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2084. After decades of intense fighting, an alien invasion force is close to destroying what's left of the world. In a last-ditch effort to save the human race, a guerilla fighter named Milly leaps into a waiting Time Shifter. With the Alien Wars set to begin in 72 hours, she tricks Miyamoto, a skilled martial-arts expert and gunman, into joining her cause. Together the two launch an all-out assault on the local crime lord who's captured a spaceshipand imprisoned its extraterrestrial pilot. Now the Returner and her partner must free the captive alien before warships begin to attack the planet in this sci-fi thriller packed with dazzling special effects and blazing martial arts action.
There's not a single original idea in Returner, but that doesn't stop this Japanese sci-fi action thriller from being a whole lotta fun. Combining elements of (what else?) The Matrix, E.T., The Terminator, and Independence Day, plus a dash of Back to the Future (among others), the mayhem begins when scruffy survivor Milly (Anne Suzuki) uses a time portal to leap from 2084--when humans are being systematically wiped out by invading aliens--to 2002, where she hooks up with a gunslinging maverick (Takeshi Kaneshiro) whose swirling overcoat and hair-trigger attitude make him the live-action equivalent of the quintessential anime hero. Together, they thwart a Yakuza psychopath (played with hilariously laconic nihilism by Goro Kishitani) who's attempting to steal a recovered alien spaceship to exploit its highly advanced weaponry. In its race to avoid an end-of-the-world scenario, Returner throws in just about everything from the sci-fi anime repertoire, and director Takashi Yamazaki blithely and blatantly shifts from juvenile sentiment to violent brutality, resulting in a clash of tones that makes Returner wildly entertaining but decidedly not for children. Utterly derivative but worthwhile for sci-fi and anime fans, it's a noteworthy case of clever recycling, with energy and ammunition to spare. --Jeff Shannon
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The spoilers would include the advertised fact it is science-fiction, time travel, and Aliens Attacking Earth (all in caps) with a totally unprepared young woman as the ultimate hero of a battle to save our world.
The actors are well chosen, and when you watch the DVD extras it only makes you realize how good they are-- there was almost no wire work, and the impossible leaps are shown in the practice sessions so you can see how they did them.
Okay, it may not be the best movie of this kind ever made, but even if the movie isn't a world beater, the DVD extras are worth the cost as you get to see how they made X yen look like X time ten yen on the screen.
"Independence Day" (big giant spaceships that hover over earth and small alien craft that are extremely fast and powerful)
"Transformers" (large jumbo jets and jet fighters that transform into alien spaceships)
"E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial" (lost and dying single alien just wants to return home)
"The Matrix" (slo-mo gun battles & flowing, black trenchcoats elegantly worn by lead Takeshi Kaneshiro as Miyamoto)
"The Terminator" (a girl, Milly, goes back in time to stop the alien invasion from wiping out mankind and creating a dystopian future)
"Back To the Future" (time travel plotline gets a little love when we see that our heroine has traveled back into the past more than once...)
"King Kong Escapes" (Mizoguchi the villain, a kooky gonzo gangster that you'll love to hate, is played with incredulous verve by Goro Kishitani, an actor with facial features and white hair make-up that channels KKE's villainous Dr. Who in both looks and maniacism)
"The Godfather" (internal strife within a triad/ mobster's holdings leads to death)
"Pretty Woman" (Milly, all slovenly dressed and streaked with dirt and sans makeup, is ecstatic to get a makeover)
"Mission Impossible 2" (John Woo style slo-mo gun ballets with a scene of a backward-flipped motorcycle drawing a gun on its pursuers)
"The Replacements Killers" (Miyamoto is an assassin who takes on, begrudingly, Milly as his client)
And more! There are so many movie tropes from so many different types of movies (say, Hong Kong gangster flicks or karate revenge yarns) that the "Returner" is just fun to watch and try to figure out what movie they stole a particular scene or idea from. That being said it works surprisingly well on its own merits and storyline. A fun movie to watch and one you'll want to revisit, with friends, from time to tme. Let me know what movie you spot in this one! Have fun.
Milly encounters Miyamoto (Takeshi Kaneshiro) and forces him to help her prevent the alien attack that will occur in the near future. Takeshi Kaneshiro does an excellent role as Miyamoto. However, Miyamoto has problems of his own with the psychotic Japanese mob boss Mizoguchi (Goro Kishitani) And it is Mizoguchi that has much to blame for the earth's predictament in the future. He was the one responsible for keeping the alien that lands on earth captive. Which in turn, precipitated the war. You name any sci/fi fantasy in the last 20 years, odds are that it was thrown in the movie. The dubbing is great [I prefer subtitles] I recommend the movie, it's a fun watch.