Sunday, May 18, 2008

Go! (2001)


Yōsuke Kubozuka - Sugihara/Lee
Kō Shibasaki - Tsubaki Sakurai
Hirofumi Arai - Won-Su
Taro Yamamoto - Tawake
Takahito Hosoyamada - Jong-Il
Tsutomu Yamazaki - Hideyoshi (Sugihara/Lee's father)

At first glance, Sugihara (Yosuke Kubozuka) looks no different than your average high school rebel-without-a-cause-except that he's concealing a carefully kept secret: he's an ethnic Korean-or zainichi-growing up in Japan. The 2001 Japanese film Go chronicles Sugihara's tribulations as he searches for his identity in a society that refuses to acknowledge him. The film is an adaptation of a novel by the same name by Kazuki Kaneshiro, who is also a zainichi.

A short crash course in modern Japanese history is required for the movie to make the least bit of sense. Koreans numbering the tens of thousands migrated to mainland Japan for forced labor during the Imperial occupation of Korea during World War II. After Japan's defeat, many of the Koreans residing in Japan lost their Japanese citizenship because Korea was no longer under their rule. Also, Japan's laws determine citizenship through blood and not location. In other words, the Japanese government denies legitimacy to a Korean born in Japan, but an ethnic Japanese born overseas is guaranteed citizenship until the age of 21. Of course, there is an alternate process of naturalization, but it's so rigid that it offers plenty of room for discrimination.

Despite beginning a relationship with a girl named Sakurai (Kou Shibasaki)-under the guise of a Japanese citizen-things change for the worse when Sugihara's best friend from Korean school is murdered in a subway. Sugihara breaks down for the first time in the movie. His friend, Jog-Il, was his sole classmate from his previous school to approve of his attempt to blend into society.~Brett Fujioka

This movie was really good but seemed very confusing with many flashbacks. You had a hard time trying to figure out what was then and what was now. But in all, it was a great lesson in discrimination. More of a great learning experience for myself who really didn't realize the problems with Korean and Japanese relations. Again, American naivete reigned supreme for me. I live in this generalized American bubble that I'm so desperate to pop.

The most memorable moment in the movie, to myself, was the discussion between the Japanese patrolman and Sugihara. We all want to be seen as individuals. As an American, I'm a "mixed breed". Even though, I'd be categorized as caucasian, I'm a pure breed of English, French, Native American (more so of that than the others), German, and possibly Irish/Scot. I speak English, some Spanish, some French, some Japanese, some Korean, and some Latin. To be categorized by race or country really, truly apalls me to no end. All of us, when cut, bleed red.

I totally got pissed when Sakurai told Sugihara that her father said that Chinese and Koreans were "dirty". Eeeergh!!!! That for him to be inside her....was scary. Damn if I didn't want to reach through my computer and ring her neck. Love is love there should be no walls beween.

Definitely, this movie was an "A" class. Maybe not for most with race issues, but definitely a teaching and learning experience.

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