JUNE 25, 2008
When I was putting together the “quote banner” for the site, I came across a guy who liked Horror Movie A Day, but that it lost points because I “dislike Asian horror”. This was written a year or so ago, when I had very few Asian films reviewed here, and yes, most of them negative. But I hope that guy is still reading, because I have given several high marks to Eastern fare since, and X-Cross (aka XX (Ekusu Kurosu): Makyô Densetsu) certainly continues that trend – it’s actually one of my favorite movies of the year.
The setup is what really makes the film. It’s like Saw III and IV combined, in that the first part of the film shows you one character’s journey through an event, and then the 2nd part shows the other girl’s adventures. And each part has its own horror sub-genre feel – the first is a suspenseful girl in the woods type thing, and the 2nd is a one on one battle between a girl and a romantic rival who has gone insane and taken to running around dressed up in a costume and wielding giant scissors. But then the 3rd part is where the movie truly takes off, as the girls reunited and face their enemies together, culminating in a huge bloodbath via a batshit insane 4 way fight.
And that’s what makes the film work so well. We start off with suspense (suspense that actually works for that matter), then go into some light survival/”torture” elements, and finally just the gonzo type of stuff that director Kenta Fukasaku is known for (he did Battle Royale 2, for example). It works much better than you might think, and the way the film keeps elevating is admirable to say the least.
Plus I always like those sort of ‘two sides to a story’ movie setups. You see a broken light swinging around in one story, and the second story explains how it got that way. It’s not an easy thing to pull off – you run the risk of making the first part of the story incomprehensible because there is too many pieces that won’t be filled in until the next part, but Fukasaku and screenwriter Tetsuya Oishi do a good job of providing a lot of these type of “ohhhh.... that’s how that happened” moments without sacrificing story coherence.
Sadly, no US release is planned for this one yet, though since it’s been released in Japan and other countries, perhaps those among you who know their way around a region free DVD player can figure out how to get their hands on a copy. And then tell me how, because I can’t make heads or tails of that stuff.
Note - you may notice my review is rather vague compared to usual. That's because I think the movie is best when you go in totally blind, as I did. But because I like to serve, here is the (too long) trailer for the movie nonetheless. Watch at your own risk (of not enjoying the movie as much as me)!
What say you?