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Now showing in Hong Kong

Film review: 100 Yen Love – Sakura Ando shines as a slob turned boxer

Sly humour and can-do spirit shine through in this punchy Japanese sports drama

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 January, 2016, 8:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 June, 2016, 3:22pm

Boxing films, like all sporting yarns, are often less about the game than the rigorous framework it provides for discipline, focus and getting your life back on track. That’s certainly the case in Masaharu Take’s 100 Yen Love, in which a thirty-something slob is forced to fend for herself after a series of unfortunate events expose her to life’s harsh realities.

After one family argument too many, Ichiko (Sakura Ando) is kicked out by her mother, forcing her to get a job at the local 100 Yen shop. Soon she develops an infatuation with a regular customer (Arai Hirofumi), a boxer from the nearby gym, but Ichiko’s lack of real-world experience sees her suffer a string of disappointments and personal tragedies that spur her to take drastic action.

Ando made an instant impression playing a recruiter for a religious cult in Sion Sono’s eccentric epic Love Exposure, and has since become a familiar face in the Japanese indie film scene. Her onscreen transformation here, from beer-guzzling shut-in to ripped athlete, is truly astonishing and proves one of the central pleasures of Take’s film.

READ MORE: How Rocky and Raging Bull inspired Japanese film about a slacker

A hugely entertaining yet emotionally draining experience, 100 Yen Love takes its audience from hilarious highs to tear-inducing lows as Ichiko makes her way from the couch to the canvas. Featuring a punk-infused theme song from rock band CreepHyp and Ando’s knockout performance, the film’s can-do spirit and sly sense of humour will leave audiences reeling in an adrenaline-fuelled euphoria.

100 Yen Love opens on January 7