2 Hr 36 Mins | Action | 10-11-2023
Cast - Karthi, Anu Emmanuel, Jithan Ramesh, K. S. Ravikumar, Sunil and others
Director - Raju Murugan
Producer - SR Prakash Babu, SR Prabhu
Banner - Dream Warrior Pictures
Music - G. V. Prakash Kumar
Actor Karthi belongs to a rare breed of actors who can slip into author-backed and critically acclaimed films like Khaidi and also pull off commercial films. He opts for a grey character of robber Japan for a heist-action comedy. Does Karthi shine in the film? Does Japan cater to its target audiences? Let’s find out.
A popular jewellery store belonging to the state Home Minister (KS Ravi Kumar) gets looted by inter-state robber Japan (Karthi) incurring a Rs 200 crore loss of the ornaments. Police are under pressure to nab Japan who is the mastermind of several such heists. Is Japan the real culprit behind this crime or he is being framed for it? Who is behind this and how Japan deals with this forms the film.
It is Karthi’s one-man show. Special effort is put into his look, demeanour, characterisation and performance. Even his dialogue modulation gets a new tone. While Karthi does justice to this grey-shade character, it doesn’t rise beyond this. The lack of substance and depth in the story pushes the character and performance down the drain. Anu Emmanuel has no major role barring in a small sequence and a song. Her track is poorly written and looks forced in the proceedings. Her glamour quotient also fails to entice. Actor Sunil gets a different role as a corrupt cop. His look and characterisation are akin to his Pushpa character, albeit he wears a Khaki uniform here. The track of videos of police officers intimate videos doesn’t go well. Director KS Ravi Kumar does a brief role as Home Minister. Vijay Milton plays the cop and he fits the bill. In addition to its writing and lacklustre content, the lack of prominent Telugu actors, except Sunil, makes one disconnect from the film.
Japan has a weak story and conflict. Writing is the biggest criminal. Director Raju Murugan failed to develop a comprehensive script. Songs are not engaging as GV Prakash doesn’t deliver. Ravi Varman’s cinematography deserves a mention. The film suffers from its uneven pace. A thin point is stretched out testing the patience.
Mother Emotion & Climax
Weak Story & Conflict
Stretched Out Narration
Having a total dark shade for the protagonist is certainly an interesting premise, but it is not unheard of. Telugu audiences are quite familiar with such experiments. In the past, we have seen this in films like “Businessman,” “Temper,” “Jai Lava Kusa,” and partly in “Pokiri,” among several others. However, Karthi’s “Japan” takes it a step further. Unfortunately, it lacks a solid story and gripping narrative. Understandably, director Raju Murugan is only fascinated by the hero’s characterization and a few others in the film. Beyond the characterizations of the roles, he hasn’t worked on the film’s story and conflict.
“Japan” has several shortcomings. The screenplay is flat and formulaic, with only a few portions shining. The action sequences lack punch, and the film struggles due to stretched-out portions. Some sequences are utterly boring, with many of them serving as mere fillers and clichés. The cat-and-mouse game, crucial for a heist-action comedy, needs to be gripping but is poorly handled, taking away interest in the proceedings. The police department is depicted as weak and helpless. Giving too much priority to side characters and their backstories makes the narrative unengaging. The heroine track feels artificial, as does the romantic number with her.
The film doesn’t rise beyond a certain point and tests the audience’s patience. The emotional part, which is the core of the film, is decent but saved for the end, and by then, it’s too late. The film is reminiscent of “Temper” for its own reasons. The climax is unusual and appreciable, but it can’t save the film. “Japan” is sabotaged by its shallow writing and bland direction. It’s a mystery why Karthi agreed to such an underdeveloped script. The description of the protagonist for “Japan” is “It bounces back even after going down,” but in reality, the film never bounces back. In fact, it just falls, falls, and falls. This is Karthi’s atomic bomb on audiences, akin to the US bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Verdict: Japan Never Bounces Back!