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Zegen: Directed by Shohei Imamura. With Ken Ogata, Mitsuko Baishô, Chun-Hsiung Ko, Norihei Miki. A Japanese immigrant in 1901 Hong Kong wishes to become a simple shopkeeper. Fate soon intervenes, allowing him to mix adventure and fervent patriotism with greed.

“Zegen is a dark satire with adventure, comedy and drama elements directed by veteran Imamura Shohei. The movie tells the story of a Japanese man living abroad for more than forty years. He escapes from a ship where he has done tough manual labour with two friends for several years to seek a better life in Hong Kong. He initially becomes a shopkeeper and hairdresser before he gets hired as a spy who is sent to Manchuria. His mission ends in a disaster and he returns to Hong Kong as a disillusioned man. Brainwashed with patriotistic propaganda, he decides to free a group of Japanese women who have been kidnapped by pirates to work as prostitutes. He aspires to change their lives for the better but soon realizes that they need to continue to work as prostitutes to make ends meet. The protagonist soon becomes a pimp who builds Japanese brothels all across Asia while waiting for his empireu0026#39;s army to conquer the continent. When he faces increased opposition from locals and his lover leaves him for a Chinese pirate, he decides to impregnate as many prostitutes as possible in order to populate foreign countries with Japanese children. His ambitious dream approaches reality when he retreats to Malaysia with his many children and witnesses how Japanese troops conquer the idyllic island he is living on.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eZegen makes me think of the epic adventure story Papillon due to its diversified story taking place over several decades, its intriguingly adventurous locations and colourful characters. This movie here is however a satire rather than a drama. It shows how a simple labourer gets brainwashed and becomes a zealous patriot who is completely detached from reality. This is one of the few Japanese movies that seems to criticize its countryu0026#39;s megalomaniac ambitions during Meiji, Taisho and Showa eras from the beginning of the twentieth century to the Second World War. The movie covers numerous genres as we get a vibrant mixture of adventure, comedy and drama. Due to the fact that half of the movie takes place in brothels, the film features much nudity and shouldnu0026#39;t be watched by children or teenagers. However, the nudity isnu0026#39;t simply used to show some skin but to portray what life in brothels actually was like. The movie is so creative, detailed and surprising that it would have deserved to be adapated into a television series or even a novel series.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eIn the end, Zegen is a satire with vibrant characters, stunning locations and a quirky plot that comes around with quite a few surprises. Despite a few minor lengths in the second half, this movie is so creative, detailed and entertaining that it almost requests multiple views. Anyone who likes historic adventure movies such as Papillon should definitely give Imamura Shoheiu0026#39;s timeless masterpiece Zegen a chance.”


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