Japanese films about female boxers are becoming more common and, as evidenced by the honors now being showered on Sho Miyake’s boxing drama “Small, Slow but Steady,” they’re getting critical respect, if not yet mainstream box-office success.
But as Toshiro Saiga’s pugilistic tearjerker “Red Shoes” reminds us, a movie’s worthy intentions to represent athletes in a once lightly regarded sport are no guarantee that it’s going to be any good.
Perhaps comparisons with Miyake’s far superior film aren’t fair since Saiga’s offering is targeted at a mass audience, not the critics in the Kinema Junpo magazine poll, who voted “Small, Slow but Steady” the best Japanese film of 2022. Nonetheless, not all films made in Japan for the multiplexes are so blatant about pumping audience tears while plumping for hackneyed plot turns.
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