review in one breath
Ju-Kai (2000) is probably the best documentary-style horror tale I have seen thus far. By "documentary style" is meant, of course, the now well-known genre seemingly spawned by the low-budget, highly popular Blair Witch Project. A necessary discussion which I have never heard take place, however, is whether or not the producers of Blair Witch actually borrowed their "wildly original" format from prior Japanese horror videos.
By the year Blair Witch Project was produced, Broadway Productions had already produced 11 versions of their popular documentary-style Honto ni Atta! Noroi Bideo in addition to several "special editions" (5 in all). The Ju-Kai special which is under review here is a member of the Honto ni Atta! Noroi Bideo special collection, produced a few months following the release of Blair Witch.
The title Ju-Kai literally implies a Sea of Curses in the sense of a "sea of problems" (rather than, eg, implying a "cursed ocean"). The storyline follows an investigative team as they try to solve the mystery behind a purported "cursed video" which has caused its own significant mayhem. Their inquiry quickly takes them, however, beyond the video itself and toward the haunted content and locations which the video inadvertently captured. As the crew ultimately finds itself at the gruesome location of the haunted spot, all hell literally breaks loose.
An investigative team catches wind of a video which is somehow related to a number of suicides. Their inquiry leads them first to those who have seen the video and experienced the sudden nightmarish, suicidal thoughts that followed, and then to the video producer himself who regrets making the film due to the demise of his filming crew thereafter. Our investigative team enthusiastically attempts to find the original location, believed to be the spot at which a corpse was discovered, in order to dissect the cursed video phenomenon. To aid them in their analysis, they hire a spiritually-gifted medium, Shigami.
They soon find themselves on an increasingly horrifying spiral leading them closer and closer to the malevolent presence somehow captured on the video tape. Unlike most of the other documentary-style horror (such as Blair Witch), the formidable ghoulies actually appear in Ju-Kai. And this appearance only portents major, brain-crushing havoc for all involved.
Ju-Kai is a rather excellent ghost story which possesses not only a coherent and compelling storyline, but also a fully satisfying conclusion. In fact, I believe this easily trumps in many important ways the (western) over-hyped Blair Witch project.
Whether you believe my optimistic review or not may not ultimately matter much as Ju-Kai is exceedingly difficult to locate both in terms of reviews and simple information. (Try it for yourself!) I'm here to suggest, however, that this was fun and spooky.
Version: Unsubtitled VHS
|Despite some creative storytelling, not much to be gleaned culturally.||Plenty of bloody hands and dripping, goopy masses of presumably dissolving entrails plopping upon the foreheads of innocent bystanders.||Coulda, woulda, shoulda... but didn't.||An effectively creepy tale outlining the investigative demise of a naive band of videographers delving into formidably evil phenomena.|