Japanese mystery flick partly shot here

Japanese idol Sho Sakurai may play an intelligent butler who takes good care of a rich heiress in his new movie The After-Dinner Mysteries, but he claims he is nothing like that in real life.

The charming 31-year-old singer-actor, speaking Japanese, told The New Paper through a translator: "I don't think I can solve all the difficult mysteries like my character in the show, as I am not as intelligent."

He laughed and added: "I am also not as motivated to go all out to protect a pretty rich girl in real life."

Sakurai, director Masato Hijikata, 56, and co-stars Keiko Kitagawara, 26, and Kippei Shiina, 49, were in town last Saturday to promote and grace the world premiere of their new film at Marina Bay Sands.

The movie opens here on Aug 22.

Starring the same cast, The After-Dinner Mysteries started as a television series in 2011.

It is based on the best-selling mystery novel of the same name and was made into a film this year.

It tells the story of rich heiress Reiko (Kitagawara) who works as a detective. Her butler Kageyama (Sakurai) has a penchant for solving difficult mystery cases and helps Reiko in her job.

Meanwhile, Reiko's boss Kyoichiro Kazamatsuri (Shiina) often comes up with ridiculous theories to solve crimes and takes credit for other people's ideas, which annoys Reiko.

Kitagawara said: "I am in a completely different world compared to my character. I am neither a wealthy heiress nor a police officer in real life."

The sweet-looking actress, who first debuted as a model in 2003, added: "But just as my character depends on my butler in the show, I depend a lot on Sakurai during filming to guide me along as well."

Hijikata came up with the idea of filming part of the movie in Singapore last year, as he wanted to set the scene in a high-class cruise ship. He found out that Singapore has many fleets of cruise ships that he could film on.

Challenges

He said: "There were some challenges filming on a cruise ship though, as there were other guests on board as well and they did not know of the filming.

"Some areas were also out of bounds to us. Other than that, it was quite a smooth filming process."

He added: "My most memorable experience was that the Merlion was closed for renovations when we were here, so we had to come back a few weeks later to film more shots with the Merlion in them."

For Sakurai, a member of popular Japanese boy band Arashi, Raffles Hotel, where they shot some scenes, left a deep impression on him.

"It's such a beautiful hotel, especially with the architecture and white walls set against the luscious greenery of Singapore. I am taken by how pretty the whole place is," he said.

As for veteran actor Shiina, being able to travel to many countries within a few days on a cruise was an experience he never had in Japan.

He said: "I managed to go to Malaysia and Thailand in such a short time on the cruise. It was unique."

Having worked together for about two years now, the cast have built a strong relationship on and off-set.

Sakurai said: "We have developed a deep bond and trust among ourselves."

Kitagawara added: "We were there for each other when filming was tough and also when it was fun. Sho and I have felt like rivals yet great partners at different times.

"There is good rapport among the cast."


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