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Hard Romanticker ("Hadoromanchika")

Canadian Premiere
  • Japan
  • 2011
  • 108 mins
  • HD
  • Japanese
  • English (subtitles)
Official Selection, Busan International Film Festival 2011
Official Selection, Tokyo International Film Festival 2011
Official Selection, Udine Far East Film Festival 2012
Official Selection, New York Asian Film Festival 2012

“Gleefully anarchic... a demented Punch & Judy show” — Maggie Lee, VARIETY

Ouch. Life is hard for Tatsu (Kento Nagayama), a young crook who doesn’t always approve of the ultra-violent ways of some of his colleagues. Plus, by mistake he just killed the granny of Kim Chon-gi, an infamous Japanese-Korean gang boss, during a failed burglary. Meanwhile, Tatsu’s pal, a blond felon named Gu (Shota Matsuda of AFRO TANAKA, also screening this year), is looking to save his ass — and to get some, whenever it’s possible. Everybody wants Gu alive or dead, even Detective Fujita (Atsuro Watabe of Sion Sono’s LOVE EXPOSURE and Takashi Miike’s ZEBRAMAN). There’s also Takagi (Shido Nakamura of Miike’s NINJA KIDS!!!, Ryuuk’s voice in the DEATH NOTE series), who owns the classy club — an upscale brothel, really — where Gu just got hired. There are so many sick little bastards out there. And Gu is one of them. The guy has issues. Serious ones. Before long, women and men will get abused, beaten, burned, knifed, clubbed, hammered with a helmet… Gang wars are never pretty. Yes, it’ll hurt.

Clouded by cigarette smoke and stained by the blood of many innocents, HARD ROMANTICKER is not a film for a first date. Adapted from Director Gu Su-Yeon’s own quasi-autobiographical novel, this is a sometimes funny and often unsettling crime flick about the Japanese-Korean condition, featuring plenty of sex and violence (sometimes at the same time) and blasts of black humour. In addition to the aforementioned main protagonists (Matsuda’s Gu will stun you), the impressive supporting cast is completed by Nobuaki Kaneko (LOVE STRIKES! , also at the festival this year), Kaname Endo (AFRO TANAKA), Yuma Ishigaki (13 ASSASSINS, BATTLE ROYALE 2) and Jyonmyon Pe (COLD FISH, AIR DOLL), among others. Roaring motorcycles, horny little glue-sniffing fellas, games of dominoes, broken noses and a funky soundtrack à la Tarantino (with lots of sunny brass) are to be expected, as are several chases on foot, on rooftops, on wheels… It’s THE CITY OF VIOLENCE meets KIDS and A CLOCKWORK ORANGE in a very dangerous way. Handle with care.

— Kristof G.