K-20: The Legend Of The Black Mask

K-20: The Legend Of The Black Mask

Static Mass Rating: 3/5

Release date: January 10th 2011
Certificate (UK): 15
Running time: 132 minutes
Original language: Japanese with English subtitles

Director: Shimako Sato

Cast: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Takako Matsu, Toru Nakamura, Kanata Hongo, Yuki Imai, Takeshi Kaga, Jun Kinimura, Toru Masuoka, Reiko Takashima

Set in the fictional Japanese city of Teito, in 1949, this swashbuckling action movie plays out in an alternate universe where World War 2 never took place. It’s a place where the rich grow richer and the poor grow hopelessly poorer.

‘The Fiend With 20 Faces’, K-20, is a kind of Robin Hood character with mysterious super powers; he steals from the rich but doesn’t give to the poor and for that reason he is hated by everyone. Meanwhile the city has developed an energy beam generator which can lay waste to anything they choose to point it to.

K-20: The Legend Of The Black Mask

K-20 plots to steal the energy beam generator for his own purposes and comes up with a plan to create a diversion. He sets into motion a series of events which lead to circus performer Endo Heikichi (Kaneshiro) being mistakenly identified as K-20, arrested and sentenced to death. Endo escapes jail and sets out to prove his innocence by teaming up with an heiress, Yoko Hashiba (Takako Matsu), and Chief of Police, Kogoro Akechi (Toru Nakamura), to help catch the real K-20. In order to do that, he must become K-20!

Takeshi Kaneshiro is one of Asia’s most versatile and elusive actors. Having risen from being a teen idol in the Chinese entertainment scene, he has gone on to roles such as the faithful lover in the Japanese AIDS drama Kamisama mousukoshi dake (1998), the canned pineapple-eating cop in Chung hing sam lam (1994) and has just finished filming Swordsman which is due for release later this year.

K-20: The Legend Of The Black Mask

Directed by Shimako Sato and based on the graphic novel by Sō Kitamura K-20: Legend of the Mask is packed full of action sequences which mix the old style swashbuckling with modern CGI effects to create a film which looks like no other. There’s so much going on in every scene that it’s a shame to spend so much time reading subtitles unless you’re Japanese is really good you can then soak up the scenery.


  • Behind the Scenes
  • Casts’ Stage Greeting Part 1
  • Casts’ Stage Greeting Part 2

At over 2 hours it does feel a bit too long and could have benefited from tighter editing as there are many scenes which do not move the story along. That being said, it’s great to see Manga release something live action which is so different!

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