If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Yabuki Joe (Tomohisa Yamashita) is a vagrant living in the slums of Tokyo in the 1960's. Although he's jailed for getting in a streetfight, a former boxer sees potential in him and decides to train him. Joe is reluctant at first, but while in prison he meets Toru Rikiishi (Yûsuke Iseya) who's a professional boxer and the two develop a rivalry. Upon his release, Joe decides to train in boxing seriously so he can settle things.
Tomorrow's Joe is based on a manga by the same name, and boy does it feel like it. The story is disjointed instead of having a real clear arc it moves from conflict to conflict as more of a recap than an actual plot. The characters are cartoon caricatures of people instead of feeling honest. Joe's trainer is a horrible racial stereotype that harkens back to "Slap a Jap" Superman days. Joe himself seems to be well-liked by everyone despite being kind of a douche throughout the film. And any emotion you could have in the plot is whisked right out of it by it's bad pacing and some of the more ridiculous cartoony things that feel like they're always happening. On the plus side the cinematography (especially for the fight sequences) is pretty great... although much of it is clearly lifted straight from the comic. Also the score is excellent. There's a lot of harmonica and adds a great feeling to the rest of the movie.
Despite how wonderfully the fight sequences are shot, the all center around a device that is so ridiculously silly that you completely break suspension of disbelief right away. Joe's signature move is the "cross counter" where-in he puts his arms down and lets his opponent punch him in the face until he gets the punch he wants (a left cross) and then he counters with a right cross of his own that is stronger to KO his opponent. It's so ridiculous if you've ever seen a single boxing movie before that I started routing against the guy pretty early on. Any real-life boxer would quickly dismantle this prick. There are all these training sequences and yet Joe does almost no actual boxing. If I were his manager I'd be absolutely infuriated. Plus he's lighter than a feather weight, and I'm supposed to believe that he can a) get his ass kicked for three rounds and still get up and b) KO any other boxer with one punch? Bullshit.
Tomorrow's Joe has the bones of a good boxing story and a nice rivalry, but it's crippled by it's cartoony elements.
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