Number 10 Blues/Goodbye Saigon
Official Selection, International Film Festival Rotterdam 2013
Despite the signing of the Paris Peace Accords and the withdrawal of 540,000 U.S. troops in 1973, the America government kept funding South Vietnamese forces and their war against North Vietnam and Viet Cong spread across the country. Against this backdrop, Japanese businessman Toshio Sugimoto (Yusuke Kawazu, of such Japanese classics as Suzuki’s FIGHTING ELEGY and Oshima’s CRUEL STORY OF YOUTH) enjoys a leisurely existence, buying seafood in the relatively safe climate of Saigon. After accidentally killing a Vietnamese, his entire existence falls apart. Suddenly stripped of all privileges — from no. 1 to no. 10 — as well as having to put order in his love affair with the beautiful club singer Lan (“Diva of Vietnam” Lan Tanh) and falling into the Saigon underworld, one mistake at a time, Sugimoto goes into hiding. But soon, hiding isn’t enough. He must flee across a war-torn Vietnam, taking his lover Lan and newfound ally Taro (Kenji Isomura), son of an ex-Japanese soldier and a Vietnamese woman, along for the bumpy ride.
“As the Vietnam War sunk deeper into morass, another story of love and violence played out”. Better known as the screenwriter of classics such as the first two LADY SNOWBLOOD films and Kinji Fukasaku’s UNDER THE FLAG OF THE RISING SUN, Norio Osada’s directorial debut — which was recently completed by the National Film Centre of Japan, world-premiering at the prestigious Rotterdam International Film Festival earlier this year — is a never-before-seen instant classic, and dare we say masterpiece waiting to be discovered. Astoundingly shot in 1975, at the tail-end of the Vietnam War and in real battle situations, NUMBER 10 BLUES/GOODBYE SAIGON flows with the madcap energy unique to 1970s counter-culture/exploitation cinema, thrusting its hero into nightmarish perils in ways that will remind viewers of WAKE IN FRIGHT, another great “lost” film, seen at Fantasia in 2011. Examining the issue of Japanese identity and wartime race dynamics packaged within a relentless manhunt, Osada’s film is a stunning, unique insider’s look at the Vietnam War reaching its end, a vibrant document of its time, and alongside Sono’s BAD FILM, the most exciting retro discovery we have in store for you this year!
— Ariel Esteban Cayer