Umizaru 3: The Last Message (2010) Movie Review

1 Comment

Although not particularly well known internationally, the rescue diver themed “Umizaru” franchise has been hugely popular back in Japan, from its beginnings as a comic, through to a first big screen outing in 2004, subsequent television series, and 2006 sequel “Limit of Love Umizaru”, which ranked as the country’s biggest box office hit of the year. “Umizaru 3: The Last Message”, the third and final entry in the series, was an even more lavish blockbuster style affair, being one of the few Japanese films to have been converted to 3D for the big screen. The film saw the return of director Hasumi Eiichiro and scriptwriter Yasushi Fukada along with lead stars Ito Hideaki (who also flirted with disaster in “252: Signal of Life”), Kato Ai (“The Triumphant General Rouge”), Sato Ryuta (“Gachi Boy”), and was duly another massive commercial success.

Ito Hideaki reassumes his role as Daisuke, now captain of the rescue diver team and married to girlfriend Kanna (Kato Ai), who has just given birth to their first child. Considering quitting his dangerous career to look after his family, Daisuke is called back into action for his toughest challenge yet, after a giant offshore gas platform is struck by a drilling ship, causing a chain reaction of explosions. After he and his men arrive on the platform, they find themselves cut off from the rest of the rescue fleet, the platform sinking and a typhoon on the way. At the same time, they come under fire from government bureaucrats who order them to try and save the platform in the name of the national interest, even if it costs them their lives.

Anyone who hasn’t seen or even heard of the previous entries in the “Umizaru” series need not fear, as “The Last Message” is at heart very much a straightforward disaster movie, and although fans will obviously get more out of the characters and their relationships, it still works perfectly well for newcomers. The film does have a more interesting setup than other recent genre outings, mainly by being more grounded and believable, avoiding any over the top doomsday type scenarios and focusing mainly on its likeable protagonist. Similarly, the film doesn’t overpopulate itself with the usual ensemble cast of walking clichés, and achieves a good level of camaraderie between Daisuke and the rest of his team. At over two hours it probably could have done with some trimming, in particular of the rather pointless scenes involving Kanna basically sitting around at home and waiting for news, though even its most melodramatic excesses and tangents are never too offensive.

Perhaps most importantly, the film really delivers in terms of spectacle, with some of the best visuals seen in a Japanese-made blockbuster to date. Although the 3D obviously doesn’t count for much on the small screen, the film has some genuinely thrilling set pieces and awesome shots of the crippled gas platform as it slowly creeps closer to destruction. Director Hasumi Eiichiro wisely never leaves it too long between incidents, and the film does get pretty tense as it progresses, with everything imaginable going wrong and survival for all seeming increasingly unlikely. At the same time, the script never loses sight of its characters, and though there are plenty of explosive action scenes it never comes across as a simple rollercoaster ride. The special effects themselves are uniformly top notch, and although Eiichiro does go a little overboard with the slow motion at times, this never causes too much of a problem.

For followers of the series, “Umizaru 3: The Last Message” is obviously a no-brainer, ending it on a suitably show stopping and emotionally satisfying note while serving up the same brand of character based excitement. Thanks to a big heart and some amazing production values it should also be enjoyed by disaster movie fans in general, with enough fireworks and human drama to keep it afloat through its slightly overstretched running time.

Eiichiro Hasumi (director) / Yasushi Fukuda (screenplay), Shuho Sato (manga)
CAST: Hideaki Itô … Daisuke Senzaki
Ai Katô Ai Katô
Shôhei Miura Shôhei Miura
Ryûta Satô Ryûta Satô
Sohee Park Sohee Park … Dong Il Lee

Buy Umizaru 3: The Last Message on DVD

Author: James Mudge

James is a Scottish writer based in London. He is one of’s oldest tenured movie reviewer, specializing in all forms of cinema from the Asian continent, as well as the angst-strewn world of independent cinema and the plasma-filled caverns of the horror genre. James can be reached at jamesmudge (at), preferably with offers of free drinks.
  • Linda Shi

    Hi, I came across your review while I was searching for downloads for this movie.

    Anyway, I just wanted to share my opinion about your review…although I agree with your review for the most part, I disagree with you about Kanna’s scenes which you had deemed as “pointless”, because i do not believe they were. Throughout the movie, we were shown how Daisuke deals with his conflicted emotions of commitment to his job and missing his family whom he loves so much.
    To me, I think Kanna’s scenes in the movie where she’s shown being at home with their son also plays a significant part in the movie, because those scenes show us how she’s coping with her anxiety about Daisuke’s safety & all the dangers that come with his profession. I think those scenes with Kanna at home also further compounds the strong bond the couple has & how deep their love is.

    Like all the previous movies, ‘Umizaru 3: The Last Message’ focuses alot on Daisuke’s relationship with Kanna.
    So I do not believe that those scenes of Kanna at home were “pointless” at all, certainly not the scene when she was listening Daisuke’s heartfelt message he had pre-recorded for her. I also doubt the movie’s depiction of the couple’s relationship would’ve been as strong if those scenes of Kanna were cut from the movie.
    I think some of the main attractions of the ‘Umizaru’ movies many people love are the spectacular visual effects & action scenes & the great characters. But Daisuke’s relationship with Kanna plays a very significant role in the Umizaru series, it’s also 1 of the main reasons that many fans of the Umizaru movies love about it.
    So if they were to cut out those scenes with Kanna at home, it just would not seem right to me & the story would feel a little lacking in that perspective.

    I personally don’t mind the longer duration of the movie, as I think it was put together & filmed very well overall with very little scenes I felt were “pointless”.
    But I do agree with the rest of your review about the spectacular & realistic action scenes & visual effects, and the well-developed characters.