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Oar (1985)

Kai (original title)
The story of Iwago, a troubled Japanese man who has grave personal problems and strained relationships with his wife and step children.


Hideo Gosha


Tomiko Miyao (novel), Kôji Takada
8 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ken Ogata ... Iwago Tomita
Yukiyo Toake Yukiyo Toake ... Kiwa Tomita
Yûko Natori Yûko Natori ... Someyu
Mariko Ishihara Mariko Ishihara ... Kiku
Jun'ichi Inoue Jun'ichi Inoue ... Ryutaro (as Junichi Inoue)
Kimie Shingyôji Kimie Shingyôji ... Tomokichi
Mari Shirato Mari Shirato ... Teru Matsui
Ryûzô Tanaka Ryûzô Tanaka ... Kentaro
Naomi Fujiyama Naomi Fujiyama
Shinsuke Shimada Shinsuke Shimada ... Takeichi
Miyuki Kanô Miyuki Kanô
Kinzô Sakura Kinzô Sakura
Kaori Takahashi Kaori Takahashi ... Ayako
Ryûji Katagiri Ryûji Katagiri ... Kimoto
Aoi Nakajima Aoi Nakajima


The story of Iwago, a troubled Japanese man who has grave personal problems and strained relationships with his wife and step children.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

based on novel | See All (1) »









Release Date:

15 January 1985 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

La proie de l'homme See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Toei Company See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

Not one of the great master's high points.
8 July 2009 | by chaos-rampantSee all my reviews

1985 was a hallmark year in the career of a director who has all but evaded the critical recognition he deserves in the Occident but who steadily and successfully climbed the ladder of Japanese cinema going from programme genre pictures to sprawling, complex, multiplotted, prestigious releases like this in a matter of 20 years. KAI, the third and final Tomiko Miyao adaptation Hideo Gosha filmed in the 80's after YOKIRO and ONIMASA, along with USUGESHO released also the same year earned the two films a total sum of 14 nominations in the Japanese Academy Awards.

A further testament to the fact that Awards (however prestigious they might be) are rarely a mark of actual quality and more often a mark of belated talent recognition by various cliques of fuddy daddies long out of touch with their times, KAI is far from Hideo Gosha's best work. It plays like a glorified two-hour soap opera episode and is in all respects, stylistic or narrative, toned down (I won't say dumbed because predictability is not a mark of 'dumbness') to appeal to a large demographic. Perhaps he expended all his boldness in the more risqué crime story of the same year's USUGESHO (which resembles Imamura's VENGEANCE IS MINE in more ways than one, not least of all in Ken Ogata's brooding presence as killer on the loose) so that KAI is left to bring the rear with a conventional drama that never steps out of the box.

To Gosha's credit, both the mid-film and actual film climaxes resonate with emotional power but the inbetween bits never rise to the occasion. It's all a dull succession of scenes meant to show the shifting relationships within a family led by a womanizing patriarch (played by Ken Ogata in one of his typical monomaniac roles) and the wife who suffers with quiet dignity before rebelling against him, propelled forward by not one but two 10 Years Later jumps in time, and touching on a variety of characters that never take centerstage long enough to become flesh and bones.

The clash between Ogata and the rival yakuza boss who killed his son foreshadowed in the mid-film climax proves to be horribly anticlimactic while other characters like step daughter Kiku vanish for long stretches of time. It's too sprawling and thinly stretched to really come together, even though it kind of does in the end, when it's sadly too little too late. Filmed in the disciplined, unobtrusive, invisible style Gosha favoured in his later day (which, for all its effectiveness, makes one yearn the wild explosion of style and colour of films like GOYOKIN), KAI is not a bad film but it's predictable and just not very interesting.

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