M. McGee | Alexandria, VA United States | 06/01/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The only reason I'm not rating this lower than three stars is because it's incomplete -- it's the first volume of I-don't-know-how-many it will take to collect what is apparently an entire Japanese TV series. Of course, you don't really know (or anyway, I didn't know) going in that it IS incomplete, so frustration mounts as the disc gets closer and closer to the end of its run time without showing any signs of making sense anytime soon. Which, not to spoil anything, it doesn't even start to by the time you're finished.
The plot seems to be as follows: In a vaguely fascistic alternate history version of contemporary Japan (that this is alternate history is only hinted at, but it feels like something that'll be important later on in the series), a homicide detective develops a split personality when a serial murderer kills his wife. The cop's alternate personality kills the serial killer, and the cop reverts back to his former self, albeit without memory of several years of his life (including his marriage). His superiors keep covert tabs on him to make sure he's all right, but are content to let him lead a mundane but happy life as a retired police officer until another killer pops up with the same MO. When the detective's current wife goes missing, he returns to his alternate personality and sets out to track down and kill the serial killer -- again.
All of which sounds promising (if a little cliche), but a whole lot of weird science fiction is thrown into the mix -- people with barcodes stamped on their eyes, souls that reach out through cell phones and the internet to take possession of those unlucky enough to be on the other side of the connection, etc. -- and none of it really seems to add up to anything by the time you've lost two hours of your life watching this. Again, had I realized going in that this was FAR from complete I might not have developed a migraine trying to figure out what in the hell is going on in this program...but I also probably would have waited until the whole series had been released to watch it. As you probably should, too.
Fans of director Takashi Miike will be stunned to see something of his that sports the kind of slick production values on display here. But Miike seems to be reining himself in a little, too -- or, quite possibly, the TV production company he was working for did the reining in for him. It's certainly way more out there than anything you'd ever see on American TV, maybe including HBO productions, but it's neither as gleefully irreverent as Ichi the Killer nor as flatout scary as Audition. Additionally -- appallingly -- shots of nudity and what look like some spectacular gore scenes are artfully FUZZED OUT, which I imagine is either a TV concession (sorry, kids!) or evidence that I rented a butchered version. I'm guessing it's the former, since the fuzziness (as opposed to the simple removal of scenes)implies Miike had a hand in it, but either way, it's obnoxious and distracting. Not to mention condescending -- I'll make up my own mind about what I choose to look at, thank you very much.
I'll definitely RENT -- not buy -- the second volume when it's released, just out of curiosity, but those curious about Miike would be much better advised to check out his theatrical films first. MPD Psycho is not without merit, but it's certainly not representative of his best work."
Miike at his weirdest
Simon Booth | UK | 05/29/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Bear in mind first that these are the first two episodes of a 6 part TV series, so don't expect anything like closure from this disc by itself. Unfortunately, Adness aren't planning to release the 2nd disc until the end of August! Given the complexity and strangeness of the series, I really think all 6 episodes need to be watched together, so I can't really recommend purchasing the disc by itself."