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Posted under Japanese Movies by admin on Saturday 28 February 2009 at 01:08

Aka: Sumairu seiya no kiseki
Year: 2007
Directed: Takanori Jinnai
Genre.: Family
Runtime: 108mins
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Subtitles: English
Cast: Natsuki Harada, Rosa Kato, Kumiko Mori, Mirai Moriyama, Anri Okamoto


Japan’s answer to The Mighty Ducks, Smilers (a.k.a Smile – Seiya no Kiseki) is the second feature film from actor-turned-director Jinnai Takanori. Children’s ice hockey and rock ‘n’ roll might not have too much in common, but Smilers is infused with the same misfit humor, zero-to-hero cheer, and universal appeal as Jinnai’s previous film Rockers. Though hockey can’t compare to baseball and soccer in popularity in Japan, the sport has found its dedicated fans, none the least Jinnai who spent eight years working on Smilers, from writing the story to eventually directing the film. Rising star Moriyama Mirai (Crying Out Love, In the Center of the World) leads the cast, along with Kato Rosa (Night Time Picnic, Catch a Wave) and a winning team of young actors.

After a career-ending injury, tap dancer Sano Shuhei (Moriyama Mirai) finds himself in snowy Hokkaido, looking to marry his girlfriend, figure skating instructor Shizuka (Kato Rosa). Unfortunately his plans are put on thaw by Shizuka’s disapproving father who has no intentions of marrying off his daughter to anyone anytime soon. Father dearest eventually agrees to let the couple tie the knot if Shuhei can coach the local junior hockey team Smilers to victory at the regional championships. Despite knowing nothing about the sport, Shuhei gamely takes on the challenge, which is more than can be said of his players. Without a smiler in the bunch, the Smilers have never even won a single match. Using atypical methods, Shuhei manages to get his scrappy team of discouraged misfits into some semblance of talent and teamwork, but will it be enough to beat the corporate-sponsored reigning champion, not to mention his stubborn father-in-law?


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