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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Wolverine

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Hugh Jackman stars in a scene from the movie "The Wolverine."
Does the idea of a giant suit of samurai armor made out of an indestructible -- but, alas, fictional -- alloy called adamantium strike you as the coolest thing ever? If so, then the macho superhero adventure "The Wolverine" (Fox) might just be the movie for you.

Viewers addicted neither to outsized gadgetry nor to the Marvel Comics X-Men mythos of which this is an extension, however, may find director James Mangold's action picture a heavy lift. That's largely due to the physical and emotional angst endured by the titular character (Hugh Jackman) who also goes by the more casual handle Logan.

Ostensibly, Logan would seem to have a lot going for him. Not only can he sprout tougher-than-steel (i.e., also adamantium) claws from his hands at a moment's notice, but his body has miraculous powers of self-healing too.

Ay, but there's the rub: Logan's invulnerability has resulted in virtual immortality. And, after more than a century of hanging around, he's as bored, blase and downright world-weary as any 1950s French philosopher. Then there's the fact that, along the way, he accidentally killed his true love. Darn!

Perhaps a trip to exotic Japan might alleviate the blues? To justify the jaunt, we open on flashbacks of World War II that find Logan a POW sweating it out in a heavily reinforced hot box that happens to be located across the bay from the doomed city of Nagasaki. As the mushroom cloud looms, Logan saves the life of one of his captors, an officer named Yashida (Ken Yamamura).

Flash forward to the present, and the aged but eternally grateful Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi), now a fabulously wealthy industrialist (what else?), is facing death. He summons his old friend for a final visit.

Naturally, Yashida has a fetching granddaughter, Mariko (Tao Okamoto), whose position as his heir makes her a target for bad guys. How many tattooed Yakuza types can Logan's built-in Ginsu knives slice and dice? Um, quite a lot.

Fortunately, the relentless combat involves only moderate gore, and occasional flashes of wit offer some relief from the fog of testosterone.

Less welcome is the fact that Logan and Mariko not only fall for each other, but fall into bed together as well. They do so despite the obvious detail that Logan's mark-of-Cain lifestyle does not exactly lend itself to long-term commitments.

Additionally, a scene where the otherwise conventionally heroic Logan almost murders one of the principal villains (played by Brian Tee) in cold blood -- Logan averts the guilt of killing him only by accident -- will not sit well with morally mature audience members.

The film contains constant action violence with some blood, ritual suicides, a nonmarital bedroom scene, rear nudity, mature references, at least one use of the F-word and occasional crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog To replace our sins with virtues may seem like a daunting task, but fortunately we can follow the example of the saints who have 
successfully defeated these sins in their lifetimes. They provide us with a way forward so that we, too, can live holy, virtuous lives.

 
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