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Directed by Kenji Uchida
  • YEAR 11 - FILM 8 / 
  • Japan / 
  • 2012 / 
  • Japanese with English subtitles / 
  • 128 min
KEY OF LIFE DVD & Online Streaming
Member Pricing
DVD $14.95 $11.95
Stream $2.99
Non-Member Pricing
DVD $24.95 $19.95
Stream $3.99
"Breezy rhythm, witty dialogue and excellent thesping chemistry...a chessboard of ingenious subplots!"
– Maggie Lee, Variety
"Intelligent, amusing, and casually touching."
– Kong Rithdee, Cinema Scope
"Sweet, satisfying and very funny!"
– Beyondasiaphilia


A case of stolen identity and one determined bride-to-be intersect in this comedic escapade from famed Japanese filmmaker Kenji Uchida. Struggling actor Sakurai is out of work, out of luck and can't even succeed at taking his own life. When a mysterious man slips and falls at the bathhouse, Sakurai switches locker keys and identities with the man, who turns out to be a hit man named Kondo. His memory lost in the fall, Kondo begins piecing 'his' life as Sakurai back together with the help of Kanae, a young woman he meets in the hospital, who is determined to find a husband. Meanwhile, Sakurai, posing as Kondo, incurs the wrath of ornery gangsters. As the truth about Kondo and Sakurai comes to light, they must scramble to resolve the chaos of this topsy turvy chain of events.

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Customer Reviews

Leon - Customer Review
Saw this at the SF International FIlm festival. Highly recommended, very well written

Jeff in Seattle - Customer Review
An elegant comedy of misidentity! I'm always a sucker for comedies involving mixed up identities, but getting mixed up as a hitman? That made this film highly anticipated for me! This film didn't disappoint me! Also, I didn't expect this film to have an element of a romantic comedy in it as well! Don't miss out on this film!

Paul Allaer - Customer Review
"Key of Life" (2012 release from Japan; 128 min.) brings the story of 3 people and how their lives unexpectedly become intertwined. As the movie opens, we meet Kanae, a 34 yr. old magazine editor who announces boldly that she is getting married in two months. The only problem left to solve is to find a suitable candidate-husband... Afterwards we meet Takeshi, a 35 yr. old aspiring actor who is down on his luck and we just saw failing miserably when he tried to commit suicide. Last we meet Kondo, a ruthless hit man whom we see carrying out his latest hit. Takeshi and Kondo end up going to the same public bathhouse, and when Kondo slips on a soap bar, he hits his head very hard, and loses all memory. In an impulse, Takeshi switches locker keys, and in effect switches identities with Kondo, of course not realizing that he is stepping into the identity of a hit man. Kanae visits the hospital where her father is gravely ill, and where Kondo is recovering. Fate is such that the two meet. To tell you much more of this plot-heavy movie would ruin your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out. Several comments: even though it tackles a lot of serious issues, this movie is first and foremost a comedy, and at very funny one at that. I found myself laughing out loud a number of times during the movie. Second, with the two lead male roles switching identities, I couldn't help but be reminded of that movie from now 30 (!) years ago, "Trading Places" with Eddie Murphy and Dan Ackroyd. "Key of Life" indeed feels like a Japanese variation of the same theme. Third, kudos to writer-director Kenji Uchida who pulls it all together very nicely, with a perfect cast including the delightful (and beautiful) Ryko Hirosue in the role of Kanae. This movie has a lot going for it, and kept me entertained from start to finish. But wait! there is more! As usual, the DVD comes with a bonus shortie, and this month's shortie is an equally entertaining 8 min. feature from Hungary called "Finale" in which we get to know two guys sitting at a bar. What are they discussing? Just watch! Bottom line: if you are in the mood for a quality foreign movie that I guarantee will make you smile if not out-loud laugh, you cannot go wrong with this. "Key of Life" is a welcome addition to the ever-growing Film Movement library of foreign and indie movies. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


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KEY OF LIFE Movie Photo
Sakurai (Teruyuki Kagawa), Kanae (Ryoko Hirosue), and Kondo (Masato Sakai)
KEY OF LIFE Movie Photo
Sakurai (Teruyuki Kagawa)
KEY OF LIFE Movie Photo
Kondo (Masato Sakai)
KEY OF LIFE Movie Photo
Kanae (Ryoko Hirosue) and Kondo (Masato Sakai)
KEY OF LIFE Movie Photo
Kondo (Masato Sakai) Sakurai (Teruyuki Kagawa) and Kanae (Ryoko Hirosue)
KEY OF LIFE Movie Photo
Sakurai (Teruyuki Kagawa)
KEY OF LIFE Movie Photo
Director Kenji Uchida
KEY OF LIFE Movie Photo
KEY OF LIFE Official Artwork
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