breathtakingly rich, painstakingly crafted, colors exuberantly vibrant, with the scenery carefully chosen for each location so uniquely palpable it’s breathtaking at even the most simple of moments.
From the close quarters of the arena basement locker rooms to the sweeping grandeur of the mountain training grounds.
As I watched and rewatched In Full Bloom, I tried to decide who were we the audience were to root for. And it still escapes me. You’re never led by the nose, how to feel—there’s no Rocky character the film wants you to love.
You care equally about both men and they respect each other in turn, as combatants, and by the big finale, you get the sense in another life and circumstance as true comrades.
In Full Bloom opens with cherry blossoms and in voice-over, reminds us ‘Life is so tragically short but beautiful. In Full Bloom illustrates that fact by the palatable regret I felt once the end credits started to roll.
This is my first MUST see picture this year.
Action | Crime | Drama
Country of Origin
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