With a myriad of streaming services at our deposal, a great many online resources and active film communities, it has become increasingly simple to watch cinema from all around the world. Whilst you can see the latest Asian blockbuster in many cinemas, buy direct from Asia and watch online, Japanese independent cinema has remained relatively impenetrable. Very few offerings reach our shores and when they do, they are often misunderstood or overlooked. However, Japanese directors have been making some of the most ground-breaking, innovative and exciting cinema for decades. Hard-Core is a prime example of this often oddball approach.

It would be fair to say that Ukon Gondo (Takayuki Yamada) is a loner. He does not like people and he goes out of his way to avoid them. Apart from Ushiyama (YosiYosi Arakawa) who he feels a strange bond with and determination to protect. The pair are gold miners, working for a mysterious owner and a tyrannical foreman. When one day they discover a robot in an abandoned factory, he becomes one of the crew and Ukon’s younger brother (Takeru Satoh) takes an interest.

Hard-Core is a leftfield comedy about brotherhood, isolation and the things which bring us together. It’s the camaraderie between Ukon and Ushiyama which forms the central focus of Nobuhiro Yamashita’s film. Treasure hunters trying to find the purpose in their work which is lacking in their own lives. Hard-Core is a wonderfully refreshing and drily comedic take on ‘fraternity’ and being outsiders.

Hard-Core screened at Fantasia Festival 2019.