Key of LifeUchida Kenji follows his previous film, After School (2008), with another hilarious, entertaining story, this time about switching identities and the surprises that come with it.

In Key of Life (Kagi-Dorobo no Method), one of the Dragons & Tigers selections at the Vancouver International Film Festival 2012, Sakurai (Masato Sakai), is a 35-year-old failed actor, unlucky in love, who can’t even hang himself successfully.

His luck changes when he has the opportunity to steal the identity of older, more mature Kondo (Teruyuki Kagawa), a famous ruthless fixer for the underworld, after the real Kondo has a random accident in a bath-house. But taking on the identity of a ruthless fixer also means he must attend to the business of being an assassin.

The real Kondo finds himself in the hospital with amnesia and must learn to accept and live with the identity of Sakurai. Just his expression when he says he is supposed to be 35 is hilarious. He cleans up at home and begins to adjust to his new life even studying acting. His perfect ‘gangster look’ lands him a part as an extra for a gangster film. Teruyuki Kagawa does a great job playing the real Kondo.

What adds even more hilarity to the film is the addition of the needy woman executive, Kanae (Ryoko Hirosue), who has set herself  a two-month deadline for her wedding. Now she is on the hunt for the perfect groom. A chance meeting with Kondo seems to work in both their favors as a new friendship forms and Kanae helps Kondo along his way to recover his memory.

Director Uchida’s lovable, hilarious characters and their awkward moments really make this one enjoyable. Great story, good performances by the actors, Key of Life is a funny and touching, feel good film and a great addition to VIFF 2012.


[Rating 3.0/5]