Monday, January 22, 2007

Harada Masato returns with supernatural mystery

Filmmaker Harada Masato has been more conspicuous as an actor of late, with prominent roles in "The Last Samurai" and Jet Li's "Fearless". His last feature-length work "Bluestockings" (Jiyu Renai) was actually made for satellite TV, and you have to go back to 2002 to find his most recent theatrical release, "The Choice of Hercules" (Totsunyu Seyo! Asama Sanso Jiken). That hiatus is now coming to an end with the commencement of filming for "Moryo no Hako" (roughly translatable as "Spirit of the Box"), a supernatural mystery set in postwar Tokyo and starring Tsutsumi Shinichi.

It's based on the second of Kyogoku Natsuhiko's nine (soon to be ten) novels featuring Chuzenji Akihiko, the proprietor of antique bookshop Kyogokudo (which is also his nickname), chief priest of a Shinto shrine in his backyard, and occasional exorcist. The series has shifted a combined total of 5 million copies to date, and the first book "Ubume no Natsu" was filmed by the late Jissoji Akio in 2005. The core cast of that movie - Tsutumi, Abe Hiroshi, Tanaka Rena, Nagase Masatoshi, and Miyasako Hiroyuki - all return, and are joined by Kuroki Hitomi, Shiina Kippei, Emoto Akira and Kudo Kankuro.

Synopsis (from Cinematopics):

In post-war Tokyo, the mutilated corpses of beautiful girls are being found one after another, stuffed into boxes. Are they connected to a strange psychic who offers prayers to the boxes, and a huge, mysterious box-shaped building? Then the daughter of former actress Yuzuki Yoko (Kuroki) goes missing... Private detective Enokizu (Abe), writer Sekiguchi (Shiina) and policeman Kiba (Miyasako) enlist the aid of Kyogokudo (Tsutsumi). Can he defeat the evil entity responsible?


Filming began on December 6th in Japan, followed by a location shoot in Shanghai from January 18th which will wrap on the 31st. Completion is scheduled for May, and the finished product will be released nationwide in Shochiku and Tokyu-affiliated cinemas sometime next autumn. (sources: Sanspo, Cinematopics, fjmovie.com)

Walkerplus has footage of the press conference announcing production of the film here:
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