Japan, and Japanese culture is quite a vast tapestry in its themes, history, and ideas. Whilst researching this article to celebrate the release of The Wolverine this week (our review HERE and feature on why it's so much better than Origins HERE) it became apparent that there isn't a huge number of American films set or made in Japan, never mind Hollywood films. You could argue it's because American filmmakers aren't entirely sure of how to capture the majesty of the rural Japanese country side, or it's concrete urban jungles. A more realistic idea is that there's quite a lot of red tape involved, as Ridley Scott claimed whilst filming Black Rain (1989), his one and only film shot in Japan after he declared he would never consider filming there again.
That could be why they're such a rarity? So, the pool is fairly shallow. In spite of that, quality is in high abundance. Thematically, a lot of the same themes can be seen. Hollywood films when set in Japan love to contrast an American character to a Japanese one, as their cultural values and personalities initially clash, before warming to each other. Regardless of if they're friends, work partners, or lovers it's a pretty evident formula. We often see Japan's cultural ideas and history drawn upon, that of the Samurai, and the Yakuza, with a heavy emphasis on the U.S post-war occupation of Japan.
Join us, as we trek through several fantastic films set in the land of the rising sun.