Thursday, July 25, 2013

JAFFA JURY: The Wolverine Movie Review

"You want what all soldiers want." "And what is that?" "An honourable death."

Those lines could easily be pointing to the justification for this film. The last two flicks Logan starred in, X-Men Origins Wolverine and X-Men The Last Stand, still have some fans cleaning the taste out of their mouths years afterwards. Now Hugh Jackman is back to set the record straight, and boy does he ever. Surrounded by more Yakusha, ninja and plot twists than you can shake a shirtless mutant at, this film has me thinking the man of adamantium's latest big screen romp might just be better than the recent epic of the 'man of steel' and definitely better than the third chapter of the 'iron man'.

Key to The Wolverine's success is the fact this it ditches the errors of it's predecessors, largely leaving special effects at the door and focusing on the twisted tale of loyalty, honour and redemption that is it's heart and plot.

Logan (Hugh Jackman) has renounced his codename and made home in the Canadian wild, where he finds his thoughts raging in two directions, neither of them good. Haunted by a Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) who waits for him, his guilt over killing the woman he loved has left him wondering what is the point of his 'immortality' without her.

Located by Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a mutant orphan taken in by Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi) (a man whose life Logan saved in World War II), Logan hears the now frail old man wishes to repay his kindness before he dies. Returning to Japan, the mixed-up mutant quickly finds his 'friend' is rather after his ability to heal. That way Yashida can live on and Wolverine can at last die a natural death.

With the decision seemingly taken away from him, Logan soon finds himself embroiled in a corporate war, as the Yakusha and ninja collide over Yashida's granddaughter, Mariko (Tao Okamoto), who is set to inherit the industrial empire in just three days.

Mariko's father Shingen (Hiroyuki Sanada), her fiance Noburo (Brian Tee), childhood ninja-friend Harada (Will Yun Lee), and biochemist 'Viper' (Svetlana Khodchenkova) all pick up the chase, as Logan whisks Mariko to safety, just as his abilities start to mysteriously fade.

The duo's escape proves short-lived and as the code of honour hits the fan, so to is the 'Wolverine' reborn with purpose. Though if he survives long enough to see Mariko alive again, he just may have to put his heart in his hands to tell her.

In a country where "nothing is without meaning", dropping world conquering super-villains for a relatively contained plot is a refreshing change. Punches, ninja kicks and swords are still pulled hard - Logan's fight at 300 miles per hour a-top a bullet train is brilliant stuff. Then when the Silver Samurai finally drills down upon him in the epic conclusion, I literally could not stop wincing (healing factor or none).

The whole X-film franchise has been built on Hugh Jackman's embodiment of Wolverine, and here he is back to his squinted 'don't mess with me bub' eyes best. Adding another layer, as the love triangle between himself, Mariko and Jean's memory builds to a climax, Hugh proves he can stay in character and deliver the softer elements of the role with just as much conviction.

That said the casting of Mariko is flawless. Tao Okamoto (above) has an old Hollywood yet very Asian reserved grace to her, and the way she plays the character with such force of will she doesn't flinch in the face of adamantium claws millimeters from her face, yet is still 'girl next door' enough to share apples with a tired man, shows why Logan would fall for her in the first place.

Loosely based on the 80's Wolverine comic by Chris Claremont and Frank Millar, The Wolverine is the sequel that never feels like one. The after credits scene alone is one of the best yet (perhaps only rivalled by that of X-Men 2). Featuring two familiar faces and a logo, it will be a moment in the reborn X-cinematic universe that stops everyone in their tracks.


  1. I'm very happy they cast Mariko well. If they hadn't the whole thing would have fallen apart. I wasn't sure I was going to see this. I might now, if I can get the time. Thanks Dan. :)

  2. You've made me want to go see this film - I was planning on doing so anyway, but now I cannot wait!
    A terrific review, really whets the appetite.
    Ive always found Wolverine's years in Japan interesting, ever since they were hinted at way back in Byrne's X-Men days. This third movie could turn turn out to be the best in the franchise ever.
    p.s. just added you on Google +

  3. Thanks guys!

    @Random - like I say in the review Random, she is pitch-perfect. Jean shows up a lot more than I thought from the trailers too, which was awesome, as she is the best X-Woman IMO. So I think you'll dig that.

    That's probably the one thing I don't give them credit for in the review. Through Jean they acknowledge the events of the horrible films prior, but at the same time, they don't acknowledge those films too. It really is well handled and the sequel that isn't one too.

    @Karl that's awesome to hear mate - thanks for the add and also such positive feedback - I really appreciate it. I write my reviews pretty much spoiler free but at the same time tongue in cheek. When you've seen the film hopefully you will be able to read the review again and see what I mean - but definitely let me know what you think!

    I completely agree, I've always found Logan in Japan and Madripoor etc the more interesting side of the character, so this film as a crime noir in Japan almost, was really up my alley.

    Plus the cameo's of other X-characters are kept to an almost non-existent minimum, but I know you will yahoo over the after credits scene. In fact I think I'll hear you and Random from New Zealand. ;)

  4. I'm told I have a set of pipes, so yeah, that's a distinct possibility. :)

    1. You don't have an irish accent and a love of wearing green and gold do you Random? If so we may have to start dubbing you Syrin from X-Force!

  5. God I hope your not pulling my leg. After Ironman and the Lone Ranger I can't spend my money on anymore superhero movies. I havn't even seen Man of Steel yet and I heard it was amazing.

    The thing is, I saw Superman returns and you guys know what kinda disappointment that was. Add in Spiderman 3, amazing Spiderman and a couple of others and for me the bad has out weighed the good.

    So Dan I'm counting on you man. IDW review don't let me down.

  6. Yeah there sure have been some flops ain't there mate. When you do see it, no matter how far down the track be sure to let me know what you think. It's more street level and more culture based so I think you'll like it!

  7. Yeah there sure have been some flops ain't there mate. When you do see it, no matter how far down the track be sure to let me know what you think. It's more street level and more culture based so I think you'll like it!

  8. I Googled 'nothing is without meaning' & the first 2 searches were negative reviews about The Wolverine & all I can see is an abundance use of 'big words' just to make the negative review seem credible when it's not. Your review is at the 3rd search & I'm glad to read your take on the movie. I like how you saw & interpreted the movie. I just saw The Wolverine tonight and liked the movie a lot. I've been collecting comic books since the 90s & I'm good with movies having to adjust/change some details. Sometimes we just have to sit back & just enjoy 'how it's translated to film' instead of subjectively ranting 'how it should be done'. And I totally agree, this for me is better than MoS & IM3.

  9. Hi Bel, glad you found my post and welcome to IADW! I started collecting comics full-time in the 90's (and late 80's) too, so it's always good to meet another fan who dove in around the same time I did.

    I'm pleased to hear you like The Wolverine too, and agree with how it stacked against those other mem of iron. Like you say sometimes continuity takes a few hits as stories told over decades are adapted for fresh audiences and condensed in a two hour slot. Wolvie I think does the job well, and it certainly is a film I didn't regret spending the money on.

    Thanks again for your comments!

  10. @Dan, why yes, in fact, I am part Irish (the other parts are predominantly Norse, go figure), and I do love green and gold. In no particular order.
    Funny, I never thought about doing Syrin. But that is an excellent suggestion.

  11. I tell ya Random I'm full of it - excellent suggestions I mean ;)

  12. just saw it. it's something of a mixed bag for me but i'm still processing it. however, make sure you stick around for the post credits scene it will be a mind #$%&.

  13. It sure is Dave. Like I say in the review - it stops people in their tracks ;-)

  14. Dan the Wolverine is going into the collection. It's that good. They gave us Wolverine the super hero but kept it grounded and believable.

    Every character was solid. And I can only see Mandipoor in the near future of the franchise. Wolverine and Blade kicked some major ass in Mandipoor (Blade animated movie). Him and his new body guard kick a lot ass all over Japan and Mandipoor as well.

    You can see I'm already ready for Wolverine's next movie. Because this one is Sweet As.

  15. Blade meets Wolverine OA? Now you have my mind working over time. hugh vs Wesley would be awesome. If movie companies could learn to share profits that is.

    Glad you liked the Wolverine too, it's getting a bit of flack here and there for not killing enough ninjas etc, but hey too dark and they'd be saying what about the kids that want to see their hero live? I'm sticking with what we got was good enough.

  16. YOWZA! Just got back this early evening from seeing the Wolverine movie - THAT bit at the end credits was amazing! Now thats truly whetted my appetite for the new X-Men movie!
    But we also got an extra trailer for another movie alongside it -American Hustle, with an all-star cast, check these out...
    Christian Bale
    Jeremy Renner
    Robert De Niro
    Jack Huston
    Louis C.K.
    queer bait Bradley Cooper
    Alessandro Nivola
    Jennifer Lawrence
    COLLEEN CAMP!!!!!!!!
    Elisabeth Rohm
    Amy Adams

    Don't know which movie Im more stoked about seeing!!!!

  17. The post credit scene is great isnt it Karl, some actors really redefine and embofy their roles. In the upcoming X movie though I'd like to see Ian McKellan's Magneto say Thou dhalt not pass. just as a nodd tl his other equally grand role.

    As for the other movie, despite the awesome cast that's the first I've heard of it. 'Queer bait'? Man I must be old. I don't know what so many of todays phrases are. Oh well, at least I know what time displaced Captain America felt like!