Dir: Shûji Terayama, 1977.
94 min. Japan.
In Japanese with English subtitles.
Dense with glorious tints and nail-biting moments, Shûji Terayama's Boxer pits avant-garde and crowd-pleaser sensibilities against each other with downright jugular results.
The story is old as sin: a withered ex-champion, fueled by bitterness and drink, takes a young drifter under his wing. In a society that rewards cowardice and conformity, the student's values are shaken by his mentor's discipline and focus, but it's hard to tell if the retired boxer is steady, or just plain berserk.
Spectacle favorite Terayama (Pastoral, Emperor Tomato Ketchup), who wrote boxing commentary as a hobby between plays and movies, gives the story a dazzling palette and lightning swiftness, but also a necessary sense of respect for the body and the weight of its punishment.
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