Live action comic book adaptations are clearly all the rage with Marvel not only dominating the box office, but also shattering all records. So why shouldn’t Japanese manga books get their turn? Enter, Kingdom, brought to life from the pages created by Yasuhisa Hara, who also co-wrote the screenplay.
Kingdom follows the life Li Xin (Kento Yamazaki) a boy orphaned by war and dreams of rising from his low, social status as a servant boy by becoming a great military general. Xin befriends a boy destined to become the Qin emperor, Ying Zheng (Ryo Yoshizawa), who proves to be a critical ally on Xin’s journey to greatness.Together, the young men seek to reclaim Zheng’s throne and unite the warring states under a single ruler.
I have never read the manga, so I cannot give a fair comparison of how loyal the live action film is to the source material, but knowing anything about anime adaptations, I would hope that this stays relatively close to the original works of Hara, especially with his direct involvement.
What I can tell you is that visual are absolutely gorgeous, especially the use of natural light, tremendous martial arts choreography and a story as old as time, the desire to ascend to greatness, beyond the lower status you were born into and not allowing yourself to be a victim of your own circumstance.
The bond created between Xin and Zheng pulls you in and allows you to believe that these two young men are living in Middle Ages (even with several extremely unrealistic and supernatural situations). You cheer their victories as they climb the mountain to achieve their goals without selling their souls for power.
Kingdom has already seen a Japanese release, earning over $6 million is U.S. currency. The film has Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan teaming up with the Austin, TX based anime distributor Funimation to bring the picture to the U.S. and Canadian market.
Kingdom has a limited release in the United States and Canada on August 16, 2019 and will hit the home entertainment market soon after.
Kingdom rises above the social classes one is born into and allows the characters to develop and grow while not compromising their morals. It is a beautifully shot, action film that has more substance than one would expect, making the 2 hour 14 minute run time fly by.