Before I watched the film, “We Are X”, I did not know how big X Japan was, nor do I know who Yoshiki is.
One day in December 2016, I was about to watch another movie at a cinema in Hong Kong. A word “SOLD OUT” on one of the TV screens at the ticket counter area caught my attention. I got curious and found out that it was showing the status of the Special Screening of the film “We Are X”.
The poster of the film showed a drummer standing on top of the drum-set, and the description stated that it was a film about the band, X Japan. X Japan, I remember seeing their vinyl album cover back in the 80s, they were heavy metal rock band from Japan. That was all I knew about the film and the band. I did not know anything about Yoshiki.
Since I started learning drums recently, I thought watching it could be of something interesting. Out of curiosity, I bought myself the last ticket left of the next show. As such, I bumped into this film by total accident.
An accident that changed my perspective to life, changed my attitude to life, and changed my approach toward life.
People say that they watch this movie because of X Japan, or because of Yoshiki. To the entire opposite, I watch it because I know absolutely nothing at all about X Japan nor have I heard any songs being composed, performed, arranged, played, or produced by its bandleader, Yoshiki.
Yet, after watching the film, I keep watching the film. After start listening to X Japan and Yoshiki’s music, I cannot stop listening to their music.
Now, I have a strong feeling that I have wasted the past 35 years of my life NOT listening to X Japan and Yoshiki’s songs. I feel that I have lost the precious time of the past years not enjoying the best music possible found on earth. I regretted genuinely not knowing Yoshiki earlier for the admiration of his skills of drum playing; for the discovery of cross-boundary mix of classical and rock music; plus, for the appreciation of his passion and dedication for music and piano playing so I could be practicing piano more persistently when I was a little kid.
The excitement, brings to me from a film, is that I do not know what is going on and what might appear next on the big screen. I like surprise. The fact that I know completely nothing (but their name) about X Japan brought me mind-blowing experience watching this film. I was in shock, during and after, watching this film.
Although the film appears to be presented in piecemeal format and a timeline not too easy to follow, I find it inescapably represents what it is trying to talk about: Life. Life, as a matter of fact, is always unexpected, out of order, and fragmented; things in life could happen quite suddenly and abruptly, often similar to this manner. The way the director edits the film might have messed up the logical mindset of the audience, yet indeed it fits the mood and rhythm of the film, and sets precisely what the mode should be for this piece of documentary, ambitiously saying that life is not logical.
Life is never predictable. Unexpected incidents happen all the time. Speaking of which, due to this “total accident” bumping into this film, I submersed myself into one of the best, breathe-taking, eye-opening, and undoubtedly enjoyable moments of my life – watching the film, We Are X.
Just like a song has an intro and outro, the movie also starts and ends with gorgeous images along with beautiful music of X Japan and Yoshiki’s. The film brilliantly presents the heart of the history of X Japan with the (relatively new, 2011) song “Jade” at the beginning of the film. The intro is so attractive that blocks everything else away from my mind, and drives me deeply into the abyss of the film.
Usually, documentary films discuss or disclose about a story. Yet, We Are X engages a story rather than displaying it to its audience. On one hand, someone like me, who knew nothing about the band, have been educated by the film about the rich history of X Japan; at the same time, I overwhelmingly felt and experienced the successfulness and the painfulness that they had gone through throughout the years with them via the film. After a stream of dramatic yet realistic facts being presented in front of the audience, the film ends with the concert of the reunited X Japan, along with the their stunning new theme song of the film “La Venus”.
By opening with the still images of the original members of X Japan with “Jade” as the background music, and ending with the motion video of the reunited X Japan with “La Venus” plus many other mind-blowing songs of X Japan revealing the bittersweet story of the members in between. “We Are X” is not only an entertaining and documenting film, but also a brilliantly made memorable masterpiece.
No matter how many times I watch the movie, it never seems enough. The film “We are X” is not only about “death and life of X Japan”, as quoted in the flyers, it is also about everything in between: love, friendship, family, fame, depression, self-saving, self-destroying, pioneering, rebellious, innovation, boldness, pride, jealousy, selfishness, success, failure, happiness, tragedy, leadership, conflicts, lost, gain, hope, hopelessness, hatred, give-up, pain, decency, culture, society, norm, ignorance, art, music, broke-up, reunited, memory, dreams, and human being.
Life, as sophisticated as X Japan’s, can be elegant, tasteful, painful, and altogether, beautiful. In addition to its unpredictable and surprising nature, when you look back, you can still feel the abundance of it. Although painful memories must be part of it, life can still bring you light and strength as long as you can find a way to “co-exist with the pains” (quoted from Yoshiki).
Watching “We Are X” is incomparable with watching any other film I have ever seen. Surrounded by extreme darkness, sitting in front of a huge screen, enjoying a splendid film, listening to the impressive music, glancing over the stunning images, and going through the overwhelming, dramatic, and outraging history of X Japan and Yoshiki, I feel like I am not merely watching a film, but also going through life and death and everything in between together with them, in tears and through my heart, all within 93 minutes of time.
Eventually, as of the issue date of this article, I have watched it in the cinema for six times. If it keeps being shown in the cinema, I will keep watching it again and again. Every time I watch it, it seems like layers of life of X Japan being peeled off, and different levels of fruitful yet unpredictable thunders being poured out for the audience to taste; for the eyes, for the ears, for the mind, and for the heart to grasp and absorb. I can keep watching it, and keep discovering how the director “Introducing X Japan…Japan…Japan…!”
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