It’s understandable to be skeptical of movies billed as “The New Movie X!” or “The Movie X from Blank!” By and large, those comparisons to movies you love don’t measure up. But while I haven’t seen Yuji Shimomura’s Re: Born, from the look of this U.K. trailer, the “Japanese John Wick” hype may well be warranted.
The most obvious parallel between Re: Born and John Wick is the plot. This revolves around a “Legendary covert soldier with a mysterious past” who “decides to once again unleash the beast inside of him to stand up for what he cares about.” Sound familiar?
If it read “he whoops the ass of the people who killed his dog,” I’d expect to see Keanu Reeves in a suit. (Though is that some sort of dead animal the girl is carrying along the beach? I can’t really tell.) But it’s a dude who’s eschewed a violent life in favor of other pursuits, pulled back into the carnage of his previous existence by external forces. You can see the same resignation and reluctance on the face of the protagonist.
There’s also the raw, stripped down action scenes. From what we can see here, it also echoes John Wick in the visceral, practical style. It features a combat style called Zero-Range Combat, a close-quarters hand-to-hand fighting system developed by Yoshitaka Inagawa. (Think a kind of Japanese Krav Maga or Systema.) He’s trained the Japanese SDF and U.S. Special Forces soldiers, and he supervised the fights, which is promising.
For his part, Yuji Shimomura has long plied his trade as a stuntman, similar to David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, the stuntmen-turn-directors who helmed John Wick. And again, I hate to draw direct comparisons, but the action looks staged in a similar way. We have elaborate fight choreography that’s still down and dirty, it’s shot in a way that we get to see fights play out and witness the skill of the people involved, and it has a realistic, tactile feel.
All of this is prominently on display in this earlier trailer:
Re: Born stars Tak Sakagushi (Versus, Why Don’t You Play In Hell?, Tokyo Gore Police, and more), Akio Otsuka (too many movies to name), and Mariko Shinoda (Tag).
It’s also been around for a bit, premiering back in 2016—it even played Fantastic Fest last year. Re: Born made a U.K. premiere earlier in September and is slated to hit DVD and Blu-ray in early 2018. But as of now, it still doesn’t have U.S. distribution, which needs to change ASAP. Despite all of my comparisons, I’m sure this isn’t the new John Wick, but it still looks badass beyond belief and I want this in my life.