Presented by Funimation and now playing on several theaters in United States, we have «Kingdom», the new live action adaptation of the manga of the same name created by Yasuhisa Hara.
Set in what is now known as The Warring States Period in China, we met Xin, a boy orphaned by the constant wars, and after being sold as a slave, he meets another slave boy called Piao, together they began to dream by leaving their lives as slaves and becoming the greatest war generals in China. Years go by and the boys have ben training very hard in the mastery of the sword, until one day, a Chinese nobleman visits their village decided to buy Piao’s freedom and offers him a job at the king’s palace.
Although this will separate the boys that until that day have grown as brothers, Piao takes the opportunity, leaving behind Xin, who instead of holding a grudge, decides to keep training even harder to achieve their dreams and one day reunite with Piao.
Some time later, Piao comes back to the village mortally wounded, explaining to Xin that Cheng Jiao, the king’s younger brother, has staged a coup, and before dying Piao gives Xin a mission. Motivated for Piao’s death and looking for answers, Xin travels to a remote hideout, where he finds Ying Zhen, the dethroned king, to who Xin now holds responsible for Piao’s death.
After dealing with his grief and rage, Xin decides to put his need for vengeance aside and to help the king to recover his throne, knowing very well that the odds are greatly against them, since they don’t have an army and Chen Jiao has thousands of soldiers at his service. This will put the pair on a dangerous journey where they will find enemies and allies alike in the most unexpected places.
The film has a very fast pace, and at no moment gets boring, even when it has a run time that goes a little bit more than two hours. The acting is very good, although at times there is some humor that might feel misplaced, specially with Xin’s character. You can even argue that Xin at times is a little bit over the top, but we need to remember that this is a manga adaptation, not a historic biopic in the strict sense of the word.
The film has several action scenes and they are very well balanced with scenes where the political drama gets a little bit heavy but are needed to bring context for those of us that are not familiar with the manga (or the history of China, for that matter). There are a couple of cool fighting sequences with very dynamic choreographies that will keep us on the edge of our seat, and although the film does not have gore in itself, there are a couple of scenes that are very violent and can make some people squirm.
There are a lot of interesting characters and although the film takes its time so we can know a little bit more of most of them, is clear that there had to be adjustments and omissions to have as much of the original material fit into the 2 hours (and plus) of run time, (the manga has been running since 2006) thus I was left wanting to see more of some characters (the mountain tribe were my favorite, in case you’re wondering).
In conclusion, «Kingdom» is very entertaining, has several cool action scenes and interesting characters, it left me wanting to see the original material and waiting for a sequel. Therefore I strongly recommend it.
«Kingdom» is based on the manga created by Yasuhisa Hara (There is also an anime adaptation) that tells a fictionalized version of the life of the Chinese general Li Xin and his role helping Ying Zheng (later known as Qin Shi Huang) in the unification of China. The film was directed by Shinsuke Sato (Who also directed the live actions versions for «Gantz», «Bleach» and «Inuyashiki»). The scrip was co-written by Shinsuke Sato and Tsutomu Kuroiwa («Kasana: Beauty and Fate», «Black Butler»). The cast has the talents of Kento Yamazaki, Ryo Yoshizawa, Masami Nagasawa, Kanna Hashimoto, Kanata Hongō, Shinnosuke Mitsushima and Takao Osawa.
The film is now playing at several theaters in U.S.A.