“Knock for Knock” might be the most mind-bendingly powerful short film I’ve seen this year. It’s a collaboration between long-distance cyclist James Bowthorpe, who wrote it, and artist Antony Crook, with support from Rapha. The narrative follows Nao Tsuchiyama, a Japanese boxer, as he…well, there will be no spoilers here. I really don’t want to tell you anything about it so as not to spoil its impact. Just get yourself in a place where you can spend six minutes without distraction and allow yourself to be swept away. Knock for Knock is dark and strange, but it gave me chills that stayed with me long after the music had ended.
I will give you one bit of backstory. In Japanese folklore, there are creatures called kappa who live in rivers and ponds and can be the source of much mischief or even more serious trouble, including pulling people into the water to drown them, or eating or raping them. Kappa can take different forms, but one common trait is an indentation in the top of their head where they keep water, which is the source of their power when they are out of their river or pond. If they lose the water from this indentation, they are supposed to become paralyzed and can no longer move.
“Knock For Knock looks inwards, into memory, into fear and fighting it,” said Bowthorpe. Amen, brother — in a big way.