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In the year 2084 aliens invade Earth and conquer humankind except for a remaining group in the mountains of Tibet. Their mission is to go back to the past, and prevent the events that lead to this human annihilation.

While preparing to send the volunteers into the past, the aliens break into this stronghold and Miri (Millie in English) is left as the last hope, and now must go back to 2002 to prevent this

We now are introduced to Miyamoto (Takeshi Kaneshiro), who is an orphaned gun for hire, and has found his way after a shootout facing Mizoguchi (Goro Kishitani) who is a crime boss. The two have a history which Mizoguchi is not really aware of, but nothing gets fully explained anyway,because Miyamoto is distracted by the arrival of Miri while Mizoguchi
gets away.

The crime boss finds out about a strange craft that has been locked up and tested on, but we all know it has fallen from space. So Mizoguchi thinks he can harness the powers of this alien to use it for his personal benefit. Are you still with me?

Equipped with a watch that slows down time for everyone but the wearer and gives them super speed, Miri tries to convince Miyamoto that she is from the future and the end is near, of course he does not believe her,so she turns to strapping a mini bomb a-la-Running Man on his neck for him to help her kill this alien that has crash landed, and caused Earth to be wiped out.

An interesting aspect to this film is how the alien ships all have that funky anime style look that transform into Earth planes, in a way very alive and Transformer-ish, while the aliens are pretty nasty looking fellas in armor. Without it, they put the Arquillian Prince to shame.

Between misunderstanding deceptions, revenge, and desperate comedy, romance must take place and is handled nicely. Towards the end the story starts to ride on thin ice, trying desperately to wrap things up, and explain little things that didn’t have too much significance to the core of the story. For most of the running time you really have to be reminded that the alien threat is what this is all about, because you feel it's more of a revenge plot that has the whole Judgment Day theme lurking in subplot mode.

To director Takashi Yamazaki's credit, though, he spares nothing in making this action packed when need be much like John Woo, and Hong Kong action films traditionally have the certain je ne c'est qua.

The dead giveaway to the influence of Hong Kong has to be the infusion of cool long black leather jackets flapping in the wind, awkward romance, and bad guy overacting.

After all, Takeshi is known in Asia as one of cinema's heart throbs, and not so much an action star, but Returner does for him what The Matrix has done for Keanu Reeves, making him look awesome with a gun and kick butt kung fu. Hopefully, he could do more of these roles to keep the younger generation interested in him.

Modern Japanese films don't seem to move anyone much like the classics anymore, but now and again something does pop up and impresses the Asian market. Not so much in the West, though.

Nothing is really original in this flick, slapping other more famous Western movies together. It screams Clockstoppers effects (I will still deny I saw that), a Terminator story line, Matrix action, Back to the Future logic, and many, many more. Returner does have its moments, and does make a decent fun film.

If you liked Underworld, give this a shot.


Mish'al Samman

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