"Think of this movie as a Ryuhei Kitamura version of a Final Fantasy movie with more morbid elements."
Director: Ryuhei Kitamura
Writers: Isao Kiriyama, Ryuhei Kitamura, Tsutomu Takahashi (manga), Yudai Yamaguchi
Producer: Taizo Fukumaki, Hidemi Satani
Cast: Hideo Sakaki, Ryo, Koyuki, Shun Sugata, Erika Oda, Tak Sakaguchi, Jun Kunimura
Running Time: 119 min.
Plot: See review below.
EQUINOX21'S REVIEW: Another Azumi or Versus this is not. Alive is based on a popular Japanese manga, and unlike Ryuhei Kitamura's previous movie (this was his next movie after Versus), it doesn't involve much action and not nearly as much excitement. It wasn't boring, but it wasn't thrilling, either.
A man, Yashiro, is set to be executed. When he sits down in the electric chair and given a jolt that barely even singes his hair and awakes to find himself alone in a room, he's told he has two choices; either to participate in an experiment or to have his execution fulfilled. Obviously, he participates in the experiment, which includes being given anything he wants, food, drink, etc., with the only exception being that he can't leave the room. He's accompanied by a cell mate that gets on his nerves, but throughout the course of the movie, together, they find out why they're kept in the cell and what it is the experiment is all about.
Alive is not a great movie and not nearly as "fun" as Kitamura's other films. The acting was fine and the setting was super cool, but the story and the cheesy special effects were somewhat dull. When there were exciting scenes, where something interesting actually happens, they seemed to end pretty quickly… that is until near the end when Yashiro takes on a group of swat team members, and then takes on another of his "kind" (to understand, you really have to see the movie) played by Tak Sakaguchi. It just seemed like it was an action movie with too big a lead up to the actual action. The talking parts of the movie were ok, but almost too hokey to really be truly enjoyable.
The best things about this movie were the settings and the feelings of isolation. You really get the feeling of what it would be like to be stuck in this room for a number of days with just one other person (who you really don't like). It was a decent sized room, but it was still isolated, bleak and stark. Fights between the two occupants were more than expected, they were inevitable. It was actually pretty interesting, similar to the bleak feeling of the movie Cube, until the goofy sci-fi bit of the movie came up.
Think of this movie as a Ryuhei Kitamura version of a Final Fantasy movie with more morbid elements. It was definitely not like his other films in that it wasn't strictly constant action. It was more of a sci-fi/comic-book film. See this one only if you have to see all of Kitamura's films.
EQUINOX21'S RATING: 7/10