Posted by Cassandra T. in Movie Reviews, Wolverine on July 26, 2013
The Wolverine (2013) is an exciting, action-packed insight into the world of Japan and its samurai sword-wielding ninjas through Wolverine’s past history that comes back to haunt him. While the plot is somewhat convoluted, what really makes the movie work is its awesome fight scenes and its strong female characters.
Set after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), The Wolverine shows Logan (Hugh Jackman, of course) living as a recluse in a forest. He is plagued by nightmares of the dead Jean Grey, and also of Nagasaki, Japan. In 1945, Wolverine saved a kind Japanese soldier, Yashida, when the atomic bomb was dropped. Years later, he is tracked down by Yukio (Rila Fukushima), sent by a dying Yashida, now the head of a multi-national tech corporation, who wishes to say goodbye. Logan accompanies Yukio to Japan. However, someone is after Logan’s regenerative powers and immortality.
Convoluted Plot, Awesome Action
Wolverine is being tormented by his demons that keep haunting him. We know from X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) that he is virtually indestructible. Under superhero lore, all superheroes need at least one crippling weakness to separate them from being gods. For Superman, it was kryptonite. For Wolverine, it is his tortured soul.
However, The Wolverine actually explores a vulnerable Wolverine, one that does not recover almost instantaneously from bullets and knife wounds. Personally, I thought it was kind of stupid how he still kept taking gun shots and wounds when he already knew that his regenerative powers had been compromised. I guess old habits die hard.
The plot tries to be clever by weaving many characters with their own agendas into the storyline, but ends up being convoluted, with too many villains to keep track of. I had a couple of “Huh, so is he a good guy or bad guy?” moments with Kenuichio Harada (Will Yun Lee), the archer ninja who is Mariko’s protector. When the giant Transformers-like robot appears on the screen (a.k.a. The Silver Samurai), I was really thrown for a loop as to where the plot was going.
However, the movie keeps it entertaining with its awesome action sequences without overdoing it. The funeral fight, the bullet train scene and the Silver Samurai battle are just three of the heart-thumping scenes you need to look out for! Set in Tokyo, it is only fit that there are lots of katanas and samurai swords involved, Japanese style. Be prepared, there are plenty of bloody scenes though, including one of Logan cutting his own chest. I was cringing loads throughout the movie with all the stabbing going on.
The Highlight: Strong Female Characters
What I liked best about The Wolverine, though, was how it really empowered the female leads: Yukio, a deadly assassin with the ability to see the future, and Mariko Yoshida (Tao Okamoto), Yashida’s granddaughter who inherits her grandfather’s empire and is repeatedly targeted for kidnapping.
Yukio is a kick-ass katana-wielding assassin who is Wolverine’s partner-in-crime in the movie. She is strong, courageous and outspoken. Instead of just a convenient sidekick, Yukio’s character is given depth as she gets to tell her back story. Her ability to see the future also makes her a mutant, seen as an outsider even though she is in the Yashida clan. Other characters also refer to her background, making her character all the more relatable and believable.
She also has some awesome quotes:
Yukio: This sword is hundreds of years old, called “Danza” after the first samurai to wield it. “Danza” means “separator”.
Yukio: [to Logan] Think of me as your bodyguard. (I love this part, totally hilarious!)
Mariko is Yashida’s much adored granddaughter and is also Logan’s love interest. Although Mariko is clearly the damsel in distress in the movie, she manages to show her courage by fighting back against her kidnappers and utilizing her knife-wielding skills to defend herself. She is also a quick thinker, getting a veterinary student to help Logan when he is severely injured (that part was pretty funny!).
Mariko has memorable moments of her own, like when she chides Logan for sticking his chopsticks straight up in the bowl (Asians would know this, it is bad luck because the straight chopsticks resemble incense sticks in the burner). Also, when she tells Logan of her father’s arranged marriage for her: “It would be dishonourable to not obey my father. You are not Japanese, you would not understand.” Such moments really showcase her character’s backbone, going against the “I’m too weak to do anything but plead and scream for help” damsel-in-distress stereotype.
What I really appreciate is that director James Mangold didn’t use the typical Hollywood Asian female stereotype of being docile and submissive. Instead, he created two strong, independent female characters. While they have different personalities and different strengths, they both have courage, backbone, and a willingness to defend not only themselves, but also defend what is important to them.
Wolverine and Yukio Partnership?
The ending hints at a possible continued partnership between Yukio and Wolverine, which I am totally for! It would be so awesome to see them kick some ass together! Also, stay on for the after-credits scene (don’t worry, you don’t have to wait long) where cameo appearances are made by 2 key characters from the X-Men series. Definitely hints of another X-Men movie coming – I can’t wait!