The Film Movement DVD of the 2018 Asian drama "Complicity" provides more proof that world cinema is global regarding its relativity. The theme this time is a post-adolescent man seeking a better life in a new country.
The following Movement trailer for "Complicity" offers a good primer on this story with shades of "The Karate Kid;" it also highlights the artistry in front of and behind the camera.
Our story begins with otherwise nice young Chinese man Chen Liang committing a criminal act to finance the purchase of a black-market cell-phone and a fake ID.
The ID is central to the effort of Chen to emigrate to Japan. His first obstacle to starting his new life is overcoming his inability to pay the premium associated with buying "a real fake ID" that is associated with an actual person. This resolution reflects the ass, gas, or grass philosophy that prevents anyone from riding for free.
On arriving in Japan, Chen essentially is a squatter among others living on the fringes of society. The next big development is his becoming Liu Wei the soba chef apprentice formerly known as Chen Liang. This job comes with both room and board.
The "Karate Kid" element enters in the form of the "sagely mentor," who owns the restaurant and operates it with the help of his adult daughter. It is clear early on that this master chef knows that his current employee and future mentee is not whom he claims to be.
The sweet love interest enters the picture in the form of student Hazuki, who gets more than she bargains for when ordering a delivery from the restaurant. She also innocently proves that dames ain't nothin' but trouble when she inadvertently blows the cover of the object of her affection.
A series of flashbacks and calls to Mom tell the rest of the story. Chen is escaping a repressive environment in which he is living with his not-so-well mother and his not-so-nice grandmother. These scenes additionally establish that the folks back home know that Chen is in Japan but otherwise are victims of a not-so-elaborate scheme.
Arguably the most cute scene in "Complicity" redeems Grandma. She first sneaks a wad of bills into the pocket of Chen on seeing him off and then insists that he take the money on his discovering that kind gesture,
Writer/director Kei Chikaura deserves great credit for not overdoing the climax; the highly predictable build-up to the house of cards that is Chez Chen tumbling down is done relatively gradually and without the frantic chase through the streets and/or the being dragged off in bracelets that one would expect in this type of tale. It further is nice to see that at least one person in the life of our likable lead realizes his true character.
As always is the case when Movement includes a bonus short film in a release, Movement chooses wisely. ""About Bintou" is a well-produced documentary about an African woman who is a stranger in a strange land in that she is studying in China.