Jul 25, 2013

    Jackman exposes Wolverine's softer side

    HUGH Jackman battles ninja warriors, trounces a monster samurai and rescues a Japanese heiress, but still manages to show a softer, vulnerable side of the comic-book superhero in The Wolverine, the newest film in the X-Men series.

    The movie, which opens here today, marks the sixth time the 44-year-old Australian actor is portraying the silver-clawed, self-healing, century-old mutant.

    "I am enjoying playing him more than ever. We are focusing on this character and on his journey," said Jackman.

    The film is the second in the highly profitable X-Men series that focuses solely on Wolverine. It follows 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which had mixed reviews, but pulled in more than US$374 million (S$473 million) worldwide.

    In the latest film, Jackman's down-and-out character, who goes by the human name of Logan, is lured to Japan by a martial-arts expert (played by newcomer Rila Fukushima) to bid goodbye to a dying, powerful Japanese industrialist he had saved decades earlier.

    Wolverine battles Yakuza criminals, ninja warriors and villainous mutant Viper, and saves Mariko (played by Tao Okamoto), the mysterious heiress and his love interest.

    Jackman believes Japan was the perfect setting to expose Wolverine's vulnerabilities and to push the character physically and emotionally.

    "He's a natural outsider and I think the customs, the atmosphere, the history, samurai codes of honour and obeying, and all that stuff are the opposite of Wolverine," he said.

    "There is unresolved anger in all these (X-Men) characters. They somehow use that dysfunction, that pain, that indecision... All the things that are within (them) become their strength, and become their defining quality.

    "With Wolverine, as you see in this film, it's as much a burden as it is a superpower."