The Japanese really make films with a passion that’s rarely see in Hollywood fare. Asian cinema routinely has animals as a central theme in their films. Exactly 15 years ago, Ong Bak made a roar at the box office. The central theme was about a young man saving an elephant.
That Tony Ja starrer had a sequel too. Ong Bak had great action sequences, an emotional storyline and was a unique film back then. The latest animal-centric film Okja, a Netflix original doesn’t have any bone crushing action, instead it has a rivetting storyline. Does it succeed in wowing audiences? We find out.
Mija, a young Japanese girl grows up with a mutated superpig whom she calls Okja. Okja lives on a farm that Mija’s grandfather owns. All this is a programme by Lucy Mirando, the head of the Mirando Corporation. The Corporation plans to hold a competition ten years later to crown one of them as the best. A zoologist, Johnny Wilcox, selects Okja as the superpig and announces that she will be taken to New York City.
Of course, because evil corporations have infernal plans, Mirando Corporation has one. It wants to introduce a whole new form of mutated meat into the market – and Okja is one of them. Mija doesn’t have any inkling about this and just decides to get Okja back from New York City. What happens next forms the rest of the film.
What’s WOW: Okja has an amazing storyline that’s beautifully brought to the screen by the director. The film succeeds in telling an intimate, emotional story. In the process, it handles several other aspects of life, like how evil the corporate world are, how even the richest, most successful people can be flawed characters who suffer from various complexes, so on and so forth. And it does that in a stunning manner that captures the audience’s attention for its entire duration.
What amazed us is the way the director handles the film. He knows that talking about animal conservation can become tiresome after a while. So, the screenplay is part fun/part adventure in the first part. It is only in the second part that the director unleashes sequences that will leave the audience in a cold sweat.
To be fair though, Okja is a balanced and self-aware film. A story whose central theme is about animals as food, has a sequence where the fish is a staple. The central character is the one who wants ‘fish stew’, to be precise. That sequence itself shows the complicated, if noble concept that the film wants to pursue.
What’s Blah: Okja could have done with a tad bit crisper editing, apart from that, the film’s a must-watch.
Parting Shot: Okja is a must see for its emotional quotient and stunning performances..
Cast: Ahn Seo-hyun as Mija, a young farmgirl who takes care of Okja.
Tilda Swinton as Lucy Mirando, the eccentric powerful CEO of the Mirando Corporation looking to profit from Okja.
Swinton also plays Nancy Mirando, Lucy’s twin sister, the cruel former CEO of the Mirando Corporation.
Paul Dano as Jay, the leader of an animal-rights activist group, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).
Jake Gyllenhaal as Johnny Wilcox, an eccentric zoologist and TV personality.
Byun Hee-bong as Heebong, Mija’s grandfather.
Steven Yeun as K, a Korean-American animal-rights activist and ALF member, who serves as translator between Mija and the rest of the ALF.
Lily Collins as Red, an animal-rights activist and ALF member.
Yoon Je-moon as Mundo Park
Shirley Henderson as Jennifer, Lucy’s assistant.
Daniel Henshall as Blond, animal-rights activist and ALF member.
Devon Bostick as Silver, animal-rights activist and ALF member.
Choi Woo-shik as Kim, a young driver for the Mirando Corporation.
Giancarlo Esposito as Frank Dawson, an associate with the Mirando Corporation.
Studio: Netflix Original
Duration: 2 Hours
You can watch the film on Netflix Original
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