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Umizaru (Japan Version - English Subtitles) DVD Region 2

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Umizaru (Japan Version - English Subtitles)
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YesAsia Editorial Description

Based on a popular Japanese manga by Sato Shuho, Umizaru is an inspirational adventure film from the creators of Bayside Shakedown: The Movie. Starring Ito Hideaki (Onmyoji and Onmyoji 2), the film details the trials and tribulations of a group of young men who dream of becoming elite sea and rescue divers. The group must endure a grueling training regimen, and form both fierce and friendly rivalries. Tough times and tragedies await them, but through it all, the group forges unbreakable bonds of camaraderie.

Senzaki Daisuke (Ito Hideaki) enters the Coast Guard Academy to try to become an elite sea and rescue diver. The head training officer orders Daisuke and his incompetent classmate Kudo to be partners - an immediate burden to the more-experienced Daisuke, who already has a divemaster license. Still, Daisuke sticks close to Kudo, and together they begin to challenge their training officer's tough demands and even tougher training drills. Then one day, an unexpected accident takes the life of Kudo...

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Technical Information

Product Title: Umizaru (Japan Version - English Subtitles) 海猿 (日本版 - 英文字幕) 海猿 (日本版 - 英文字幕) 海猿 Umizaru (Japan Version - English Subtitles)
Artist Name(s): Kyoko | Kato Ai | Ito Hideaki | Kaito Ken | Fuji Tatsuya | Kunimura Jun | Karina | Ito Atsushi 杏子 | 加藤愛 | 伊藤英明 | 海東健 | 藤龍也 | 國村準 | 香里奈 | 伊藤淳史 杏子 | 加藤爱 | 伊藤英明 | Kaito Ken | 藤龙也 | 国村准 | 香里奈 | 伊藤淳史 杏子 | 加藤あい | 伊藤英明 | 海東健 | 藤竜也 | 國村隼 | 香里奈 | 伊藤淳史 Kyoko | Kato Ai | Ito Hideaki | Kaito Ken | Fuji Tatsuya | Kunimura Jun | Karina | Ito Atsushi
Director: Hasumi Eiichiro 羽住英一郎 羽住英一郎 羽住英一郎 Hasumi Eiichiro
Release Date: 2006-04-19
Publisher Product Code: PCBG-50905
Language: Japanese
Subtitles: English, Japanese
Place of Origin: Japan
Picture Format: NTSC What is it?
Disc Format(s): DVD
Region Code: 2 - Japan, Europe, South Africa, Greenland and the Middle East (including Egypt) What is it?
Other Information: DVD
Shipment Unit: 1 What is it?
YesAsia Catalog No.: 1004146749

Product Information

[アーティスト/ キャスト]
羽住英一郎 (監督) / 伊藤英明 / 加藤あい / 佐藤秀峰 (原作)

[テクニカル・インフォメーション]
低価格版
製作国 : 日本 (Japan)
公開年 : 2004

[ストーリー]
全ての海上保安官の中で、わずか1%の人間しか到達し得ない人命救助のエキスパート≪潜水士≫に、14名の若き海上保安間《海猿》たちが50日間に及ぶ壮絶な訓練に挑む。仙崎大輔(伊藤英明)も、その一人だ。海が好きで、海難救助最前線で働きたいという熱い想いのみで、ここまでくることができた。大輔は、主任教官・源(藤竜也)に工藤(伊藤敦史)とバディを組むように命じられる。しかし、マスターライセンスを持つ大輔と違い、工藤は訓練では常に足をひっぱる存在だった。工藤に足を引っ張られながらも、彼を励まし続ける仙崎。厳しい訓練を通じ2人に強い絆が生まれた矢先、その事故は起きた・・・。理想と現実のギャップに直面し大輔は、初めて大きな壁にぶつかり潜水士への夢を捨てようとする。そして源は、ことあるごとに大輔をライバル視していた三島(海東健)を新たな大輔のバディに指名するのだが・・・。

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YumCha! Asian Entertainment Reviews and Features

Professional Review of "Umizaru (Japan Version - English Subtitles)"

March 3, 2006

Based on the popular manga of the same name, Umizaru (literally "Sea Monkeys") is a winning action flick that borrows liberally from the Top Gun formula, only this time around, the pilots have been replaced with rescue divers, and the locale has been changed to Japan. Still, it's not exactly a lifeless carbon copy transported to Japanese shores. While first-time director Eiichiro Hazumi does reenact more than a few genre conventions pulled from countless Hollywood films, he somehow succeeds in giving Umizaru a pulse all of its own.

The story kicks off when fourteen young men decide to become search and rescue divers for the Coast Guard. Each of them claim to possess a noble desire to help people, but in most cases that's a lie - simply put, the rescue diver position is a prestigious gig that'll help them achieve any number of personal, often shallow goals.

Still, being a search and rescue diver is a highly dangerous job to take on and applicants are subject to a series of grueling training sessions to qualify for the position. Naturally, like Full Metal Jacket and an Officer and a Gentlemen before it (and numerous other films with a vaguely militaristic bent), Umizaru introduces viewers to a drill sergeant-type character in the form of training supervisor Taro Minamoto (Tatsuya Fuji), a harsh taskmaster battling his own sea-related demons. The training he'll impose on these men lasts for fifty days, and each newbie is assigned a buddy with whom he'll be paired with throughout the experience. That decision will eventually prove to be the focal point of the storyline.

Although it seems to be an ensemble piece at first, Umizaru isn't without a leading man. In this case, the main character is Daisuke Senzaki (Hideaki Ito), a working stiff with a taste for adventure. He also happens to hold a diving master's license, a fact which pegs him as "the one to watch" among his peers. Unsurprisingly, Minamoto pairs him off with Kudo (Atsushi Ito, later to be seen on TV's Densha Otoko), a weak, fairly diminutive diver-in-training who gives off the general impression that he'll be a washout in no time flat. Although never stated outright, it's suggested that Minamoto's rationale behind the odd coupling is to turn both men into better divers - Senzaki will learn to be a team leader, while Kudo becomes a solid diver in his own right. Well, that's the plan anyway.

At first, however, these mismatched teammates find themselves tanking in the training exercises, primarily due to Kudo's poor diving performance. As a result, the two unlikely "buddies" end up suffering all kinds of demeaning punishments at the hands of their superior officer, and their failures earn the increasing ire of the already cold-as-ice Mishima (Ken Kaito), a supremely confident new recruit who's only looking to get ahead and couldn't care less about Minamoto's precious buddy system. Although the other recruits are initially snotty towards Kudo as well, the tide turns in his favor when he humbly admits his own weaknesses and reveals his true reason for becoming a diver in the first place. Moved by this gesture and Senzaki's dedication in making Kudo a better diver, all of the remaining recruits eventually decide to help Kudo succeed - all but Mishima that is, who remains thoroughly unconvinced of Kudo's merits.

Meanwhile, the men make some trips off base and try their best to seduce local girls. However, they end up failing miserably since the "Sea Monkeys" have a terrible reputation among the female residents of this seaside town. It seems the new recruits always get new girlfriends when they arrive, but they also promptly dump them as soon as training is over. Even under these conditions, a few romances begin to bloom. Kudo takes a liking to a nurse named Erika (Karina), while Senzaki accidentally gets involved with her good friend Kanna (Ai Kato), a Tokyo-based fashion writer who's returned home to visit her ailing mother.

The "Meet Cute" moment between the latter couple is decidedly embarrassing, as Kanna gets drunk, hits on Senzaki, and takes him back to a hotel room. She dozes off before anything sexual can happen between the two, but when Kanna wakes up the next morning she has no memory of the previous night and believes she's slept with Senzaki. Both irritated and delighted by Kanna's embarrassment, Senzaki is unable and perhaps unwilling to clarify the situation for her. Eventually, the two become friends and - you guessed it - much, much more.

With both the action and the romance angles covered, Umizaru goes one better by adding a sizeable amount of comedy into the mix. Surprisingly, the humor comes off as disarmingly self-deprecating. That is to say, the fact that these trainees are depicted as dorky guys rather than preening, super-cool pretty boys is both refreshing and immediately endearing to the audience, even if the actors can be somewhat broad, if not over the top at times.

But still, all the fun and games doesn't last as the Sea Monkeys are struck by an unforeseen tragedy - one so terrible that it shakes Senzaki to his very core. In fact, he's so bummed out by this sad turn of events, that he considers quitting. He's simply lost his nerve. Of course, this is a feel good action flick, so it's no secret that he's going to regain it, but how that plays out in the film is no less exciting, predictability quibbles aside. And once Senzaki gets things together, he soon finds both his skills and those of his teammates put to the test when an accident occurs on their final training mission. With no option in sight and backup too far away to get there in time, they have no option but to take matters into their own hands and find out if they really have the "right stuff" after all.

When looking over the characterizations and the overall plot of Umizaru, the aforementioned Top Gun comparison isn't a glib remark; there's actually something to it. Senzaki is more or less playing the Tom Cruise/Maverick role, while Kudo proves to be "Goose" in ways you might not expect and Mishima clearly inhabits the Val Kilmer/Iceman character from Tony Scott's hit 1986 film. And it certainly feels like a 1980s Hollywood movie at times, as demonstrated when the song "Open Arms" by Journey plays not once, not twice, but THREE times during the film! And the first time it rears its head is during an overly saccharine movie kiss that's sure to elicit a few groans, and perhaps even laughter. It's just so darn cheesy.

But that's not to say thatUmizaru should be dismissed as either a Top Gun retread or a glossy recruitment film for the Japanese Coast Guard. The humor, the genuine likeability of its characters, and the overt "Japanese-ness" that colors the story trumps whatever deficiencies there are in terms of plot mechanics or originality. This is especially evident in the ending when the expected "overcoming insurmountable odds/winning the respect of a bitter rival" storyline is handled with a welcome degree of subtlety that makes all the action movie clichés a lot easier to swallow.

With that in mind, Umizaru is effective commercial entertainment and a feel-good action movie that hits far more often than not. Although the movie features a fairly predictable storyline pulled straight from a Jerry Bruckheimer flick, Umizaru succeeds in no small part due to its charming, largely comic portrayal of its lead characters and its deft handling of the action movie formula.

by Calvin McMillin

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