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ASAKUSA KID (2021, JPN) – 6.5 / 10

I would certainly have bypassed this film if I hadn’t noticed at the last minute that this is actually a biographical drama about the legendary Japanese comedian, actor, screenwriter and director Takeshi Kitan, also known as Beat Takeshi. Those who follow the film probably know very well who it is, because Kitano has become one of the leading Japanese filmmakers in the last thirty years. He made many famous films, from “Violent Copa” through the trilogy “Coda” to “Zatoichi” and “Fireworks”, which brought him the Golden Lion in Venice. He is the author of a recognizable style, and in the film, which according to his autobiography was also made by comedian and filmmaker (but much younger generation) Hitori Gekidari, we follow his beginnings while he was still an anonymous kid dreaming of one day becoming a comedian and star.

The name of the film itself comes from the Asakus district of Tokyo, where Kitano arrived as a young man after dropping out of school and deciding to become a comedian. We follow his beginnings in the comedy studio and his breakthrough on the stage of some bizarre Japanese stand-up, and the club where he got a job as an entrance worker could be described as a mix of bad comedy and striptease. Soon, young Kitano (Yuya Yagira, who made his debut as a boy in the cult “Nobody Knows” by Hirokazu Koreeda) will gain the trust of theater owner Senzabur Fukami (Yo Oizumi) and will get a chance on stage. Yet, very soon at first a clumsy and somehow withdrawn kid, he will eventually gain in confidence and will very soon realize that there is no future in this archaic type of strip-comedy club.

He will decide to become independent and start a comedy duo with the artistic name Beat with a colleague who will take the name Beat Kiyoshi. They will start dealing with a Japanese type of comedy called Manzai, and it won’t take long for Kitano to surpass his teacher and soon become a big star. Just as I expected, “Asakusa Kid” was an almost school-made biographical film in which the author focused exclusively on the early stages of Kitan’s career, and in the foreground is primarily his relationship with his teacher who never managed to forgive his “betrayal”. , but he was aware that he would never be able to fully develop his potential. As is usually the case with similar biographies, it’s all loaded with melodrama, and I guess this film might be particularly interesting only to those who are well acquainted with the character and work of Takeshi Kitan.