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Issue #129a HOME E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com BACK ISSUES October 14th, 2002

Freeze Me
(2000; KSS Films/Nikkatsu Corporation/Femme Fatale)

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

Alternate English Title: Freezer

Five years after she was raped in her small home town, Chihiro (Harumi Inoue) has completely turned her life around and now has a good job in a Tokyo office building and a loving boyfriend (GONIN 2's Shunsuke Matsuoka). However, Chihiro's past comes back to haunt her when Hirokawa (THE PERFECT EDUCATION's Kazuki Kitamura) appears out of nowhere one morning and forces his way into her apartment. One of the three men who assaulted her, Hirokawa reminds Chihiro that the attack was caught on videotape and he threatens to distribute stacks of video grabs he has made from the recording. Hirokawa also notifies the woman that his fellow attackers, Baba (TOKYO FIST's Naoto Takenaka) and Kojima (BLACK ANGEL's Shingo Tsurumi), will soon be joining them so that they may torment their victim again. Shame prevented Chihiro from reporting the original crime but, when Hirokawa's meddling causes her to lose both her job and her boyfriend, Chihiro inches past the breaking point and kills the man. She must decide what to do with the body...and what about the two other men yet to arrive?

While largely the province of exploitation in Western films, rape often figures into mainstream Japanese movies and writer/director Takashi Ishii (GONIN 1 & 2) comments on how this continues to shape the attitudes of Japanese men. The violators (each a repugnant stereotype) not only do not hide from their crime but plan to celebrate its anniversary with a re-enactment! They even financially profit from their transgression by selling copies of the videotape by mail order. We are also reminded of the situation Japanese women traditionally find themselves in: expected to be deferential to men, they must also suffer the shame and humiliation of rape in silence. While certainly unpleasant, Ishii presents the sexual violence in a fairly restrained manner (it appears largely in bits and pieces via flashbacks and is more heard than clearly seen) and is able to generate more genuine sympathy for Chihiro than is the norm for these pictures. It is doubtful that the director set out to emulate Ingmar Bergman's THE VIRGIN SPRING but FREEZE ME does boast touches that qualify it as a kind of dark fable. The requisite doses of contemporary black comedy and bloody horror co-exist with visually arresting moments that lend the picture a very different ambience (in particular, a poetically beautiful snowfall that comforts Chihiro after the original attack). There is also an ending that satisfies in the manner of classic tragedies. This is no art film, however. Former manga illustrator Ishii has it both ways by casting body beautiful model Inoue as his protagonist and having her parade through more of the movie naked than is really necessary, This is a bit troubling but also an interesting contradiction often found in Japanese cinema that leaves one with even more to contemplate afterwards.

Cover art courtesy Media Blasters.

Harumi Inoue (right). Image courtesy Media Blasters.

Harumi Inoue. Image courtesy Media Blasters.
Tokyo Shock/Media Blasters #TSDVD-0213 (U.S. Label)

Dolby Digital 2.0

Sync Sound Japanese and Dubbed English Language Tracks

Optional English Subtitles

20 Chapters Illustrated in the Menu With (Tiny) Stills

Enhanced for 16:9 Displays

Letterboxed (1.92:1)

Coded for Region 1 Only

105 Minutes (running time includes new English language end credits)

Contains sexual violence, moderate violence, moderate horror, nudity, sexual content, and coarse language

DVD menu courtesy Media Blasters.

Great Britain: 18
Hong Kong: III
Singapore: PG [Passed With Cuts]


The slightly overmatted image looks nice more often than not. The print source has a few small blemishes, blacks are a bit light, and mild grain pops up intermittently but none of these are a major distraction. While not 5.1, the stereo track is rich and effective. There is also a shoddy monaural English dubtrack that is not even worth considering. Regardless, Media Blasters runs the names of these performers BEFORE any of the Japanese actors or technicians in their end crawl! The original Japanese credits now run AFTER this video generated translation, which should have been relegated to a separate chapter. It is an annoying bit of tampering that mars an otherwise laudable presentation. Extras consist of a short Ishii biography/filmography, the original Japanese trailer, trailers for three other Ishii films (BLACK ANGEL 1 & 2 and GONIN 2), plus spots for ROBOTRIX, BLOOD, VISTOR Q, and WILD CRIMINAL.

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