I should point out to those in other parts of the world that this special edition of ‘The Wolverine’ DVD is only available through the Sainsbury’s market chain in the UK. If it follows the normal trend, for two weeks it will be at the lower price as above and then go up to a higher price until a sale price sometime next year. In other words, don’t leave it too late buying at the lower price.
*** HERE MIGHT BE SPOILERS SO READ AFTER WATCHING OR GO TO THE LAST FEW PARAGRAPHS***
So, what of this film and how does it compare to the previous film, other than having a ‘The’ in the title. ‘The Wolverine’ follows on from the original ‘X-Men’ trilogy films with Logan (actor Hugh Jackman) growing his hair and beard long and living rough in the snowy Yukon. He’s not happy that he killed Jean Gray (actress Famke Janssen) and depressed enough that he wants to die. That’s a bit of a problem considering that his metabolism has made him long-lived.
Wolverine also re-lives an event back at the end of World War 2, where he was imprisoned in Japan, not far from Nagasaki, in a blocked sewage drain. As the city is bombed by that fatal atomic bomb, he saves out of his guards and in the present, Yashida (actor Hal Yamanouchi) has sent Yukio (actress Rila Fukushima) to bring him back to Japan as his dying wish.
Before Wolverine is allowed an audience, the female doctor (actress Svetlana Khodchenkova) insists he is cleaned up and is washed, a haircut and shave. Now, from my perspective, considering that Wolverine’s metabolism restores his appearance all the time, you would expect this to grow back all the time and he would have to use his claws as razors everyday to remove his excessive hair. A missed opportunity. Likewise, Wolverine appears to have given up on his cigars and only calls someone ‘bub’ once in the entire film. Yashida gets Wolverine to promise to protect after his grand-daughter Mariko (actress Tao Okamoto) after his death.
That happens the same night and a day later, there is a big funeral. Yashida was extremely wealthy and Mariko is going to inherit the lot, over her brother and father. Wolverine spots something isn’t right about the priests and ends up within a three gang battle with the Yakuza and a Ninja archer taking out the opposition as he can. Mariko seems less enthused by her rescue by Wolverine and attempts to leave him in the city, although they both end up on the bullet train.
Wolverine finds his metabolism isn’t restoring him as it should, confirmed when he tries cleaning himself up in the toilet. There is then a further battle in and on the train before he finally gets Mariko away and take a different route to her destination.
An odd thing I should note is that despite being in Japan during WW2, this Wolverine version knows nothing about Japanese tradition and can’t speak the language. This is probably the biggest deviation from the traditional comicbook version. Wolverine might be a violent character but you would have thought having a reminder that he isn’t an idiot could have been incorporated into the story.
While staying in a Japanese city for the evening, Wolverine collapses and Mariko convinces the local vet to remove the bullets from his body. While Wolverine realises how vulnerable he is, a romance develops between them. This is suddenly broken when Mariko is kidnapped. Fortunately, Yukio arrives and they pursue, first to seek the kidnappers and then the true villains. For what happens next, watch the film for yourself.
There are definite influences from Chris Claremont and Frank Miller’s 1980s Wolverine mini-series in this film and the set piece battles are superb. It shouldn’t be a surprise that two of the villains are Viper and Silver Samurai, although it’s disappointing that other than the green fingernails and costume, she doesn’t have the green hair to match.
Watch the credits through because there is a taster for the next X-Men film, ‘Days Of Future Past’ out next year. The extra on the film DVD examines Wolverine as a ronin, a samurai without portfolio, and the filming. The second DVD is 55 minutes looking over the entire X-Men franchise from cast and crew. Although this looks like clips from the extras from the previous DVDs, having them all put together puts things into perspective. Be careful with the ‘play all’ command because the first section looped on my DVD so watched the rest separately.
Usually, when I review a DVD, I like to watch it twice but at there’s a limited low price period, I’ve only done this one once so far. One can’t deny it’s an action-packed film and it certainly has a bit more plot compared to ‘Wolverine’ (the film without the ‘The’). In other respects, this is a redemption plot with Wolverine getting back his will to live at the same time when others are trying to put an end to him.
In many respects, I couldn’t help but see the plot as a standard adventure spectacular adjusted to take on Wolverine. There is nothing wrong with that in itself but it could have done with reminding people that the clawed mutant is more than someone with attitude and slash and smash. The more aspect is that there will be a third film after the next X-Men film so maybe they can sort that out then.
(region 2 DVD: pub: 20th Century Fox 5250401074. 120 minute film 2 DVDs 120 minute film with extras. Price: £ 9.99 (UK-limited period) – £13.99 (UK) in a couple weeks)
cast: Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hal Yamanouchi and Svetlana Khodchenkova
check out website: www.fox co.uk but buy at Sainsbury’s supermarket chain in the UK.