Best-selling author Kaoru Takamura’s debut novel, which won a Japan Mystery and Suspense Grand Prize, is now a movie with a star-studded cast.
In the underground vaults of a bank in Osaka rest a stash of gold bars worth 24 billion yen. This is the story of six men who come together and risk their lives in a daring attempt to steal the gold. As they summary their scheme, however, one mysterious incident after another beset their plans. Unbeknownst to them, their respective pasts are becoming entangled. As their histories gradually come into view and the truth is revealed, what fates await these men who risked their lives for gold?
This is a thrilling, entertaining heist picture set against the backdrop of Osaka. Six men who carry dark pasts join forces for a shared mission, and in the breathless series of events, we see a portrait of the men’s intense ways of life. The film grips the audience with mystery and action, all while offering a moving, bittersweet human drama. Everything one can hope for from a movie is jam-packed into this golden masterpiece.
At the helm is the talented Kazuyuki Izutsu, who has directed numerous hits set in the Kansai region of Japan (including Osaka) such as Gaki Teikoku, Boys Be Ambitious and We Shall Overcome Someday, invariably tackling the treachery and obstruction found in today’s Japan. This film is his first in two years since The Hero Show. With Izutsu’s strong preference for working with original screenplays, this film also marks a rare attempt at an adaptation, but the director is said to have been an avid fan of the novel since it was published, carrying the book around for many years until it was thoroughly tattered.
Drawn to this dream pairing of Kaoru Takamura and Kazuyuki Izutsu, a strong ensemble of Japan’s top actors have assembled for the project. The lead is played by Satoshi Tsumabuki, winner of the Japan Academy Prize for his performance in Villain and one of Japan’s leading actors today. Working with director Izutsu for the first time, he vividly brings to life the solitary, mysterious protagonist. Starring alongside him is Tadanobu Asano, whose recent turns in Thor and Battleship have thrust him into international stardom. Rounding out the cast are Kenta Kiritani, considered one of Japan’s rising stars since making his film debut in Izutsu’s Get Up!; the young and talented Junpei Mizobata, who’s active in both TV and films; Chanming, a member of the Korean boy band Tong Vgang Xien Qi, which is enormously popular throughout Asia; and last but not least, Toshiyuki Nishida, one of the most respected veteran actors in Japan and arguably one of its crown jewels. These talented and distinctive actors come together in a remarkable display of teamwork as their characters take on this daring mission.
Once the pieces of the puzzle snap together to provide a full view of the drama, the film launches straight into the thrilling heist sequence and takes the audience along a breathtaking ride through the climax. It’s precisely as the men are increasingly cornered into a seemingly impossible situation that their essence fills the screen. The ephemeral and the permanent intersect as their fates are decided in the blink of an eye.
What is the nature of the pride these men possess behind what appears to be unbridled greed? What do they value above all else? The audience will be on the edge of their seats as they witness the results of this ultimate gamble.
Hiroyuki Koda (Satoshi Tsumabuki) returns to his hometown in Osaka after an absence of over twenty years. A friend from his college years, Koji Kitagawa (Tadanobu Asano)-now a truck driver for a transport company-sets up Koda with an apartment and a warehouse job. Knowing Koda’s history of having worked as a supplier for extremists and crooks, Kitagawa ropes him into joining him in his summary to steal gold worth 24 billion yen from the underground vaults of a major bank.
At Kitagawa’s apartment, where Kitagawa lives with a wife and child, Koda is introduced to Noda (Kenta Kiritani), who Kitagawa had met at a car show. Noda is a systems engineer who services banks, but he also has a large debt. As the three discuss the plan, they decide they need to bring in some more help. First, they reach out to an acquaintance of Noda, an older man named Junzo Saito (Toshiyuki Nishida) he calls “Pops.” He’s a park janitor, but as a former elevator operator, he knows the inner workings of the bank they’ve targeted. Word is that he was once a union activist as well.
When Kitagawa cites the need for an explosives expert, Koda decides to seek out a young Korean man named Cho Ryo-fan (Chanming), who he had encountered in Tokyo some time ago. Though Cho works part-time at a tofu shop in a shopping district in Suita and passes himself off as a university exchange student, he is in fact a former North Korean spy, now being chased as a deserter and traitor. In addition, he has just killed his older brother, who had been sent by the Fatherland. Koda describes him to the others as “a man shrouded in mystery, like Momotaro, the legend,” and thereafter refers to him as “Momo.”
Before long, Kitagawa’s younger brother, Haruki (Junpei Mizobata), learns about Kitagawa’s summary. While Kitagawa harbors concerns about his brother’s immaturity-he’s a gambling addict-he reluctantly decides to add him to the team. With the six members of the team finalized, the men embark on executing their daring plan.
“In the beginning, there was gold,” Kitagawa declares to the team as their leader. “We’re bonded here not by need of flesh or of company, but by our shared need for gold.” He then describes the plan in detail. The target is the stash of gold bars in the B3 level beneath the bank. They will enter through the parking garage on the B2 level. Simultaneously, in order to create diversion and confusion, they will explode the nearby Nakanoshima Substation, blacking out not only the bank but the entire area as well.
First, they will need to acquire some dynamite. Kitagawa obtains information about a transport vehicle carrying dynamite from a plant in Takasaki, Gunma. Koda teams with Noda to attack the transport vehicle, and they succeed in securing the dynamite. However, when this incident receives nationwide publicity, a man named Yamagishi (Tomorowo Taguchi) contacts Koda. He’s an extremist with a coalition named Seidosha who has prior dealings with Koda. Surmising that Koda must be behind the dynamite heist, he blackmails Koda and asks him for Cho Ryo-fan’s whereabouts. When Koda refuses, he and Momo find themselves on the run from men hired by Seidosha.
In addition to Yamagishi, yet another mysterious man makes contact with the two. Named Suenaga (Shingo Tsurumi), he’s a double agent posing as a North Korean comrade but working as an informant for Japan’s Public Security Intelligence Agency (PSIA). Suenaga tells the two that there’s someone leaking information about Momo to the outside. But Momo has long been aware of this snitch.
Before long, King, the man who controls the gambling dens of Osaka and harbors a grudge against Haruki, begins his revenge. King doggedly chases Kitagawa’s wife Keiko (Yuri Nakamura) and their young son, assaulting them and putting them at danger. Learning about this, Haruki rams his motorcycle into King’s car, critically injuring himself in the process. All the while, the men who are after Momo draw nearer and nearer.
As these men-each with their own inescapable past-are beset with one obstacle after another, will they manage to succeed in their plan to fly with the gold?
- IZUTSU Kazuyuki
- Original Story
- TAKAMURA Kaoru
- KANNO Wakana
- YOSHIDA Yasuhiro
- KIMURA Nobuya
- OSHITA Eiji
- Release Date in Japan
- Running time