K2 - That Time Hiroshi Fujioka Was In a Mountain Climbing Movie

Since we're still stuck at home...how 'bout we watch a movie? I have a collection of bad movies that I like to paw through, and I came across this one and felt the desire to watch it again.

Today I'm going to talk about a movie that I bought a long, long time ago for one very good reason...

Yes! Instead of partaking in the 20th anniversary of Kamen Rider, Hiroshi Fujioka was globetrotting as mountain climber Takane Shimuzu (which I feel should be Shimizu, but whatever...it's their movie) in the 100% forgotten 1991 film K2. That's it. K2. Named after, well, the K2.

Before I get into this post I should probably air a few disclaimers. The first disclaimer is that I am going to go hard on the spoilers, of course. Considering this is a fairly dramatic movie, you may want to just rent it if you have any inclination (heh) to watch a survival movie about mountain climbing. Also, Hiroshi Fujioka is featured quite a bit, but he is far from being top-billed. So...you'd better be a fan of Kyle Reese from Terminator since he's our lead.


Taylor and his best friend Harold are two climbing hobbyists who stumble upon a team of climbers who are training for a secretive big climb lead by billionaire Phillip Claiborne. Among the team are a set of twin brothers, Jackie, Dallas, and Takane. The following morning they are awoken by an avalanche that took the lives of the twin brother while Taylor and Harold are able to save the others. Seizing the opportunity, Taylor and Harold are able to join Claiborne's expedition, which happens to be to the perilous K2 in Pakistan.

Cliche "Convince the Wife" Scene

Once the climb is underway, problems begin to mount. The hired porters begin to strike, and a freak mishap causes Harold to use to quick-thinking to save head porter Malik's life. Most of the porters abandon the climb and Claiborne begins to suffer from pulmonary edema. Jackie and Malik stay with Phillip with just Taylor, Harold, Dallas, and Takane left to attempt the climb. As Dallas is leading the climb, he nominates himself and Takane to complete the climb with Harold and Taylor remaining at the final camp. During an overnight storm, Taylor and Harold are awoken by a very badly injured Takane who informs them that their tent had been wiped out before succumbing to his injuries. Taylor and Harold inform Jackie at the other camp and say that they'll look for Dallas in the morning.

Claiborne's worsening condition means that he has chartered a helicopter to pick him up within forty eight hours giving Taylor and Harold very little time to attempt the rest of the climb themselves. They manage to reach the summit and take celebratory photos while leaving an American flag and Japanese flag to honor the fallen Takane.

During the descent Harold slips and suffers a horrific injury while simultaneously losing the only rope the duo has. After a long argument, Harold convinces Taylor to continue on the descent without him. After suffering a fall himself Taylor finds the frozen corpse of Dallas and is able to take his rope and adrenaline shots. He returns to a nearly dead Harold and manages to bring him back with a shot. The two then continue their descent as Claiborne, Jackie, and Malik are all collected by their helicopter. Malik tells the pilot that they must at least try to look for the now-stranded duo since Harold had saved his life earlier. Miraculously Harold and Taylor are found and the film closes with Taylor holding up a pick axe to signal their location.


It's always refreshing to watch a movie where there's no real or metaphorical villain. This is just a drama based on a play of the same name. I don't even have a particular interest in mountain climbing, but I've enjoyed this movie the handful of times I've seen it. It's plot is razor thin, yet it really doesn't feel like anything is missing. It's just an hour and forty five minutes of enjoyable cinema that really isn't dated in any particular way.

On your feet, soldier.

Where this movie really, really, truly falls flat is in the cinematography and quality of releases. The thing that stops me for recommending this movie is the complete lack of wide shots and scenery. You'd think that a movie set in this type of environment would emphasize the landscape a bit more to accomplish what the play this was based on couldn't...yet it doesn't. Everything is done in a tight shot. To make matters worse, I upgraded my VHS copy to DVD for this review and was greeted by the exact same transfer. This is the official Lion's Gate release...and it's a Full Frame VHS transfer. I did some research to see if there is a better version and...nope. The DVD for sale on Amazon at the moment seems to be some weird version with hardcoded Korean subtitles based on some of the complaints.

The bottom line is that...yeah, maybe rent it on Amazon. It's an alright movie if you just like a decent drama. Maybe it goes a little too cartoony by Taylor's superhuman strength toward the end, but then you remember that he spent an entire movie being chased by robot Arnold Schwarzenegger and I guess it makes a little more sense.


...but that's not why you're reading this review, are you? You want to know about Hiroshi Fujioka's part in this. Alright, I'll give you the goods.

I kinda laughed when Fujioka's character was first introduced in the movie. When Taylor and Harold first happen upon the team doing their training Dallas, whom Taylor is already acquainted, is giving some minor accomplishments/tidbits on each character. When he gets to Fujioka it basically goes like this...

Dallas: ...and he's Takane Shimuzu.
Takane: Hi.

Even in leaner times, Fujioka has always been a mountain of a man. Does he need to have any provenance? If you want to defeat a mountain...be a mountain.

From his introduction he is largely seen chilling in the background. Most characters that aren't Taylor or Harold are basically there for background considering this is based on a play. Fujioka does dramatic poses like nobody else in this film check this out...

Dramatic Funeral Pose
Intimidating the Porters Pose
Break time Pose
Concerned for the Boss Pose
Ummm...maybe this one isn't so badass...

You get my point. This movie is basically Michael Biehn on his own, but it's nice to have another familiar face (to us Tokusatsu dorks) along for the ride.

As for the reason why the character of Takane is part of this story...I have no idea. This play/movie is loosely based on the real-life climb of Jim Wickwire and Louis Reichardt, but there is no mention of any other climbers that may have been part of their team prior to their reaching the summit. Maybe the director just really, really liked Kamen Rider?

I get why Hiroshi Fujioka was cast. This was a physically demanding role. I just don't understand why Takane was there. Haha.

Regardless, it was very sad to see his character die off even if he did it in somewhat of a heroic way. He was able to reach Taylor and Harold's tent to try to save himself and inform them of the situation rather than dying like Dallas did in his weird zen pose. If it hadn't been for Takane, they'd have been none the wiser and woke up the next morning without knowing anything had been wrong...and leading them to never make their attempt to the summit.

Should you watch this movie just to check out Fujioka? I'll say...yeah, why not? If you're disappointed, I don't want to hear it. But yeah, it was fun to have him along for his handful of random moments. Like him gleefully sharpening an axe while Dallas slept...


...but wait! There's more. This isn't the first time Hiroshi Fujioka hit the international film scene. He is the first Japanese actor to belong to the Screen Actor's Guild after all.

Join me next time for a more substantial entry into Fujioka's international acting career. One where he does way more than hang out in the background and isn't expected to deliver one or two-word answers in English at random.

Stay tuned...



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  1. When you teased a movie that still looked VHS-like on DVD, I was thinking you were talking about Zeiram. (Well, the Media Blasters release I have looks no better than a VHS.)

    But I remember watching this movie on the USA Network in the early '00s. I stopped watching after Fujioka's character bit it. You're absolutely right in that it's not as cinematic as the material requires. It's basically a B-movie, but I don't think IT thinks it is.

    1. Hahaha YES. This is such a USA Network movie. That doesn't surprise me at all.

      It's a shame his character ended up dying and not another asshole like Dallas or those shitty twin brothers from the beginning.