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Recently in thriller Category

L: Change The World
[Death Note 3 ]

Genre: Non-Supernatural Crime Procedural

review in one breath

Picking up where the two Death Note films leave off, mastermind L has only 23 days to foil a global plot involving chemical weapons and thereby save the world! At his side throughout are Near, a 6 year-old mathematical genius and Mika, a genetically aberrational school girl. With evil-doers hot on their trail, the clock is ticking as L and his pre-pubescent sidekicks try to isolate the threat and create an antidote to the deadly weaponized virus. This is a spin-off sequel to the Death Note narrative and is directed by "Ringu" director Hideo Nakata.



Tokyo Psycho
[Tokyo densetsu: ugomeku machi no kyoki]

Genre: Fact-Based Psycho Thriller

review in one breath

First, Yumiko begins receiving very creepy love letters from a secret admirer. Then, her closest friends begin disappearing. All clues point toward Mikariya, a former classmate who allegedly killed his family but was deemed criminally insane. And now Mikariya is back, intent on making Yumiko his bride. From the director of Tomie, this film is based on true infamous crimes in Japan, and depicts an amazingly twisted Tokyo psycho!



Freeze Me

Genre: Revenge Thriller

review in one breath

Thinking she had put her past behind her, Chisato is suddenly confronted by the men responsible for her humiliating rape years before. Their sheer disrespect for her slowly destroys the home, job and relationships she had built up for herself. With literally nothing else to lose, she gradually takes things into her own hands, exacting the revenge her merciless abusers deserve.



Booth
[Busu]

Genre: Supernatural Psychological Meltdown

review in one breath

A well-known and somewhat haughty radio host is suddenly haunted by his past when his show temporarily moves to an outdated basement studio booth with a notorious history. Though his job entails giving cheerfully confident advice to others, on this particular evening he is forced to undergo some terrifying introspection. This is as much a psychological thriller as supernatural ghost tale and is the second film in the recent "New Generation Thrillers" series.



MPD: Psycho 3
[Multiple Personality Detective 3]

Genre: Psychotic Thriller

review in one breath

These are the final two episodes of director Miike Takashi's truly bizarre and engaging psychotic thriller. Here the mind-bending nature of the detective Amamiya's schizophrenia and its relation to the Lucy Monostone Seven is finally divulged. This is a satisfying and eery finale to the very unique MPD Psycho series.



MPD: Psycho 2
[Multiple Personality Detective 2]

Genre: Psychotic Thriller

review in one breath

The mind-boggling bizarre murders continue as Amamiya Kazuhiko inches closer toward the psychically elusive masochist Nishizono Shinji. In this second of three installments of director Miike Takashi's visually hypnotic sci-fi crime thriller, we gain further insight into the past of Amamiya and his early relationship with his now nemesis Nishizono. The pace, visuals and pure intrigue of this series remains as high as ever, as does its completely baffling storyline.



MPD: Psycho 1
[Multiple Personality Detective 1]

Genre: Psychotic Thriller

review in one breath

Truly STRANGE goings-on permeate Tokyo in this eerily beautiful yet mind-numbingly mysterious psychotic thriller. By the deservedly notorious director Miike Takashi, this tale will undoubtedly capture both your intellect and imagination from the very start.



Yurika-chan

Genre: Psycho-babble Action Thriller

review in one breath

For starters we have to talk about the director's name. The kanji making up the name Saishu Kyoshi was more than a little difficult to decipher. Even my (college prof) Japanese friend couldn't read it. After spending about an hour trying to crack the Kanji mystery which is Saishu Kyoshi, I was startled by the results.



A Snake of June
[Rokugatsu no Hebi]

Genre: Erotic Thriller

review in one breath

A Snake of June is a 2002 film directed by Tsukamoto Shinya. Tsukamoto has an impressive and creative career in both acting and directing. He has appeared in numerous films, many of which he also directed. Films in which he holds this dual role (of director and actor) include Tetsuo (1988), Tetsuo 2 (1992), Bullet Ballet (1998) and A Snake of June, the film under review here. Other films which Tsukamoto directed (but did not appear in) include Hiroku: Goblin Hunter (1990) and Gemini (1999).



Senrigan
[Clairvoyance]

Genre: Techno Thriller

review in one breath

Senrigan (which means "Clairvoyance") is a techno-thriller in which a mind-controlling doomsday cult threatens to blow up half of Japan in the hope of ushering in a new world order. I use the term "techno-thriller" quite loosely here, since you may find yourself searching hard for both the technos and the thrill...



Noroime
[Cursed Woman]

Genre: Psychic Sci-Fi Thriller

review in one breath

Things have not been easy for Michiko, who while not working in a standard OL job under a manager who bullies her, is home taking care of her twin brother Seiji who has been blind from birth. Michiko and Seiji have always been very close, particularly due to their mutual suffering at the hand of their psychotically abusive mother. Now, in their mid-20's, the twins continue to live together, occasionally visiting their docile, medicated mother in the psychiatric ward.



Kourei
[Seance]

Genre: Supernatural Psychological Suspense

review in one breath

Kourei ("Seance" in English) is directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, also responsible for the likes of Cure (1997), "Hebi no Michi" (Serpent's Path, 1997), Charisma (1999), and Kairo (2001) among others. Kurosawa is increasingly recognized as a premier director able to deliver significant impact. His films are characterized by his willingness and patience to allow audiences to arrive at an understanding without being spoon-fed or merely told. In other words, this Kurosawa enjoys watching your mind interact with his film, and his relish of this interaction causes him to refrain from spelling out every detail and nuance he wishes you to catch.



Kaosu
[Chaos]

Genre: Psychological Thriller

review in one breath

Kaosu (English title Chaos) is a mind-spinning psychological suspense directed by Nakata Hideo whose other works include the trend-setting Ringu (1998), Ringu 2 (1999), and Dark Water (2002). This film is indeed a suspense story rather than of the horror genre for which Nakata has recently become so well known in the West. The movie is based on a work written by Saito Hisashi and employs a shifting timeline which provides dramatic incremental clues into the unfolding complex plot. Nakata fans will enjoy Kaosu for its most endearing characteristic: pure psychological manipulation of the viewer without recourse to special effects or blood and gore. This, of course, is precisely what makes Nakata's horror films so effective and internationally appealing.



Cross Fire
[Pyrokinesis]

Genre: Fiery ESP Crime Thriller

review in one breath

Cross Fire (2000) is directed by Kaneko Shusuke whose other directorial work includes Gamera 1, 2 & 3 (1995, 1996, 1999), Gakkou no Kaidan 3 (1997) and Azumi 2: Death or Love (give me love, Azumi!). And if that list isn't diverse enough in terms of genre (ranging from large monsters to ghosts to sexy samurai), then add to that an ESP-fueled crime thriller under review here. Mixing ESP with crime drama is nothing new in Japanese film (see the bizarro Isola for evidence) but director Kaneko does bring to the scenario a satisfying degree of special effects and action. And by "special effects and action" I literally mean humans spontaneously bursting into immense balls of flame, screaming and flailing about in amazing duration until they are reduced to charred ash. Hell (no pun intended), this happens at least a dozen times in this film!



Charisma
[Karisuma]

Genre: Psychological Action

review in one breath

Heaven and Earth are not humane.
They regard all things as straw toys.
Therefore the wise man is not humane.
He regards all people as straw toys.

(~ Tao Te Ching)

Goro Yabuike (Koji Yakusho) is a Tokyo precinct detective who is called in for the difficult cases. His entire waking life consists of crazed lunatics and senselelss murders. Somehow he has found himself in the position where he is the soul who stands between the lunacy and civilized society, sometimes as translator, sometimes as the sole person who will decide a tragic situation's outcome. We are introduced to the sleep-deprived Yabuike as he is called to intervene in a hostage situation whose demands are simply "To restore the rules of the world". Reading this demand, he gives up any hope of resolution and as he leaves the presence of the gunman, the entire hostage situation goes to hell. His recurring preoccupation with this scene underscores his growing disdain for the chaotic social order in which he is steeped.



The Black House
[Kuroi Ie]

Genre: Sexy Psycho-babble Thriller

review in one breath

Although The Black House is generally categorized as belonging to the "horror" genre it is in fact a non-supernatural psychological thriller exploring the making and mind of a "psychopathic killer". The backdrop of the story involves the intricacies of Japan's insurance agencies and the various types of questionable claims for compensation they receive. There are, for example, the yakuza who conjure up various schemes to fraudulently benefit from insurance policies. There are also the category of people officially referred to as yubikarizoku, those who inflict injury upon themselves to collect insurance payments. And then there are those who go to the extreme of injuring others in order to collect on policies taken out on behalf of the victim.



Battle Royale II: Requiem
[Battle Royale 2]

Genre: Sappy Political Melodramatic Action

review in one breath

Fukasaku Kinji (1930-2003) directed over 60 films in his lifetime, including Black Lizard (Kurotokage , 1968 - working with and starring Mishima Yukio) , Mansion of the Black Rose (Kuro bara no yakata, 1969), Chushingura Gaiden: Yotsuya Kaidan (Crest of Betrayal, 1994), and the wildly popular Battle Royale (2000). Fukasaku Kinji died of prostrate cancer shortly after the filming of Battle Royale II: Requiem started, and thus most of the directorial responsibilities fell upon his son, Fukasaku Kenta, who also helped in the writing of Battle Royale. Thus the film clearly credits "Fukasaku Gumi" or "Fukasaku Group" with the directorial role, alluding to this exchange of responsibility.



Another Heaven
[Anaza Hebun]

Genre: Inexplicable Sci-Fi Horror Crime Thriller

review in one breath

Grab your showercaps boys and girls! Tokyo is being plagued by brain-eating WATER FROM HELL and no one is safe! Especially not the hunky, brooding Tokyo cop Manabu Hayase and all the many cute girls who dig him!



Hakuchi no torima

Violence at High Noon

Genre: Existential Drama (Extreme)

review in one breath

"Love is incapable of changing anyone."

Director Nagisa Oshima's movies often are portrayals of intense love relationships and the social alienation caused by them. His earlier Cruel Story of Youth (1960) and the later In the Realm of the Senses (1976) and In the Realm of the Passions (1978) are of this sort. All three of these tales involve the violent clash of innate passion with societal convention, usually ending in the "triumph" of social convention and a sad demise for the couple. Violence at High Noon is a variation of this same theme, though here the tension exists between human passion and sheer human evil. Our characters are pitted against themselves rather than against society, and the human soul is portrayed as the source of great harm rather than apathetic collective convention.



Death Note
[Desu Noto]

Genre: Supernaturally-Fueled Crime Thriller

review in one breath

This highly involved and plot-twisting anime series revolves around a supernatural "Death Notebook" which falls into the hands of an over-zealous young man intent on bringing about a new, more "just" world order. Those whose names are written in the Death Note promptly die in a highly untraceable manner, creating the ultimate weapon against Japan's rising crime rate and ineffective judicial system. But the new found tool comes at a price, as soon the deadly line is blurred between justifiable corporal punishment and sheer Utopian ideology. This is the anime version of the highly popular manga and subsequent live-action film versions.



Death Note 2: The Last Name
[Desu Noto 2: the Last Name]

Genre: Supernaturally-Fueled Crime Thriller

review in one breath

This is the second and concluding film of the two-part Death Note live action saga. Here Kira continues his strategic maneuvering under the watchful pursuits of his nemesis, the boy-genius "L". Whose name will be "the Last name" written in the Death Note?



Death Note
[Desu Noto]

Genre: Supernaturally-Fueled Crime Thriller

review in one breath

When a young man stumbles across and touches a mysterious notebook, his eyes are opened to the supernatural forces of Death Gods or "Shinigami" who work behind the scenes of human mortality. When an individual's name is merely written in this Death Note, that soul dies within mere seconds. Possessing such a flawless weapon immediately requires decisions regarding murder, the Law, an ideal society and above all, Justice. This is a face-paced and highly strategic crime thriller based on the popular manga series.




Nightmare Detective [Akumu Tantei]

Genre: Gloomy Psychic Crime Horror
Director: Tsukamoto Shinya (2006)

review in one breath

Tokyo police are baffled by a series of grisly deaths which at first glance appear to be obvious suicides but after further investigation have all the earmarks of homicide. Eyewitnesses to some of the cases report that the victims violently killed themselves in their sleep while screaming for help. When it is discovered that each of the victims had phoned a mysterious individual known only as "0", a detective calls the number only to soon thereafter die a gruesome self-inflicted death in his sleep. At their wits end, the cops ask the help of a bedraggled psychic said to possess the ability to enter people's dreams.




Sakebi [Retribution]

Genre: Supernatural Psychological Thriller
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa (2006)

review in one breath

Soon after investigating the murder of a young woman, a hardened detective finds that he is haunted by the woman's ghost and discovers several inexplicable clues seemingly linking him to the crime. As he struggles to understand his nightmarish predicament, both inner and outer worlds collide in this disturbing and mind-bending morality tale.



Oboreru Sakana
[Drowning Fish]

Genre: Ultra-Hip Crime Thriller

review in one breath

When corporate executives are blackmailed into public displays of nudity on the busy streets of Shinjuku, the big guns are called out to locate "Oboreru Sakana". The "big guns" are a misfit duo of ethically questionable characters who must infiltrate a gay nightclub and "fit in" while they search for clues. What ensues is both hilarious and action-packed.



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