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EMPEROR

              

For Hicksflicks.com, Aug. 2, 2013

When "Emperor" was in theaters my wife and I went primarily for Tommy Lee Jones as Gen. Douglas MacArthur, which may explain why we were somewhat disappointed to find that the focus is actually on Gen. Fellers (Matthew Fox), an expert on Japanese affairs assigned by MacArthur to investigate whether Emperor Hirohito should be tried for war crimes, and possibly executed.

The setting is 1945 Japan, following the end of World War II and after Hirohito's surrender. And because the emperor is revered by his people as a god, United States post-war diplomacy is in a tenuous position with a lot riding on MacArthur's ultimate decision.

While Fellers conducts his investigation the film also spends a lot of time flashing back to his ill-fated romance with a Japanese woman prior to the war. The result is a very uneven experience, especially since Jones is such a powerhouse presence. He dominates the proceedings whenever he's onscreen and is sorely missed when he's absent, which is far too often.

Still, the film is interesting for its exploration of a particular page in history that is often overlooked, and it's told in a straightforward narrative that may seem a little old-fashioned to younger movie-watchers but will no doubt appeal to those who are older and more familiar with these events.

The PG-13 melodrama is now on Blu-ray and DVD on the Lionsgate label and includes deleted scenes, an audio commentary, photo galleries and trailers.