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Issue #128 HOME E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com BACK ISSUES October 7th, 2002

(1999; Taki Corporation/GAGA Communications/Suncent CinemaWorks)

A Masterpiece
Highly Recommended
Very Good
Marginal Recommendation
Not Recommended
Definitely Not Recommended

Japanese: Kaosu

After dining in an elegant restaurant one evening with his beautiful young wife, Saori (THE RING 1 & 2's Miki Nakatani), middle-aged businessman Komiyama (CURE's Masato Hagiwara) goes to pay the bill, while she steps outside ahead of him. When he leaves the premises to join her, Saori is nowhere to be found. Not long afterwards, Komiyama is contacted by a man claiming to have kidnapped the woman. He demands that a ransom of 30 million yen be paid to him the next day. The police (led by THE BLUE JEAN MONSTER's Jun Kunimura) help Komiyama get ready for the rendezvous but things take an unexpected turn when the kidnapper contacts Saori's sister and demands that she bring him money at a different location. Flashbacks reveal that Saori herself set up the kidnapping, enlisting the aid of a shy young handyman (Ken Mitsuishi), who carefully planned out every detail. However, The Handyman eventually must pursue his own investigation, as events begin to spiral out of control.

It becomes apparent early on that nothing is what it seems in this intricate and largely successful mystery/thriller from director Hideo Nakata. Events play out in a seemingly random order, leaving the viewer to guess how the film (adapted from a novel by Shogo Utano) will turn in on itself next. Rest assured that everything does add up in the end, though one character's actions in the final minutes do remain intriguingly inexplicable. Nakata garnered wide notoriety for THE RING and he does not totally abandon the horror genre here, as events include a late night corpse disposal and a seemingly dead person up and walking around. Most notably, the atmosphere he conveys is almost consistently ominous, with Kenji Kawai's score being particularly effective in this area. There is also a very palpable degree of eroticism here, despite a complete lack of overt sex or, even, nudity. For a mystery, some might be disappointed to learn that the traditional procedural aspects hardly enter into things: this is a puzzle guided more by the characters' deceit than any physical clues (though Nakata does help the audience along with some subtle visual cues). If the film has a nagging fault, it lies in the sketchy characters. While providing only a few tidbits of background here and there is obviously important for the type of structure CHAOS utilizes, the viewer is caught up in the proceedings more through the offbeat design, rather than via any great emotional investment in the protagonists or their fates.

Like THE RING, CHAOS is being remade in America, with Universal Pictures' interpretation (directed by Jonathan Glazer, and starring Robert DeNiro and Benicio Del Toro) due out next year. Screenwriter Hisashi Saito's ending will almost certainly be the first thing that gets jettisoned, as it would not have a chance of surviving the audience preview card process or (likely) the committee approach that has dumbed down Hollywood movies to a frightening degree in recent years.

Cover art courtesy Spectrum.

Masato Hagiwara. Image courtesy Spectrum.

Miki Nakatani. Image courtesy Spectrum.
Spectrum #SPD-820 (South Korea label)

Dolby Digital 2.0

Optional Subtitles In English and Korean

16 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Clips

Enhanced for 16:9 Displays

Letterboxed (1.89:1)

Coded for ALL Regions (The box carries the Region 3 symbol but the disc is actually all-region)

104 Minutes

Contains mild violence, coarse language, mild sexual content, and mature themes

DVD menu courtesy Spectrum.

Singapore: PG [Passed With Cuts]
South Korea: 15

The slightly overmatted image looks splendid, with vivid hues and excellent detail. Blacks are a tad light but never damagingly so. The Dolby Surround mix features nice atmosphere and good separations. Extras consist of an 11 minute "Making Of..." (in Japanese with optional Korean subs only), plus the Japanese theatrical trailer and TV spot. Oddly, the "Cast and Crew" page lists the director and two stars' names in English but Nakata's bio is only available in Korean. The DVD scores extra points for some very nicely designed moving menus. Note: this one of those DVDs where the "Pan & Scan" option has been utilized. So, if your player is not set to "Letterboxed," the image will display in cropped fullscreen.

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