The titular journey man, Chasuke, is heaven’s tea servant; he provides herbal infusions to the robed screenwriters in the sky whose plots are then lived out on earth by their characters. One day while dishing out the tea, he gets entangled in one of the plots involving Yuri, a mute woman for whom he develops a fondness, and so is sent down to earth, where his celestial powers enable him to rewrite the script for the people he meets.
The film is much more than a far eastern interpretation of The Adjustment Bureau or Stranger than Fiction, as a supporting cast of wacky characters conspire to help and hinder Chasuke on his journey to save Yuri. We meet along the way a down-on-his-luck antique dealer, a grieving restaurateur, an unhinged police man with a painted face, a karaoke patron (also apparently with a few screws loose), a Yakuza boss and Chasuke’s sister, all of whom have back stories crammed with improbable and rather comical events.
The film takes advantage, too, of the opportunity to land a few sly digs at bad writing in cinema through several well worked jokes. This helps to bed the themes of metaphysics and self-determinism into a lighter atmosphere made up of humour and action.
If the film falters anywhere it would be where, despite its imaginative and charming execution, its central message is a little worn. The notion that our lives are ours to live and that we determine our own fates is nothing particularly original, and consequently the edge is slightly taken off an otherwise engaging and charismatic effort from Sabu.
Chasuke’s Journey does not yet have a UK release date.
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