20 December 2011

Film Review: Assault on the Pacific - Kamikaze (2007), by Taku Shinjo, ****

World War II epic about a squadron of Japanese Kamikaze pilots and their journey through training and first missions toward the terrifying destiny of their battle with the US Navy over the Pacific Ocean. It is essentially a backstage shoot, very little in terms of war action.

If you are looking for a war movie don't buy this DVD. This is a very good film, but it is about the human experience of a few thousand men who chose, or were chosen for, a suicidal mission at the end of WW II. I don't share the view of some reviewers on Amazon that this movie is apologetic of the kamikaze or the japanese military. Whether some were fanatics rather than heroes is beyond the point. It was a hell of a human experience and this movie tells it well. There is also thinly veiled criticism of the top brass and the military police who mistreated the kamikaze even as they were about to lay down their lives for the country. This is a historical episode that tells us a lot about the Japanese. There is still a Kamikaze statue at the Yasukuni shrinein Tokyo today, even in pacifist Japan.

It also tells us a lot about their leadership in the waning days of the war, when defeat was inevitable and the only hope was to lose with honor, and in their mind the kamikaze would serve that purpose.

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