Liar Game: The Final Stage

Directed by Hiroaki Matsuyama and adapted from Shinobu Kaitani's popular manga, Liar Game: The Final Stage is the movie finale to its psychological thriller drama series.

Nao Kanzaki (Erika Toda) is a simple girl who is honest almost to a fault. The backdrop and basis of the manga and the accompanying drama series as well as movie is set with her stubborn belief in a kind side of human beings despite contrary experiences in her life. She could have lived a blissfully ignorant life if not for a box of 100 million yen, which appeared out of the blue at her doorstep. No thanks to this uncalled for fortune, she struggles to be free of the Liar Game, a game whereby poor participants are to swindle each other out of their 100 million yen.

The dark knight in question would naturally be a top swindler – in this case, it's Shinichi Akiyama (Shota Matsuda). The stoic hero of few words has a soft spot for the girl who reminds him of his equally naive mother and he expertly rescues her from financial ruin, leading her safely through various rounds of the game. Here then lies the intelligence of the manga and drama series, which has captured the attention of millions of viewers and propelled it to be one of the top drama series and movies in Japan.

In this movie finale, the theme of the final round is ironically to "believe in each other's hearts" – for everyone to escape unscathed, players are to trust and cooperate with each other. But easier said than done, mistrust ensues with an unknown Player X, who is known to be ruthless and out to win.

Compared to the drama series, Nao has evolved to be more confident – taking the initiative to rally and even lead the other participants – though still holding on to her beliefs that humans can be kind to each other to the point of being self-sacrificial in the movie finale. Akiyama, on the other hand, broke out of his shell and showed considerably more emotions as well as facial expressions. Colourful characters like dramatic Mushroom-san brightens up the dark and serious mood too, assisting in creating a well-balanced and enjoyable movie experience.

It's almost impossible to write a review without spoiling the ending for readers but one could be assured of a satisfying and exciting experience full of unexpected twists and turns as well as mature performances from the actors.

Related link: Wikipedia – Liar Game

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