Doppleganger may not be fright-tastic but it's great!
Jackie White | New York, NY USA | 04/18/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Doppleganger is a smart film and I think that people are selling it short by looking at the negatives like "lack of CG FX". Money doesn't make the best films. If you're looking for only horror films, this may not be for you, but to slander Doppleganger for bad marketing, too, is not the film's fault. Not every Asia Extreme film is going to be a horror-masterpiece. There has to be room for flexibility within the genres and this movie is one of those. It's a thriller, without the blood. You can't blame the film for that. And judging a movie by the box is just plain dumb. With that aside, yes, I did pop in the DVD assuming it would be horror, but the film impressed me nonetheless. It's actually more of a sci-fi psychological thriller. It reminded me of the cult classic 80's films like 'The Reanimator' except without the same "gore/slasher" aspects. To begin with the acting is amazing, but that's not even the best part. The director is really on top of his game.
What's amazing about these Asian directors like Kurosawa is that they're more versed in american cinema than the idiots directing for the big american studios these days. If you look at the way the story unfolds, and the movement of the camera, and music choice, not to mention the awesome split screen (which I thought was really advantageous to this movie) you can tell that Kurosawa has to have seen some classic DePalma movies like "Blowout" and "Body Double" (Blowout, 1980 -- Tarantino loved it...and was the reason he used Travolta in Pulp Fiction). It's also feels like there's a shadow of Cronenberg as well, and those robots look like "Johnny 5" from Short Circuit.
What you have to understand is that this film is looking at the idea of the doppleganger as a metaphor. A lot of people have trouble understanding the fact that these types of movies are psychological and often contain the unexplainable. Like in fight club with Brad Pitt's character, the doppleganger is not really real. He exercises control over Hayasaki because Hayasaki lacks the will to believe in himself and his science.
The movie really dissects the idea of what it means that we have a 'will' in the first place. That's what's going on in the 2nd scene where they're trying to adjust the controls. The intern kid is a weak person, without a strong will and he cannot control the robot device. The movie is ultimately about control. And Hayasaki's lack of control is what creates the doppleganger in the first place. The ending isn't really that ambiguous, either. I don't know why anyone would think it's ambiguous. I won't spoil it, though.
Anyway, here's the point. If you like psychological thrillers, you're a fan of cult psychological thrillers and science films, and you want to see a movie that is totally engaging, has some cool robot scenes and a solid plot, Doppleganger is a great film."
Very well done
Issei Takechi | Saitama, Japan | 05/22/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You would probably end up feeling short-changed if you tried to see this film as a horror or as a comedy because the film is not really either. What Kurosawa's trying to portray here is the frailty and egocentricity of human mind. Kurosawa has always been interested in digging into our innermost ego, and this film is no exception. Hayasaki's double is actually his alter ego, another side of his persona that he himself refuses to accept but deep down wishes to embrace. This is somewhat reflective of Japan's contemporary social psyche - the one that is torn between aspiration and reality. For one I can totally identify with this somewhat demented character, and I believe many others can, too. There are some minor quibbles - take, for example, the scene where this chap gets chased by a rolling mirror ball, which is rather farcical - but Yakusho is in his element while all the other supporting roles are beautifully played. It should also be noted that the robot in this film is used rather metaphorically, representing one's control over self."
Technically well done and unpredictable, but.....
NecroComicon | The Inn at Innsmouth | 02/24/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Kiyoshi Kurosawa has made a commendable little quasi horror, action picture. He has taken the Doppleganger idea and fleshed it out in a realistic fashion. Instead of being Lynchian with the subject matter it veers towards the linear and clear cut, more Hitchcock light than anything Kurosawa takes a somewhat straight narrative then delves almost not at all into the metaphysical aspect of the DOPPLEGANGER setup. The acting by the lead as 2 halves of the same whole is well done and the interesting use of split screen thru much of the film is also very well done. In the end though this is a somewhat unsatisfying film, especially by the standards of todays Asian "shock" cinema. Not for horror fans really this is a much more mainstream picture than it appears on the surface."
A near masterpiece!
Shaun | Minneapolis, MN USA | 05/12/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Doppleganger Production Committee asks: "What would you do if you ran into your perfect double, your "doppelganger"-someone who looks exactly like you?" Well?
Doppelganger opens like so many classic thrillers; with violins a-screeching and horns a-screaming. This self-described "most frightening film yet" plays like a intellectual thriller, not the hellish nightmare spelled out by the movie's main tagline.
The movie jumps back and forth between to story-lines, happening concurrently. Firstly, we see Yuka (Hiromi Nagasaku ) leaving a home improvements store. She sees her brother, Takashi, wondering in the store parking lot. Yuka offers him a ride back to their house with her, but Takashi sullen and hunched over, continues to walk away with only a short glance back. When Yuka gets home, a phone call informs her that Takashi is at the area hospital, deceased. This news shocks and surprises Yuka, because Takashi is writing on his computer, in his room.
Cut to Hayasaki (K?ji Yakusho; Cure). He's a company idea-man who, with his two assistants Takano and Aoki, is working to perfect his newest project; an "artificial body" that has promise to help the paralyzed. After a successful test of the chair in front of the company's board, Hayasaki is pressured by the department head to either finalize the project or take a management position and let someone else finish his work. He refuses. The company is putting heavy pressure on him and his small staff. Frustrated, Hayasaki heads home to find...Hayasaki sitting in his chair! The film continues to give us alternating tastes of Hayasaki's and Yuka's stories until they soon find themselves sitting across from each other at a diner. They both have similar problems.
Now don't be alarmed, I haven't said anything that spoils the film, on the contrary, the film is so crazy and (seemingly) jumbled, especially the final third, that there's plenty left to enjoy. There's never any doubt from the very beginning that the doppelganger is real. Kurasawa tells us as much by naming the movie as he does. What should be taken into account though, is that Doppelganger isn't quite horror. It may be a touch psychological, with a pinch of suspense; but if it's one thing, it's heavy on the humor. And satire. Kurasawa deftly employs the split-screen to give us simultaneous views of not only Koji Yakusho's fantastic dual portrayal, as he and himself jockey around his apartment, but also for some cat & mouse action later on in the film.
Doppelganger is fantastic. That's where some seem to part ways with me. Kurosawa isn't known to just slap together a film or not to have a purpose for what he's shooting. After a couple of viewings, I finally saw the brilliance of this movie. It lies not only with the superficial notion of one having a doppelganger, and how a person's duality comes into being under certain circumstances and what might spark such the event, albeit a questionable one. There's some dialogue in the film to support this. I don't know if others are overlooking it. What's even more fascinating, is that the movie itself acts as a character. The first half is tense, ambitious, and wrought with friction. It's dark. And we see that in the characters themselves. The latter half is quite different. One might say, "the opposite" of the first. Irreverent, lively and snappy. It's filed with light and life; and dare I say meaning? It supports the first have quite nicely. Which makes for a hell of a film.
The film is a much deeper film than most give it credit for and is wildly original, much in the way a certain Katsuhito Ishii film is. I laughed out loud at the crazy times. And I gasped at every swing of an object bound for someone's cranium. A bold piece of work. Kiyoshi Kurosawa, with the help of the ever-present Koji Yakusho, has done it again.