Looking for something cinematic for the weekend? Ryuichi Hiroki’s “Ride or Die,” which was released worldwide on Netflix on Thursday, is likely to get people talking in a way that few of the streaming giant’s Japanese originals have managed so far, predicts James Hadfield.

“The film is a torrid, emotionally bruising tale of sexuality, class, domestic abuse and murder, featuring a pair of extraordinarily committed performances by its stars, Kiko Mizuhara and Honami Sato,” writes Hadfield, who spoke to the two actresses via Zoom about the challenging roles.

Mark Schilling is also full of praise for the two stars (and generous with his own reviewer’s stars). “These two bring a total commitment to their intimate scenes, at which former pinku eiga (erotic film) director Hiroki is a master, giving a deeper, explicitly sensual meaning to their characters’ passion and fate,” he writes.


Staying with, er, screen violence, next up is Keisuke Yoshida’s “Blue.” While it may not be the greatest boxing movie to have come out of Japan, it’s definitely the most honest — and understated — according to reviewer Hadfield.

“The director has been boxing for 30 years, and his screenplay evinces both a deep love for the sport and a determination not to romanticize it,” he writes. “Although he can’t resist the odd training montage, soundtracked by soaring rock guitars … there’s barely an ounce of sentiment here.”

And finally, Daihachi Yoshida brings a sympathetic lens to a publishing industry in crisis in “Kiba: The Fangs of Fiction.” Asked by Hadfield about how life has imitated art — over 100 Japanese mags have folded amid the pandemic — Yoshida says, “It’s not what I’d hoped for, but I feel like the situation has gotten worse. The reality is now even closer to what’s depicted in the film.” (For more, read Schilling’s review, previously featured in T5.)