At the end of the era of classic samurai drama TV shows, a couple of old actors at a Japanese studio are struggling to keep it alive just a bit longer. When a new, modern show is being filmed, everything is changing. Seiichi Kamiyama is one of the legendary actors who has perfected the skill of dying on film, but there is no place for an old man in television for the young.
In Japanese cinema, especially in samurai films and TV, there's a specific kind of actor whose part is to get killed on screen without stealing much of the show. This is a craft that some actors excel at and become professionals. The lead actor of "Uzumasa Limelight", Seizo Fukumoto, is one of these actors. He has trained to be killed on film, and "Uzumasa Limelight" is a movie that is centered on this concept.
Seizo Fukumoto stars as an aging samurai film and TV actor named Seiichi Kamiyama. He works at one of the biggest studios of Japan, and has specialized for decades to be killed on film. When a long running samurai drama TV show is ending, Kamiyama and many of his co-actors are too old to fit into the new shows that are being produced. The classic samurai drama's are no longer what they used to be, and modern ideas and young popstar actors replace the martial art skilled legends that preceeded them. "Uzumasa Limelight" is a thank you and tribute to all the fine actors who spent their lives learning the swordfighting skill, and that's both its literal plot and its message to the audience.
Truth be told, "Uzumasa Limelight" deals with a genre that I am not very involved in, but it is one of the most moving movies I've seen in a year. It's a strange kind of emotion watching this, because part of me is sad for the realities of old people being replaced and losing their place in life, but at the same time it moves me in a positive way because the movie is made to honor them. It's hard not to take this movie to heart, even with its flaws. It's a movie that beats its theme over your head over and over again, but I wouldn't want it any other way. It's a beautiful movie. It's a complete homage to a skill and I am happy to have spent almost 2 hours with this.
Everyone in the movie, characters and actors portraying them, are excellent and I just can't say anything bad about a movie like this. I find it hard to understand someone who wouldn't relate to it, because while the theme is centered on a specific craft, the idea of it is universal: the world is for the young. All you can ever hope for is that you love what you do even when you are old. No one can take that away from you.
There are no tricks up the sleeves here, this movie is exactly what you think it will be after 5 minutes. It's not a movie that is trying to win awards or break new ground. It is, in every way, made as a tribute. I understand if that could bore some people, but I loved it. It's done with an incredible amount of hope, love and respect for the Japanese cinema culture and its actors. It's a very sweet movie that fills you with emotions. Don't miss this movie if you respect the professionals of the film industry, no matter what area of expertise they have. Everyone have to go through seeing the great talented artists that they grew up admiring dying, retiring, etc. and this film sort of deals with that in a very nice way.