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Professor Yuko and the Secret of The Tomb

The Secret of The Tomb is the first of the Professor Yuko franchise series, and became available in YE 37. It was produced by Firefly Films, a subsidiary of Yukosfilm Ltd. The sucess of the film has currently led to one sequel, named Professor Yuko and the Book of Agibas.

General Information
Genre Action-Adventure
Released 16 December YE 37
Content rating PG-13, Violence and Scary Content
Directed by Hiruken Kayo
Produced by Higaro Mate
Written by Karathi Migotha, Ronald Frankton and Ioka Natheri
Story by Marcus Elester & Yoki Makora
Starring Shiba Koki, Araya Mioko, Harold Agherton and Yoshi Makote
Music by Johann Wilhelmus (Abwehran)
Cinematography Donald Gleeston
Costs ~12,5 million KS
Personnel involved ~16,000
Screen time 118 minutes
Production Company Firefly Films
Distributed by Yukosfilm Ltd
Tagline “The search for the Tomb awaits!”

Plot

The movie begins in an small village in the fictive rainforest of Lakima, where Professor Ashage Yuko (Koki), along with his assistant Mayito(Kuyina Mayori), receive an ancient tablet with inscriptions written on opening an ancient temple. After they are led to the temple by several villagers, they find the ancient temple deep inside the jungles. To enter the chamber, they must succeed in three riddles, which otherwise will result in terrible and deadly traps. Although they succeed in the riddles and enter the chamber, filled with a golden statue, they did not account for the return journey and thereby activate the traps. As they are running for their lives, avoiding closing-in walls, crumbling floors and a huge avalanche of rocks, they reach the entrance merely seconds before the temple collapses behind them. During the fleeing, the statue is lost, along with Mayito, who fell when the floor disappeared below him.

Back in his university in 1930's time Kyoto, he teaches a group of students about ancient artefacts, until one of the students, Jukia (Ashanti Kiona), asks about the “Lost Tomb of Emperor Ratakon”. While Yuko is at first startled by the sudden question, he tells the story of the tomb, until Professor Ando Gennai (Yoshi Makote) interrupts the lesson and dismisses the class. Afterwards, he tells to Jukia to stop telling these “fancy fairy-tales about a missing coffin”. Ironically, he then proceeds with saying: “Otherwise they would go looking themselves” and shows a small piece of evidence, a small piece of parchment, with a map encrypted in it. Excited for finding the tomb, Jukia decides to take a few days of to search for it.

The first piece of the puzzle leads to the massive Library of Ancient History in the ancient city of Tokyo, where professor Yuko searches for evidence of the tomb's existence, although the library's owner, Hector, specifically states there is nothing on the subject. Just as he stumbles upon a book named “The Life of Ratakon”, his search is cut short by an old rival of him, Philip Conton (Agherton), who points a gun at him. As they exchange a rather hostile conversation, Conton is hit on the head by Doctor Akagi Rieko (Mioko). Grateful for his sudden saving angel, Yuko takes Conton's gun and follows Rieko outside, where they are met by several of Conton's mercenaries. As they run from their attackers, they are called by a cloaked man to hide inside.

As the mercenaries run past, the man reveals himself to be Gennai. As they walk to a ship that will take them across the river, Gennai tells that many people are looking for the Tomb's location, and that the book is one of the few leads that can take them there. Just then, Conton finds them again, and the three companions are forced to rush to the boat. When they enter the boat, Yuko takes of in speed, while Conton and his mercenaries chase them in their own boats.

A serious battle brakes out as the two camps exchange shots, until Yuko runs out. As Conton is closing in, he rams the boat and Yuko falls into Conton's hands. Without his gun, Yuko resolves to using his fists, and pushes two mercenaries of the boat before getting to Conton. Smirking, Conton pulls out a knife and throws himself at Yuko, who barely misses it. Dodging Conton's repeating stabbings, Yuko fights with his enemy, until Rieko rams the boat and tumbles Conton. Yuko jumps back into his own boat, after which Rieko pushes away. Conton is left yelling as his nemesis gets away, before he is forced to dodge an incoming freighter.

After a time on the boat, near nightfall the trio stops at an open spot in the lush forests of the planet. As Yuko and Gennai scavenge for wood to build a camp-fire, Yuko asks about the fuzz over the Tomb. Gennai laughs at first, but then explains that the tomb holds an ancient secret: Fifteen Commandments that Emperor Ratakon himself wrote, and which in the hands of the wrong person would do great harm. As they return to the camp, Rieko is seen looking into the book. When she says to have found something, Yuko and Gennai come closer. It appeared to be a riddle in an ancient language, although Gennai is able to translate it, that says: “I have a head that forever weeps, I have a bed but never sleep, I can run but never walk, and I have a mouth but never talk. To enter one must walk a thousand strides, to the grave where the Heir resides.” although it takes some time to understand, Yuko quickly yells out: “The river!” and tells they must follow the river to it's estuary.

The next day, they continue their journey down the river, while doctor Rieko and Yuko exchange their past. Rieko claims that she has been searching for the tomb longer than anyone, for it's was her father's wish in his dying breath. A short scene cuts the talking as Conton finds the trio's former camp, and orders his men to follow the river, until they find Yuko.

As Rieko's story comes to an end, the trio's journey down the river is stopped as they approach a waterfall, at least 200 meters high. They decide to stop the boat and descend the waterfall otherwise. As they find a large staircase (A thousand strides) , Yuko comes across a frightening sight: a massive skull that sticks out of the waterfall, with the water flowing through it's eyes. As Yuko finally understands the riddle (A head that forever weeps), the stairs indeed go into the skull's mouth. As they enter, a large door presents itself before him. A riddle in the same ancient language is written on top of it: “The hole in the night, the ever watchful eye, returning in cycles, to enlighten the sky”

As the trio struggle to solve the puzzle, Conton burst in. When he saw the boat, he immediately began looking for the staircase. As Conton demands Yuko to open the door, Gennai protests, to which Conton reacts by shooting him in the chest. Gravely wounded, Gennai falls to the ground, as he clutches his wound and grasps for breath. Moved by Conton sudden move against Gennai, Yuko rushes to Gennai to aid him. As blood seeps out of his chest, Gennai urges Yuko not to reveal the secret. As Gennai casts out his final breath, Conton pushes Yuko to open the door. Although Yuko resists, as Conton puts the gun against Rieko, Yuko is forced to obey. As Yuko walks towards the door, the full moon comes out from the night sky and shines upon the door(the ever watchful eye). A doorknob comes out, and when Yuko turns it, the door opens inward.

A large chasm presents itself, as a three-way parting presents itself. In front, on a small pedestal, stands a small statue, with at it's feet engraved the words: “Those who are worthy, shall know the way. Those who are not, shall soon meet their final fate.” as Conton grows tired of these riddles, he sends down some men into the central tunnel. After a time, the company hears screaming, presuming they choose the wrong path. Driven with anger, Conton shouts to Yuko to reveal the right way, to which Yuko replies he does not know the answer. Just then, an ancient knight appears before them, as out of thin air. He asks who dares to enter his father's tomb, at which Yuko remembers the riddle (The grave where the heir hides). The knight recognises his father's riddles, and proceeds with telling Yuko that he is worthy of his father's possessions. Just then, Conton loses it and fires at the knight, although the bullets go straight trough him. The knight laughs, telling that he is no mere mortal man, and proceeds with capturing the company's weapons by telekinesis. Just then, the knight laughs again, until he disappears completely, but not before saying: “Remember. Only the worthy can unlock the secret.”

In the confusion, Yuko grabs Rieko and runs into the left tunnel. As Conton sees it, he runs after them. Yuko & Rieko appear to have chosen the right path, as it leads to another large door, engraved in it the riddle: “Created by a spark, giver of heat and light, destructor of wood and stones.” as Yuko decrypts the riddle, with answering Fire, Rieko immediately lights a torch, after which another doorknob appears. As the couple enter the room, they see the true Tomb, with the statue of Ratakon above it. Just as they approach the tomb, Conton appears again, shouting that the tomb is his prize, and his possession, once again pointing his gun at the pair. As he rants on, a ghost appears out of Ratakon's statue. He asks who interrupts his sleeping. When Conton, at first startled, rants that the ghost isn't real and that he has come to claim his prize, Ratakon rushes towards him and lifts him of the ground. Conton, confused and angry for his sudden levitation, shouts at the ghost and starts to shoot at it, to which the ghost proceeds by spitting out a poisonous fume. The fumes consume Conton alive. Shortly after, Conton's body crumbles, leaving only Conton's declining skeleton behind. Watching in terror as Conton is being gnawed alive, Yuko and Rieko hold their breath until it is done.

Ratakon, satisfied with Conton's death, turns his attention back to the couple, and begins to walk towards them until the knight reappears, asking his father to help the pair, for “ they have shown their good hearts”. Ratakon reluctantly agrees, leading Yuko to a large chest, embellished in gold. As Yuko approaches, Ratakon halts him, for a final warning. He orders him, to keep his possessions hidden. As Yuko opens the chest, he finds three golden tablets, each engraved with five rules, written in an ancient language, which Yuko cannot decipher. Yuko decides to put them into Rieko's satchel.

As they close the chest again, the tomb begins to collapse above them. As Ratakon tells them to leave, Yuko and Rieko head back to the tunnel, while the room crumbles above them. Rushing back through the tunnel, they find the body of the dead mercenaries, as well as that of Gennai, which they carry back up the stairs. As the tomb and the door collapse, the skull falls down the waterfall, to be quickly swallowed by the renewed stream of the river, until it is sunk to the bottom. The Knight and Ratakon return to the two shortly, bowing a final goodbye until the tunnel breaks above their heads. With the skull gone, nothing remains of the Tomb anymore. Yuko and Rieko, grieving over Gennai's loss, decide to return with the boat, and get away from the planet.

Back in his university, the students grieve over the loss of a favourite teacher of them. Yuko is seen standing in front of the coffin, as Head Master Mahiti(Marokin Shoa) gives her last rites. As she asks Yuko what is being done with the tablets, his only remark is: “ They have been taken care of”.

The epilogue shows a military officer, carrying the tablets in a large metal box, walking to a massive save guarded by several soldiers. As they open the save, a big hall filled with boxes is seen. As the officer walks into the room, the camera pans out and reveals the enormous size of the place.

Cast & Crew

Below the cast and crew can be found:

Cast

(In credits order)

  • Shiba Koki as Professor Ashage Yuko
  • Araya Mioko as Doctor Akagi Rieko
  • Harold Agherton as Philip Conton
  • Yoshi Makote as Ando Gennai
  • Mikato Rayen as Lead Mercenary Likathe Miki
  • Mike Wasston as Mercenary Horace
  • Yukato Mashi as Mercenary Kemo
  • Geralt Makintosh as The Knight
  • Indichi Hiones as Ratakon's ghost
  • Matt Roachell as Brute Mercenary
  • Harold Kanterton as Mercenary #5
  • Yushimata Koti as Mercenary #6
  • Victor Mattiral as Librarian Hector
  • Kuyina Mayori as Mayito
  • Ashanti Kiona as Jukio
  • Marokin Shoa as Head Master Mahiti
  • Marani Joka as Student #2
  • Nigati Moro as Student #3
  • Mogani Shoti as Villager Guide
  • Ragani Tego as Villager #2
  • Jerry Untikal as Villager #3
  • Garuda Konja as Military Officer
  • Nishuta Neko as Guard #1
  • Linato Olva as Guard #2
  • Heroka Shai as Ship Captain
  • Ueki Shun as Ship First Mate
  • Philip Shontel as Male ship passenger
  • Laura Hikey as Female ship passenger
  • Yuki Takuji as Ship passenger #3
  • Marcus Elester as Library attendant #1
  • Likaw Haito as Library attendant #2

Crew

(The crew of the film in cedits order)

  • Assistant Director: Kanji Makino
  • Executive Producers: Marcus Elester & Harry Fulcrum
  • Edited by: Victor Mastew, Julia Harford & Matthew Nigarath
  • Casting by: George F. Leward
  • Production Design: Yukate Maro & Nico Adelaine
  • Art Direction: Victor Harmaste, Hedwig Godroe & Hashito Mako
  • Set decoration: Inge Agnoste (Abwehran) & Richard Etcon
  • Costume Design: Rafid Cagnasterif (Iromakuanhe)
  • Makeup Supervisor: Gerard Mulhausen (Abwehran)
  • Director of Photography: Donald Gleeston, Likaw Haito (Jiyuu System Supervisor)
  • Sound Effects: Bob Stanton (Supervisor), Ushanti Maro (Senior Sound Mixer), Benjamin Bartolemeus (Abwehran, Senior Sound Designer)
  • Camera Operation by: Magnus Högmann (Abwehran) & Albus Haupt (Abwehran, second unit)
  • Special Effects: Lunarflix Lighting & Effects, Terry Bolder(Effects Supervisor), Rafael Kondut(Abwehran, Mechanical Effects Supervisor), Jeffrey Kandwinn(Senior Technician)
  • Visual Effects: LLE, Henry Murrel (Supervisor), Jigato Mari (Animation), Karen Mitkund (Abwehran, Model Supervisor)
  • Music Composed and Concucted by: Johann Wilhelmus & Kyoto National Symphony Orchestra, recorded at Imperial Treatre, Kyoto
  • Stunts: Chuck Falstron (Supervisor), Maruti Kenjo (Koki double), Leon Haborfath (Agherton double)
  • Script Girls: Jenny Maekon & Makino Yu
  • Marketing: Meyani Shotul (Supervisor), Riyake Mojo (Illustrations), Hikane Goji (Press Spokesman)
  • Original Screenplay by: Karathi Migotha, Ronald Frankton and Ioka Natheri
  • Story by: Marcus Elester & Yoshi Makora

Production

Below is the information for production of this film.

Development

Marcus Elester, long-time friend of Hiruken Kayo, had long had the idea of a movie based on an action hero. His short stories, named the “Adventures of Doctor Jackal”, accumulated over the years to form an extensive collection. His first attempts, in YE 29 to turn it into a full movie failed, until he pitched the idea to his friend Hiruken. Although Kayo disregarded most of the original content, with ideas like an air-plane chase or a cave deep down in the ocean, he kept several scenes for the use in the film. The first clear screenplay was written by Yoshi Makora, however he would quite the project before shooting begun. A second treatment, which kept most of the original play from Yoshi, was written by Karathi Migotha and Ronald Frankton. This would roughly resemble the final screenplay that would appear in the film.

The final screenplay was adapted from Karathi's and Ronald writing, with minimal modifications made by Marcus and Kayo. Several scenes, such as the temple at the beginning, were taken directly from Marcus' stories. Some of the characteristics of Yuko were taken from Ronald's stories, while Rieko's character changed from an depserate damsel-in-distress from Yoshi' screenplay, which involved a scene where she was rescued from a giant spider by Yuko, to a strong woman, more in line with Marcus' original design.

Filming

Principal Photography began in March YE 35 in Kyoto, where scenes for the university where shot. The burial scene was shot in front of Kyoto's Imperial University, with more than 1,600 people involved. The next scenes where filmed on Gashmere, where a massive temple set was built for the opening sequence, while the scenes from the village where shot in an abandoned native settlement. One small accident happened when the camera of Högmann overheated, causing the remainder of the scenes to be shot by Haupt's second unit. Afterwards, the entire ensemble was moved to Tokyo, on Jiyuu III, for the library scenes, as well as the boat chase. For the boat scene, a part of the river had to be closed off, to prevent the passage of other ships. In one instance, the boat which carried the second camera unit was almost toppled over by a massive freighter, but the rest of the shooting resolved smoothly. The remainder of the scenes on the river where shot on a mostly deserted part of the river. The scenes involving the tomb were shot back in Kyoto, with a massive matte painting for the wide shots of the skull and waterfall. A massive set was built for the interior of the Tomb, which was the biggest Setpiece ever made for an adventure film. The last day of shooting, in August YE 36 involved the last scene of the film, which was shot inside a massive warehouse filled with safes and boxes.

Post-production

After filming was over, several additional wide shots for Tokyo and the Village at the beginning were made by the second unit. Afterwards, visual effects were put in place by Lunarflix and include: miniatures for the boat chase superimposed over a rough sketch of the river and city; animation for The Knight and Ratakon; A matte painting for wide shots of the temple; And light effects for the scenes inside the Tomb. Special effects were added later, and involved several explosions for the boat chase; effects for the collapsing of the Temple at the beginning, as well as the Tomb at the end; and effects for Conton's death, which involved more than 50 Litres of pure cyanide fumes and several models of Agherton, which were later enhanced digitally by Agherton's appearance in the scene. The use of principal effects over digital ones was prompted both by director Kayo and Marcus, who wanted their movie to have an 'organic feeling'. The techniques used, scared Agherton so much that he “Actually thought he died in that scene.”

Sound design was added to contemplate the special effects, and a wide variety was used: to simulate the boat's sounds, Benjamin (Who would develop most of the sounds used in the film) recorded hundreds of distinctive boat sounds, which would later be mixed by Maro. Several gun sounds were recorded for the various shootings, and to produce the screams of Conton, Agherton's own voice was used, while the sound of the poisonous fumes were produced by the combination of sounds from steam engines and blast furnaces. Most of the dialogue of Makintosh and Hiones was modified, to give a darker sound to their character.

Johann Wilhelmus conducted the film's soundtrack, which was performed by the Kyoto National Symphony Orchestra. Even during production, Wilhelmus had been developing the soundtrack of the movie, and even before shooting was completed, Johann had recorded the opening music and main theme, known as “The Professor's March”. Another prominent theme is that of the Tomb, a rather dark and mysterious piece. Most of the themes empathizes of brass for Yuko's themes and the tomb scenes, strings and woodwork for Rieko and heavy emotional scenes, and percussion and brass for the boat chase. Wilhelmus' clear use of leitmotif distinguishes the different characters and scenes, with the professor's theme returning on several instruments, forming the leading tread of the soundtrack.

An exert of 'Professor March':

Track 6, 'Tokyo Chase', which involved the use of both Yuko's, Rieko, and Agherton's theme:

Critical response

The critic's responses to the film can be found below.

Box Office

Since it's opening weekend, the film has seen a massive influx of movie-goers, and grossed over 30 million KS within 3 weeks. It had regained it's production costs of 12,5 million within merely six days. With that, it became the 9th fastest earning adventure movie galaxy-wide, and the 3th fastest earning movie in Yamatai alone. In the beginning of YE 38, the movie had grossed over 250 million KS.

Critical reception

The movie received critical acclaim of almost all movie critics galaxy-wide. Kyoto Times rated the movie 94/100, and praised the “Outstanding story and sense of humour”. Renowned critic Hashotin Kuri rated the movie 4.5 stars out of 5, telling: “The excitement sets in from the beginning and continues throughout the entire story.” Yamatai Galactic Reviews rated the movie an almost perfect 97/100, greatly praising the movie for “The combination of storytelling, outstanding acting, effects and compelling score.” Online reviewers voted, out of 81 critics, an unanimous 100/100, naming “The incredible feat of combining the perfect story with the perfect actors and soundtrack.” Galactic Entertainment Weekly rated 91/100, remarking: “The makers must have had as much joy to make it, as when we watched it.”

Awards

The film was nominated for 5 Golden Lotus Awards, the annual ceremony for mainstream Film, and received three of them in the form of Best Sound Design, Best Visual Effects, and Best Original Score. It's other nomination was for Best Production Design and Best Sound Mixing.

OOC Notes

Yoerik created this article on 2016/01/26 04:23. This is inspired by Indiana Jones, so all the credits go to Steven Spielberg & Lucasfilm.

media/professor_yuko_and_the_secret_of_the_tomb.txt · Last modified: 2018/06/14 10:03 by yoerik