The Wolverine (James Mangold, 2013)

The man with the adamantium skeleton is back. No "X-Men" word in the title, just his name, Wolverine AKA Logan goes solo for the second time after X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Hood, 2009). The comic story arc of Wolverine in Japan is well known among X-Men-philes. So expect to see Katana wielding samurai and ninjas. 

The prologue shows Logan being held captive by the Japanese troops in Nagasaki during WW2. The American B-52 bomber was coming to drop the A-Bomb, he saved Yashida's life, a Japanese soldier. Switching back to current time, we see Logan had nightmares about his former lover Jean Grey (Famkee Janssen returned, remind me of the creepy Leonardo Di Caprio character's wife in Nolan's Inception). The remorse Logan is haunted by his past, the guilt consumes him in many ways. He went for secluded life in the wild, this is where the plot picks up after the event in X-Men: The Last Stand (Ratner, 2006).

This fish-out-of-water plot shows how Logan is called upon to bid farewell to his long time friend, a dying old man Yashida, who he saved half a century ago. Yashida is grateful for Logan's deed and wants to repay him by offering something that everyone has, except him: Mortality. The so called mortality curse possessed by Logan has already been made clear in the previous X-Men Origins movie. The idea of wiping off the Wolverine's memory is essentially the same as ending his life. Things get knotty when Yashida's grand daughter, Mariko is hunted by Yakuza gangs, this is where Wolverine cross swords (or cross swords with claws for that matter) with his opponents.

If there is one movie the bankable star Hugh Jackman guarantee to carry a movie on his own, it is the portrayal of the resentful feral mutant which makes him always watchable. From the three X-men movies, to the spin-off X-Men Origins: Wolverine, down to the eye catching cameo appearance in prequel X-Men: First Class. Having said that, in this latest chapter, the lack of memorable supporting casts and the decent script let him down big time. Logan's supposedly love interest, Mariko, besides he saves her from suicide and escape with her during the funeral scene, where is their sudden mutual affection coming from? Pure bad writing, period. Then there is the red-haired Yukio, bodyguard (do not ask me why) of Logan, who serves little purpose in the movie. 

I will not be the minority who think Logan fighting with the gun-trotting Yakuza members is not as exciting as fighting with another equally matched mutants, is it? The lack of worthy villains soften the intensity factor. The blonde who played the forked tongue mutant, who I reckon her special ability is ..... spreading disease (?) and superhuman strength (?), hardly a third tier X-Men character in special power hierarchy. Are we suppose to believe she can challenge Wolverine's superiority? Then there is this finale's villain (the name I should remain a secret) disinterested me by the time the plot got to there.

The funeral set piece is one of the highlights and the prologue is the best scene in the entire movie, it just went down hill afterwards. The plot does not bring anything new to the table, aside from he is in a culturally different territory and temporary loses the self-healing power. I yawned as much as Wolverine's adamantium claws pop out from his fists throughout the movie. As far as a X-Men theme movie goes, I am surprise by the bland effort.

1 star = Pathetic, SowYau feel ashamed of watching it
2 stars = Off the mark material, approach with caution
3 stars = Generally good, you should watch it if it's your favourite genre
4 stars = Excellent, strongly recommended
5 stars = A classic status? Only time will tell. But it is definitely in SowYau's Hall of Fame List

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