The Wolverine (2013)

不老不死不滅 (Furō Fushi Fumetsu)
Eternal Youth, Immortality, Immortal

The kanji characters were carved onto a sword that was given to Logan from Yashida, a japanese soldier who owed his life to Logan when Nagasaki was under attack during the World War II. It also resonate the overall motif of the film. The story unfolds not as a continuation of its predecessor, X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), but took place after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand (2006). Set in modern day Japan, Logan was summoned by Yoshida as the man was about to face the limit of his mortality. Little did he know, Logan got himself entangled between yakuza and treachery, that follows the death of Yoshida. Which only got more complicated when his own feeling and emotion resurfaced, forcing him to face his personal demons.

The aftermath of X-Men The Last Stand was significant to Logan because of the great personal loss he suffer from that event, aka the death of Jean Grey. Here we saw how Logan (Hugh Jackman) was so raw and emotionally vulnerable as he’s having recurring nightmares and Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) manifests in his dreams. He was choosing solitude as a way to repent his guilt, away from fellow mutants and his destined faith. When an incident brought him to a japanese assassin, Yukio (Rila Fukushima), he was brought back to collide with a long forgotten past. In Japan, his instinct to protect resurface when he met Mariko (Tao Okamoto).

I have an undying love for Japan and its culture, so my excitement for the film was partially because the film is set in Japan. Using both traditional and modern signifiers of the country culture, from seppuku, to ninja code of conduct, to shinkansen and ラブホテル (love hotel). This allows a wide berth for the film to play on the cross-cultural gap that could be encountered over the course of the film. The japanese casts, especially the females, are refreshing contrast to Wolverine own existence. This is the first time i actually enjoyed seeing Hugh Jackman looking all tall and sculpted. The exaggerated Wolverine hair definitely looked a little tamer but made him look more real and not as comical (which probably what bothers me anyway). The immortality theme plays nicely with Wolverine and made me feel empathic towards the clawed  Red-haired, Yukio, looks as if she steps out of KERA magazine, all decked out in black and red ensemble of japanese gothic-punk-rock street style. She’s tough as nails and loyal. As different as day and night, Mariko is a yamato nadeshiko personafied. Willowy and move with grace, she became the movie damsel-in-distress that still possess power and exudes quiet confidence.

I throughly enjoyed the first two acts of the film, i think it built up quite nicely, and different enough the previous Wolverine stand-alone film in a very good way. The emotional turmoil happening made the film felt more grounded, and this is the first time i feel Wolverine as a vulnerable and accessible human being. There are exhilarating fight scenes, scattered along the movie. But my favorite was when Wolverine fights off all the Ninjas in the middle of bleak, snowy night. It was captured so beautifully and there are something poetic when you see the image of Wolverine towards the end of the fight. But you’ll have to see that for yourself :) I have to mention the cinematography that was quite different, and probably some are heavily influenced or became an homage to classic japanese samurai films. The score by Marco Beltrami is definitely unexpected.Staying away from your typical heroic superhero score, Beltrami use unexpected instruments such as flutes and percussions, and to go with japanese instruments such as koto and taiko to capture the uniquely ethnic sounds. The score alternates between dreamy and tender, to the energetic optimism. Some pieces are just so dramatic and hauntingly beautiful. I think it complements the film in such an unexpected way.

The thing is, as the story developed, the twist grew more predictable, and i become more and more underwhelmed by the progress. The obvious villain of the film is the american scientist-cum-mutant known as Viper. Svetlana Khodchenkova appears one of the (if not the) most comical character, disrupting the grounded feel that was built since the beginning of the film. Khodchenkova over the top make up and hair do probably does not help either, and probably only topped by Jean Grey drag-queenesque arched eyebrows, which seems downright scary at times. And of course, it all crash and burn in act three. I’m not sure what happened because i enjoyed the movie thus far, yet it seems like it just gave up and got confused how to conclude the film at the end. How do i measure this? Well, when the post-credit scene is more intriguing and when you got out of the theatre you were more excited about the trailer for Thor: The Dark World that you saw at the beginning of the screening i think it really says something about the overall effect of the film on you.

As Mariko said in the film “Here, everything has meaning“, the line resonates with how the film was developed, gaining depth through symbolism, trying to be a little smarter than the previous installments. While it did not reach for the level of success it probably aimed. It  successfully delivered a different side of Wolverine, though, the vulnerable and haunted being that was hidden under the adamantium claws. I still feel it has enough potential and should be the new standard of X-Men movies in the future (separate from the First Class series, of course)The Wolverine now playing at Blitzmegaplex and Cinema21, check their respective websites for further info and schedules in your cities. Available in 3D and digital 2D format.


GENRE Superhero
DIRECTOR James Mangold | PRODUCER Lauren Shuler Donner, Hugh Jackman, Hutch Parker, John Palermo | WRITER Christopher McQuarrie, Mark Bomback, Scott Frank | MUSIC Marco Beltrami | CINEMATOGRAPHER Amir Mokri | EDITOR Michael McCusker | STUDIO Marvel Entertainment, The Donners’ Company, Seed Productions, Hutch Parker Entertainment | DISTRIBUTOR 20th Century Fox | COUNTRY United States, Australia | BUDGET $125 million | RUNNING TIME 126 minutes | RATING PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi and violence, some sexuality and language | RELEASE July 24, 2013 (Indonesia), July 26, 2013 (US)
STARRING Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen, Rila Fukushima, Tao Okamoto, Hal Yamanouchi, Svetlana Kodchenkova

Stills are partially from IMDb | Official Site | Trailer


Random Trivia *to amuse myself, really*

  1. Wolverine was reffered to as Kuzuri (クズリ) by the japanese in the film, the word actually meant wolverine (as in the animal)
  2. Each character has a black-and-red sumi-e style poster (like the one i used above), you can download them at the official website!
  3. The film is released in Japan under the name ‘Wolverine: Samurai’
  4. Del Toro expressed his interest in directing because he loved the Japanese Arc in Wolverine story. Darren Aronofsky was attached to the project before he bows out due to conflict of interest.

6 thoughts on “The Wolverine (2013)

    • i agree, maybe i was so underwhelmed by the third act which i found borderline ridiculous, but the excitement for post credit scene really what stood out for me at the end!
      Eventhough i don’t understand how they could have 2 seemingly paralel X-Men franchises at the same time (between the one with McAvoy/Fassbender and Stewart/McKellen)

      • Kinda blurring every prediction made only for The Day of Future Past… Yet, no i’m looking forward to it like never before!
        What I don’t understand is: what kind of mutant is Kuzuri? In Japan, during WWII but also somewhere else during Xavier and Magneto’s quest on First Class

      • Im not sure how it actually goes in the comic, but in X-Men Origins: Wolverine he was living from the 1800s wasn’t he? So I guess aside from his adamantium claws his other mutation is in some sort of self repairing gene that made him impossible to injured and kill, as well as giving inability to age and impervious to death. Thus the immortality theme of the film!

  1. his adamantium claws (and self) is a modification, then I guess he possesses some kind of endless regeneration :) Well, whatever it is, his immortality has become “something” for other villain, as well as in this movie, I guess.

  2. Pingback: Monthly Digest: 2013 July 2013 | kinema kinema to karamel

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