‘The Wolverine’ (Film)

‘THE WOLVERINE’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

Wolverine visits Tokyo

Is this the Wolverine film where Logan becomes immortal no more?

Despite ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ not being a favourite with ‘X-Men’ fans at the time of its release, the film was a box office success that it guaranteed a second Wolverine film to be made. Thus the Wolverine in Tokyo, Japan storyline the filmmakers wanted to adapt was given the go-ahead here. 🙂

I must admit, I never saw the Wolverine films when they came out at cinemas. It’s not that I didn’t like Logan/Wolverine’s character and the actor who played him – Hugh Jackman. I actually did like both actor and character in the ‘X-Men’ films he was in. But I’m not excited by ‘X-Men’ as others are.

I was also a little apprehensive about seeing a violent Wolverine film on the big screen as there was talk about the Wolverine films being more violent than standard ‘X-Men’ films. That wouldn’t happen with this particular Wolverine film since we would get that when it came to ‘Logan’ in 2017.

I’d like to think I’m braver nowadays when it comes to seeing more violent superhero movies such as the ‘Deadpool’ films and ‘Joker’. But at the time, I wasn’t really ready for it. The point I’m trying to make here is that I didn’t see ‘The Wolverine’ when it came out at cinemas in 2013, which is a pity. 😦

Despite that, I’m glad I’ve seen ‘The Wolverine’ at last on DVD in the ‘X-Men’ film collection I have – the 8 film collection, not the 10 film collection in case you’re wondering. Mind you, this review I’m doing is based on my initial experience of the film, so please forgive me for any misinterpretations. 🙂

I’ve also heard there’s an extended cut of ‘The Wolverine’ which I believe is available on some Blu-ray editions mostly from the US. I’m basing my current review on the theatrical cut of the film and will check out the extended version at a later point in my life whenever I get a chance to check it out.

Another reason why I didn’t see ‘The Wolverine’ on the big screen in 2013 was because ‘Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary celebrations were happening at the time. I was more interested in attending conventions and listening to Big Finish audios to celebrate 50 years of my favourite TV show in 2013.

More so than attending certain movies at the cinema! I may have seen ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ on the big screen, but not ‘The Wolverine’ and ‘Thor: The Dark World’ in 2013. ‘The Wolverine’ was directed by James Mangold. The director makes his first association with the Wolverine character. 🙂

James Mangold would go on to direct ‘Logan’ in 2017. ‘The Wolverine’ stars Hugh Jackman back in the role of Logan/Wolverine, and he continues to enjoy playing the character. There’s also Hiroyuki Sanada, Famke Janssen and Will Yun Lee. This film does have a pretty strong Japanese influence in it.

That might be down to the fact that ‘The Wolverine’ is based on the ‘Wolverine’ comic series by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, which involved a lot of Japanese influences. At least, the story arc from Volume 1 of the comic series was loosely adapted into ‘The Wolverine’ film, which is intriguing.

Chris Claremont was involved in a lot of the ‘X-Men’ comics in terms of writing the stories. Frank Miller reinvented Daredevil for the comics in the 1980s as well as introduced Elektra. He also reinvented Batman with ‘The Dark Knight Returns’. I’ve yet to check out that particular comic story. 😀

I find the Japanese story featured in ‘The Wolverine’ fascinating to watch. It’s intriguing what the influences of the storyline are in terms of the samurai element where Logan has to balance his animal-like instincts with the warrior part of him. There are interesting angles to explore with that. 🙂

I think it’s brave of the movie to take Logan/Wolverine in a direction where we’ve never seen him before and it’s miles apart from how the other ‘X-Men’ movies depict him. We see what the world of Toyko is like through Logan’s eyes. Sometimes it’s a beautiful place. Sometimes it’s really dangerous.

I can’t say ‘The Wolverine’ is a film that excites me when I watch it as the Japanese elements are quite unfamiliar to me. But that didn’t stop the film from being compelling, especially in terms of how Logan solves the mystery of why he’s been summoned to Toyko and what dangers he gets into.

The film begins in August 1945 where Logan is held inside a Japanese prisoner of war camp near Nagasaki. During the atomic bombing of the city, Logan saves an officer called Ichirō Yashida by shielding him from the blast. I wonder where Victor Creed is in all of this! Did he abandon Jimmy? 😀

There is a shocking moment when Logan appears all charred and blood-stained after shielding Ichirō from the atomic blast. It’s a brief moment, but it’s lucky that ‘The Wolverine’ didn’t end up becoming a 15-rated film instead of a 12-rated film. Mind you, some may prefer this being 15-rated.

The main part of the film takes place sometime after the events of ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’. This is established when Logan keeps having dreams of being in bed with Jean Grey whom he loved and killed in the third ‘X-Men’ movie. Logan also seems to be travelling alone when he is in the Yukon. 😐

That’s in Canada, in case you were wondering. Logan soon meets up with Yukio, a Japanese mutant who can foresee people’s deaths. She has come on behalf of Ichirō Yashida, who’s now the CEO of his technology zaibatsu. Ichirō is dying of cancer and wishes to say goodbye to the man who saved him.

Logan gradually agrees to accompany Yukio to Toyko where he meets Ichirō on his death bed. He also meets Ichirō’s son Shingen and granddaughter Mariko. Ichirō offers Logan a chance to have his healing abilities transferred into his body. Thus Ichirō’s life is saved and Logan is no longer immortal.

Refusing the offer, presumably because he thinks it might be dangerous, Logan prepares to leave the following day. But during the night, Ichirō apparently died. Logan attends the funeral, but granddaughter Mariko becomes endangered when some samurai warriors kidnap her at the funeral.

Thus, Logan/Wolverine becomes Mariko’s protector whilst battling deadly samurai throughout the film. But Logan has been stripped of his healing power when some poisonous gas infected him in his sleep. Logan also has to overcome the guilt he feels with killing Jean Grey in order to save everyone.

Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine continues to excel in these films. He balances the animal-like qualities of Logan with the compassionate, calmer side he has very well. It was fun how he interacted with Japanese people, despite not speaking their language as they speak English to him. 🙂

I admit; it was a challenge to keep track of what was being said between Japanese characters when it came to reading the subtitles! It’s not as bad as keeping track of various languages in ‘X-Men: First Class’. I appreciate when certain scenes featuring Japanese characters had to be done in Japanese. 🙂

It was intriguing how Logan coped with losing his self-healing powers. You can see how anxious and confused he gets, as it’s something that he’s not used to. He also works out what’s going in the film. That sometimes involves interrogation by force or when he interacts with people who are friendly. 🙂

The guilt he has for killing Jean Grey is interesting when it gets touched upon at certain points in the film. It was unusual to see him form a romantic interest with Mariko. Many of the action scenes featuring Logan/Wolverine are exciting, especially in getting to the climax as he fights Silver Samurai.

It was amusing to see him long haired and wild when he was living in the Yukon before he got forced to shave his beard and cut his hair when in Toyko. His interaction with the bear in the Yukon as well as putting him out of his misery was a nice touch. I do wonder how and why he left the X-Men team.

I mean, it’s not clearly established whether he left of his own choice and whether he didn’t feel like he was part of the X-Men team anymore. Mind you, Logan hasn’t exactly been the team player he was made out to be. He’s more of a loner, but you’d think he would be a team player by ‘The Last Stand’.

I became shocked when I saw Logan losing his metal claws from his adamantium claws. He does recover the bone claws he had from ‘X-Men Origins’. I’m wondering if that’s what Logan has now and he won’t get his metal claws back. It depends on how much is changed in the ‘X-Men’ timelines.

Just as a side note, I did see Hugh Jackman in the film ‘Les Misérables’ released before ‘The Wolverine’ came out in 2013. Knowing Hugh can sing well in ‘Les Misérables’ and ‘The Greatest Showman’, it’s a shame he didn’t get to sing in the ‘X-Men’ films. Although some would prefer that! 😀

Tao Okamato stars as Mariko, Ichirō’s granddaughter in the film. At first, she doesn’t seem to care for Logan as he comes to visit her grandfather and pay his final respects. She seems to resent Logan at first, but gradually as the film progresses, she and Logan do begin forming a bond with each other.

I would have preferred it if the film didn’t go in the direction of Logan and Mariko ending having a romance together. Whilst Mariko does seem to be a nice character in the end, it felt like an obvious direction to go into with no build-up to a romance, as is often the case with most superhero films. 😐

Rila Fukushima stars as Yukio, the mutant who summons Logan to Tokyo. She has red hair and is a pretty lethal fighter. I quite like Yukio’s character, especially when she and Logan become allies in sorting out the mystery of who killed her boss Ichirō and who’s trying to kidnap Mariko in the film. 🙂

It was tense when Yukio fought off Shingen, Mariko’s father whilst Logan used an X-ray machine to remove the robotic parasite attached to his heart that prevented him to self-heal. Thankfully, Yukio fought Shingen off long enough in order for Logan to recover. Mariko foresaw Logan’s death though.

Hiroyuki Sanda stars as Shingen, the son of Ichirō Yashida and the father of Mariko. As far as I can gather, Ichirō left his business to be handled by his granddaughter instead of his son. That’s rather unusual. Clearly Shingen isn’t happy about it, especially when Mariko tells him the news in the film.

I believe Logan witnessed Shingen hitting his daughter once he was told the news. Shingen also doesn’t warmly welcome Logan when attending his father’s funeral. He turns out to be an antagonist in the film. Incidentally, Hiroyuki Sanada later went on to play a small role in ‘Avengers: Endgame’. 🙂

Svetlana Khodchenkoya stars as Dr. Green, later revealed as Viper, a mutant who is immune to toxins and can inject them into people with her snake-like tongue. For a while, she’s the main villain who might have killed Ichirō in his sleep. I’m not exactly sure what Viper’s motivation in all of this is.

She’s certainly the one who injected a poison into Logan so that a robotic parasite could be attached to his heart to remove his healing power. It was disturbing to see Viper pull off her skin during the climax of the film and she ended up being bald. A lot of fun could be made of her snaky-like tongue! 😀

Brian Tee stars as Noburo, who is a corrupt minister of justice engaged to Mariko. I don’t think we get to see enough of Mariko and Noburo’s character relationship. Even in a standalone Wolverine film like this one, there isn’t enough time to get to know the characters to understand their motives.

I know I’ve argued about this before, but I feel the ‘X-Men’ films do struggle to develop their characters when they are so many of them. It’s good that the film focuses more on Logan/Wolverine’s character, but it’s a shame when some of the supporting characters get sidelined.

I appreciate this film is focused through Logan’s eyes and maybe if I revisited this film or saw the extended cut of it, I might appreciate the film more. But it comes across to me that Mariko has too many lovers to contend with – Noburo, Harada and Logan. It was confusing on which one she loved.

Ichirō Yashida is first played by Ken Yamamura in the 1945 scenes before he’s played by Haruhiko Yamanouchi in the main part of the film. At first, I thought Ichirō was going to be a nice person and it seemed a shame when he seemingly died. I didn’t expect the twist that would happen in the film’s climax.

I was surprised when Ichirō turned out to be the giant Silver Samurai that Logan fought in the film’s climax. Some people might not have found it a surprise, but it was unexpected for me when I saw the film. Ichirō became younger again once he stole Logan’s power and snapped his metal claws off.

Will Yun Lee stars as Harada, a former lover of Mariko and the head of the Black Ninja Clan, who is sworn to protect the Yashida family. Will Yun Lee has also been in the 2005 film ‘Elektra’. I’m not sure what the deal is with Harada’s character since it’s hard to tell whether he’s a good guy or not. 😐

First he’s helping Logan to protect Mariko, then he’s betraying Mariko to let Logan be captured by the villains, and then he goes back to helping Mariko and Logan out in the film’s climax. It was a challenge to keep track of what characters’ motivations are. The Japanese can be complex indeed. 😀

Famke Janssen stars as Jean Grey, who often appears to Logan in his dreams and sometimes acts as his conscience. Quite often, Jean can often be traumatising Logan, reminding him of how he killed her in ‘The Last Stand’. It’s also very bizarre that she often appears to him in bed whilst he’s sleeping.

I would have liked it if Jean Grey appeared to Logan in a more comforting manner rather than reminding him of the guilt he feels for killing her. Maybe that’s in the extended cut. It does seem to be a reduced role for Famke Janssen who came back to portray Jean’s ghost in Logan’s dreams here.

The film does feature some archive audio of Lynn Collins as Kayla Silverfox from ‘X-Men Origins’ to represent her character when Logan is having a dream. I wouldn’t have picked this up when watching the film. Perhaps Kayla and Victor Creed should have been in Logan’s dreams as well as Jean.

And I know this film is meant to standalone from ‘X-Men Origins’, but surely you could have got a cameo of Liev Schrieber/Tyler Mane to reprise his Sabretooth role in order to establish that Victor kept protecting his brother like he said he would. It seems to have been forgotten about in this film.

The film’s direction is very good by James Mangold, especially when the balance of drama between characters and the action-packed fight scenes between characters is established. I’d like to think fans were satisfied by that balance of drama and action, especially when Hugh Jackman led scenes. 🙂

The bullet train action sequence is quite impressive, especially when Logan/Wolverine held onto the bullet train with his metal claws. Mind you, in my humble opinion, the films ‘Mission: Impossible’ and ‘Spider-Man 2’ did that sort-of action-packed train sequence far better than ‘The Wolverine’. 😀

The locations for Japan featured in this film are beautiful. They showcase Japan’s culture and society, especially when Logan interacts with people like Mariko and Yukio to explore the Tokyo world. Not sure how much of Japan is explored in the film, but it’s a nice taster to appreciate what Japan is like.

The action-packed climax is very good, especially when you see Logan/Wolverine fighting off Silver Samurai as well as Yukio helping him out at points when fighting Viper. Mind you, the film could have easily gone into ‘Iron Man 3’ CGI territory, especially with Silver Samurai looking Iron Man-like.

That’s what I thought Silver Samurai might have been and perhaps Tony Stark from the ‘MCU’ had joined in the ‘X-Men’ film universe to make a cameo. It would be fitting if Wolverine met the Incredible Hulk at some point since he made his first comic book appearances in two ‘Hulk’ comics. 😀

There is a mid-credits scene where Logan meets up with Ian McKellen as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto and Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier. Clearly the cure didn’t work for Magneto in ‘The Last Stand’ and Xavier managed to cheat death from that film. A shame those things doesn’t get explained. 😦

I assume Logan’s meeting with Magneto and Professor X at the airport is to tie-in to the next ‘X-Men’ film called ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’. This is especially when the scene takes place two years after the events of ‘The Wolverine’ and new weapon is being developed which will threaten mutant kind.

The DVD special features are as follows. There’s ‘The Path of a Rōnin – Inspiration: A Rōnin’s Journey’, which is like a behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of ‘The Wolverine’ film. A Rōnin is a samurai without a lord or master in Japan. There’s also a theatrical trailer for the film.

On Blu-ray, as well as ‘The Path of a Rōnin – Inspiration: A Rōnin’s Journey’ and the theatrical trailer for the film, there’s an alternate ending for the film; an ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ set tour and a second screen app which provides additional bonus content accessible through either IOS or android mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. The extra Blu-ray special features depend on whether you have a standard Blu-ray set for the film, ‘The Wolverine’ 3D Blu-ray set or the extended cut of the film on Blu-ray.

‘The Wolverine’ has been an enjoyable and engaging film starring Hugh Jackman as Logan/Wolverine. It’s clearly a better film than ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ and I’m glad the plot itself was engaging enough to depict Logan in an unusual situation where he visited a new world in Toyko.

As the ‘X-Men’ film series progresses, I’m curious about what will happen to Logan next time and why Professor X and Magneto seem to need him when they warn him about a deadly weapon. Will the future become deadly the next time we meet up with Logan/Wolverine who rejoins the X-Men?

‘The Wolverine’ rating – 8/10


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4 thoughts on “‘The Wolverine’ (Film)

  1. Timelord 007

    Excellent detailed review Tim, i love this film in it’s extended cut form the fights are more brutal & there’s a whole sequence cut from the theatrical were Wolverine fights ninjas in the snow.

    My favourite Wolverine movie, the action, the set pieces, the story everythings on point however the theatrical cut left me flat as it toned down the violence, Wolverine is a violent character thankfully the Extended cut fulfilled my enjoyment & expectations.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Simon.

      Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘The Wolverine’. That’s interesting about the scene you mentioned of Wolverine fighting ninjas in the snow in the extended cut. I’ll have to check out the extended cut soon when I get a chance.

      I saw ‘Days of Future Past’ last night – the original theatrical cut mind, not the Rogue cut. I look forward to sharing my thoughts on the movie soon.

      Many thanks.

      Tim 🙂

      Like

      Reply
  2. Timelord 007

    Not just the Ninja sequence the other fights in the film are bloodier too, DOFP weird one review as Rogue Cut completely different, highly recommend you watch The Extended Cut Wolverine & Rogue Cut as there better versions of the movies.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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