ASIAN FILM - Review
11:37 - 3rd September 2015, by NEO Staff

The Fighter Pilot

Released in Japan under the title The Eternal Zero, a reference to the fighter planes used by the Imperial Navy during World War II, The Fighter Pilot was a smash hit in Japan. Takahashi Yamazaki, who helmed the live action version of Space Battleship Yamato, directs the tale which was adapted from a novel by Naoki Hyakuta, the remarkably unpleasant man who denies that the Rape Of Nanking ever took place.

Given Hyakuta’s involvement, it is no surprise that the film glorifies the kamikaze pilots who threw their lives away in service to the Emperor and the nation during the Pacific conflict. The story moves back and forth between the present where two siblings discover their grandfather was a kamikaze pilot and set out to learn more about his life and fate, and World War II, where Kyuzo Miyabe (Junichi Okada) is an ace pilot hoping to live out the war so he can return to his wife and child. The whole enterprise is delivered with the utmost earnestness, and while there is some criticism of those in power who ordered the young pilots to their deaths with the motto “Certain Death, Certain Victory”, that can’t mask the fact that Miyabe’s self-sacrifice is presented as worthy and admirable. But kamikaze pilots were the suicide bombers of their time. The film’s aerial combat scenes have won praise, but the politics behind the tale are repugnant.

Yamazaki knows how to craft impressive action set pieces, but his blockbuster flies into troubling territory.
SCORE: 3/5
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