NEW YORK: Hugh Jackman battles Ninja warriors, trounces a monster Samurai and rescues a Japanese heiress but still manages to show a softer, vulnerable side of the comic book superhero in The Wolverine, the newest film in the X-Men series.
The movie, which opens in US theatres on Friday, marks the sixth time the 44-year-old Australian actor, who seems as comfortable singing and dancing on Broadway as defeating bad guys on the big screen, is portraying the silver-clawed, self-healing, century-old mutant.
“I am enjoying playing him more than ever. We are focusing on this character and on his journey,” said Jackman, who earned a best actor Oscar nomination for his role in the 2012 historical musical Les Miserables. “This is a real, true character story.”
The film is the second in the highly profitable X-Men series that focuses solely on Wolverine. It follows 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which had mixed reviews but pulled in more than $374 million worldwide.
In the latest film, Jackman’s down-and-out Wolverine character Logan is lured to Japan by a feisty, punk-style martial arts expert, played by newcomer Rila Fukushima, to bid goodbye to a dying, powerful Japanese industrialist he had saved decades earlier.
Wolverine barely has time to adjust to modern-day Japan with its bustling traffic, neon signs and sleek buildings before he is thrust into an ancient world of rituals and customs. He battles Yakuza criminals, Ninja warriors and the villainous mutant Viper, and saves Mariko, the mysterious heiress and his love interest, played by Japanese model Tao Okamoto.
Jackman sees Wolverine as an anti-hero, whose powers come from an emotional place. He said it’s not Wolverine’s steel claws, healing powers or weird hair that is his defining characteristic. It’s his rage.
“There is unresolved anger in all these characters, all of them,” Jackman said about the comic book characters. “They somehow use that dysfunction, that pain, that indecision, all the things that are within become their strength, and become their defining quality. With Wolverine, as you see in this film, it’s as much a burden as it is a superpower or a great thing.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2013.
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