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Vengeance Is Mine(1979)
Iwao Enokizu is a middle-aged man who has an unexplainable urge to commit insane and violent murders. Eventually he is chased by the police all over Japan, but somehow he always manages to escape. He meets a woman who runs a brothel. They love each other but how long can they be together?
For more about Vengeance Is Mine and the Vengeance Is Mine Blu-ray release, see the Vengeance Is Mine Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on September 15, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Shôhei Imamura
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Vengeance Is Mine Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, September 15, 2010
Shohei Imamura's "Vengeance is Mine" (1979) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Eureka Entertainment. The supplemental features on the disc include an introduction by filmmaker Alex Cox; audio commentary by critic and filmmaker Tony Rayns; and original Japanese teaser and trailer for the film. The disc also arrives with a 56-page illustrated booklet. In Japanese, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
Based on Ryuzo Saki's bestselling novel, Shohei Imamura's Vengeance is Mine tells the story of Iwao Enokizu (Ken Ogata, The Demon), a serial killer who terrorized Japan between 1963 and 1964. After an unprecedented 78-day nationwide manhunt, which was widely covered by the local media, the police finally captured Enokizu and he was quickly sentenced to death.
The film begins with the end, only a few days before Enokizu is punished for his crimes. He is arrested and transported to a prison where the authorities begin questioning him. Enokizu does not cooperate, but a complete account of his crimes is eventually created with the assistance of his mistress.
The film follows closely Enokizu's troubled path, but the descriptions of his crimes are not organized in chronological order. We learn about his childhood years, and specifically about a traumatic experience he had with a military official who confiscated his father's (Rentaro Mikuni, A Promise) boats; his unsuccessful marriage to a beautiful woman named Kazuko (Mitsuko Baisho, Ballad of Narayama); and his relationship with a depressed innkeeper (Mayumi Ogawa, Farewell to the Ark) and her peculiar mother (Nijiko Kiyokawa, Free & Easy Special Version). We also learn about the strange relationship between Enokizu's father and Kazuko.
Vengeance is Mine is a raw, at times uncomfortable to watch film about moral degradation. For some serial killers the act of killing is an intimate ritual of sorts, a way of achieving pleasure which alcohol, sex, or drugs cannot deliver. For the serial killer in Vengeance is Mine the act of killing equates an extreme form of anger suppression.
The film does not make it clear, however, what the anger (or the vengeance implied in its title) is for. Enokizu's inexorable desire to hurt those he becomes close with is puzzling to say the least. He is a smart but not strikingly intelligent man whose past clearly does not offer any clues as to why he has become a monster.
The people Enokizu has a relationship with are also strange, though it is a lot easier to understand why. For example, the abused Kazuko finds Enokizu's father attractive and begs him to make love to her because she feels safe around him. On the other hand, even after the innkeeper learns that Enokizu is a killer, she decides to stay with him because his presence makes it a lot easier for her to deal with her eccentric mother.
Director Imamura knew many people who lived lives similar to the ones the various characters in his film have. Once a happy black marketer who bought illicit liquor and cigarettes from American soldiers and then sold them for profit, Imamura spent a great deal of time amongst homeless loners, prostitutes, thieves, and crooks who taught him a lot more about life in post-war Japan than his university professors did. Naturally, Imamura felt attracted to them and their world. Vengeance is Mine is a product of his fascination with the dark side of Japanese society.
In 1980, the Japanese Academy recognized Vengeance is Mine with six awards, including awards for Best Film, Best Director, and Best Actor (Ken Ogata). During the same year, the film also won Best Screenplay (Masaru Baba) and Best Sound Recording (Shôtarô Yoshida) at the Mainichi Film Concours.
Vengeance Is Mine Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Shohei Imamura's Vengeance is Mine arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Eureka Entertainment.
This is a fine high-definition transfer. It has been struck from a slightly dated source, but it looks raw, unmanipulated, and fresh. Fine object detail is good, particularly during the daylight scenes; clarity occasionally fluctuates but it is still pleasing; contrast levels are strong, even impressive when compared to the contrast levels of the Criterion SDVD R1 release of Vengeance is Mine. The film's color-scheme has been criticized, but I did not find the blacks to be as problematic; in my opinion, the lack of contrast boosting and color-enhancing previous SDVD release of Vengeance is Mine convey is preferable. Eureka Entertainment's policy is to present their films unmanipulated, and I certainly did not detect any traces of post-production image adjustments here; the fine film grain is very much intact. Edge-enhancement is not a serious issue of concern. Neither is macroblocking. I also did not see any serious stability issues to report in this review. Lastly, while viewing Vengeance of Mine I noticed a good number of tiny flecks popping up here and there. However, I did not see any large cuts, stains, or marks. To sum it all up, currently this is the best presentation of director Imamura's Vengeance is Mine available worldwide. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Vengeance Is Mine Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. For the record, Eureka Entertainment have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
The Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track is surprisingly strong. The bass is unexpectedly potent and the high-frequencies not overdone. The dialog is crisp, clean, stable, and very easy to follow. Shinichiro Ikebe also music score conveys strong dynamics. Lastly, while viewing Vengeance is Mine I did not detect any annoying pops, cracks, or strong background hissings to report in this review. There were no problematic audio dropouts either.
Vengeance Is Mine Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Introduction by Alex Cox - filmmaker Alex Cox offers a short introduction to Vengeance is Mine in which he focuses on the main character and the message of the film. The introduction was filmed exclusively for the Masters of Cinema Series in Liverpool in 2005. In English, not subtitled. (7 min).
Commentary - a wonderful audio commentary by critic and filmmaker Tony Rayns. Predictably, this is a very informative audio commentary, containing a wealth of information about the production history of Vengeance is Mine, its unusual story, as well as director Shohei Imamura's career.
Teaser - the original Japanese teaser for the film. In Japanese, with optional English subtitles. (4 min).
Trailer - the original Japanese trailer for the film. In Japanese, with optional English subtitles. (3 min).
Booklet - 56-page illustrated booklet containing an interview with director Shohei Imamura conducted by Toichi Nakata in 1994, promotional materials, and a director's statement.
Vengeance Is Mine Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The folks at Eureka Entertainment have put together yet another strong package that should delight fans of Japanese cinema. After their spectacular release of Shohei Imamura's Profound Desires of the Gods, now we get the director's violent and disturbing Vengeance is Mine. This isn't an easy to deconstruct film - but that is why it is so unique. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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