Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown

Told in the first person, via flashbacks, we're informed that Go "is a story about my love".

At first, it doesn't seem that way as our narrator, Sugihara, a Korean national living in Japan, has run-ins with the police and teachers at the Korean school he attends, gets punched out by his ex-pro-boxer father, and, in turn, takes out a succession of challengers at his new Japanese high school.

Copy picture

But, as the Shakespeare quote ("...a rose by any other name...") that introduces the film reminds us, it's all about words, meanings and contexts. Shugihara is telling the story of his love, a love that is intertwined with his very particular circumstances as an outsider.

At a party he meets Sakurai. They hit it off, though Sugihara never comes clean about his being Korean until the night they prepare to consummate their relationship...

Working from strong source material in the shape of Kazuki Kaneshiro's novel, ably adapted for the screen by Kankuro Kudo, director Isao Yukisada delivers a film with drama, emotion, and style.

An exhilirating opening - all freeze frames, slo-mo, jump cuts, cut-to-bangin' techno - gets your attention. Understandably, it proves impossible to sustain this level of intensity, though the rest of the film is far from post-orgasmic comedown, with moments of brilliance.

Similarly, while stories of love across boundaries aren't exactly new, the relative strangeness of the Japanese context, where expressions of nationalism are so problematic and racism non-dependent on physical difference, lets one see things with fresh eyes.

The pivotal scene is its one weak spot: Sugihara confesses to Sakurai that he is not Japanese and she reacts in horror. To believe it, one has to assume that nothing previously had led Sakurai to realise Suhugari's ethnicity and Sugahari Sakuria's unthinking racialism. But, given the meet-the-parents scene, where Suguhari questions Sakurai's father as to the meaning of Japan and argues it to be a word whose true origin is lost, that's difficult.

Quibbles aside, Go is a remarkable piece of filmmaking that takes the same attitude towards generic and stylistic boundaries as its hero: "Borders? I'll wipe 'em out!"

"Go for Freedom. Go for Love. Go to Fight"

Go see.

Reviewed on: 19 Aug 2002
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Korean youth in Japan fights against prejudice.

Read more Go reviews:

Emma Slawinski ****

Director: Isao Yukisada

Writer: Kankuro Kudo, based on the novel by Kazuki Kaneshiro

Starring: Yosuke Kubozuka, Kou Shibasaki, Tsutomu Yamakazi, Shonobu Ootake, Taro Yamamoto, Takahito Hosoyama, Mitsuri Murata, Kaynam Myung, Ren Ohsugi, Sensie Shiomi

Year: 2001

Runtime: 122 minutes

Country: Japan

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