Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Y˘suke Kubozuka, Shidou Nakamura, Sam Lee, Koji Ohkura
Director: Fumihiko Sori
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Sports
Based on Taiyo Matsumoto's highly successful manga of the same name. Ever since the day Peco (Y˘suke Kubozuka) rescued Smile (Arata) from a gang of bullies and introduced him to the game of table tennis, the pair have been... more »
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Enter the Hero!
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 07/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is just great, easily one of my favorite modern Japanese flicks, and goes to show that the best of a countries films are not always readily exported. While on one hand a spectacularly visual sports film, with super-speed ping pong matches and dynamic characters, it is also a deeply introspective look at friendship, and the role of a hero and what that is supposed to mean.
Based on a five-volume manga by Matsumoto Taiyo, "Ping Pong" is the story of two best friends and their love of the sport of Ping Pong. Nicknamed "Peco" and "Smile," they are a study of contrasts. Peco (the popular Kubozuka Yosuke from "Go") is brash, flashy and smug, always taunting his opponents and singing his own praises as the best player around. Smile, given the name because he never smiles, is a quiet, self-effacing boy whose calm demeanour is the absolute opposite of Peco. Since childhood, they have practiced at a local hangout run by Obaba/Granny (Natsuki Mari from "Samurai Fiction") who has trained and nurtured the kids character and talent. Now in high school, they are on the ping pong team coached by former champion "Butterfly Joe" (played by the always great Takenaka Naoto.) Peco is Smile's hero, and the natural order of their friendship has been maintained for years. There is only one problem. Smile is better than Peco, and has been purposely loosing to him so as not to topple his hero. Smile prefers to be second place, in deference to his skills. This revelation crushes Peco, and he must discover his own actual strength, and learn what it means to be a hero.
Into this mix are an amazing cast of characters each with a unique name and personality. "Dragon," the harsh and serious leader of a rival school, who cannot stand Peco's humor and silliness while playing. "Akuma" ("Devil") who tries to live up to Dragon's standards, but must recognize his own weaknesses. "China," a Chinese player, is the neutral voice who is able to stand aside and see the inner struggles played out before him.
Much more than just a sports film, or an uplifting "feel good" flick, it is amazing that "Ping Pong" is so-far the only film from director Sori Fumihiko. Sori is a computer graphics expert by trade, and the use of CGI is almost seamless, as the players play a game with no ball which was later added in. The actors are all dedicated to there role, and show a profound depth. Takenaka Naoto ("Butterfly Joe") is both his usual clownish self, as well as someone with a hidden melancholy from a secret past.
It does drag a bit in the middle, and sometimes you wonder when the payoff is going to come. When it does come, however, it is not exactly what you expected, and better than you imagined.
"He is playing against someone who is playing for the sheer fun of it. To face such an opponent is...fantastic.""
A typical but good Japanese sport movie!!!
FireMesh | USA | 01/30/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I said this is typical because this movie has the elements that are so abundant in Japanese dramas and movies, and even animation; very introspective, and its about sports and friendship.
Additionally, it has a very "innocent" perspective of high school sports, and the spirit of competition.
The movie is good for the fact that it revolves around ping pong or table tennis, which itself is a misunderstood, under appreciated, and sometime unfairly made fun of, sports, especially over here in US. I blamed that on ignorance.
Its fun, and lighthearted, and it teaches good values, give it a try, and I am sure you'll like it."
Do you believe in heroes?
C. Mamaril | the planet we call earth | 07/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a fun (and often funny) film that revolves around the unique world of High School Ping Pong (in Japan). It's a sports movie that grows to be a little more than a sports movie... while managing to not become too over-the-top (like too many mainstream high school sports movies are). The great thing about this film is the fact that there are no bad guys, and you get to watch just about every character change and grow through the course of the film. Great performances from the entire cast, too."