Hong Kong Digital is sponsored by Poker Industries. Please see the Hong Kong Digital home page for a special offer from Poker Industries to Hong Kong Digital readers.

Issue #143a HOME E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com BACK ISSUES January 20th, 2003

Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl
(1998; Tohokashinsha Film Company)

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

Japanese: Samehada otoko to momojori onna

Timid hotel employee Toshiko (Sie Kohinata) decides one morning to flee from her hentai uncle and manages to crash her vehicle into a car carrying two yakuza killers. Their target is Samehada (Tadanobu Asano, the super masochist with the slit cheeks in ICHI THE KILLER), who absconded with 100 million yen from the mob's "petty cash." Deciding that she never wants to go back to her old miserable existence, Toshiko teams up with Samehada (who is actually a marshmallow beneath his tough guy exterior) and the pair try to stay one step ahead of their pursuers. Determined to have his niece back, the uncle calls in Yamada (Tatsuya Gashuin), an incredibly nerdy and spastic throwback who is clearly not cut out to be a killer, despite his high tech arsenal and gadgets.

Based on the like-named manga by Minetaro Mochizuki, this is another quirky Japanese black comedy that is low on narrative but filled to the brim with eccentric characters and offbeat exchanges. The gang boss' son (FREEZE ME's Shingo Tsurumi) is an obnoxious cretin, with the nose of a bloodhound, who parades around in a bullet proof suit. The team leader is an icy, unflappable killer who is phased by nothing...except the fact that people might learn that he wears a toupee or make fun of his hobby: collecting old aluminum signs. The creme de la crazies, however, is Yamada, and Gashuin's performance hits new heights of fey strangeness, particularly when he first catches sight of Samehada... and instantly falls in love with him! By contrast, Asano and Kohinata are low-key and genuinely likeable, and it does not take long for the viewer to really start caring about their fate (particularly during the tense finale).

The editing is especially good, heightening both the humor and the intermittent bits of drama, and there are a couple of nicely executed twists in the last reel. Sex and violence levels are uncharacteristically low as these pictures go, so those desiring the excesses of Miike or Ishii will be shifting in their seats by the halfway point. Others able to get on the movie's wavelength, however, will likely find it to be an engagingly bizarre ride..

Cover art courtesy Rapid Eye Movies.

Tadanobu Asano. Image courtesy Rapid Eye Movies.

Sie Kohinata. Image courtesy Rapid Eye Movies.
Rapid Eye Movies #DVD 2003 (German label)

Dolby Digital 2.0

Sync Sound Japanese Language Track

Optional Subtitles in English and German

10 Chapters (not illustrated and titles only provided in German)

Letterboxed (1.84:1)

Coded for Region 2 Only

Macrovision Encoded

PAL Format

109 Minutes

Contains moderate violence, mild sexual violence, mild sexual content, and coarse language

DVD menu courtesy Rapid Eye Movies.

Germany: 18
Hong Kong: IIB
Singapore: RA


SHARK SKIN MAN AND PEACH HIP GIRL has been available as a Region 2 NTSC DVD for a couple years. However, like most Japanese DVDs, it carries a substantial price tag and those with PAL playback capability now have a more economical alternative in this German release. However, they will have to do without the anamorphic transfer, Dolby Digital 5.1, and DTS options available on the more expensive disc. The NTSC DVD also offers a wealth of untranslated extras relating to the movie, while this one only contains a photo gallery, plus the original Japanese teaser and trailer. REM's transfer looks a bit soft, with reserved colors, and some grainy night sequences. The audio is energetic and effective but one still cannot help but wonder what it would have been like at full tilt. An insert booklet includes a brief English interview with writer/director Katsuhiko Ishii plus German notes on the film and an Asano bio in that language. Additional trailers for AUDITION, DEAD OR ALIVE, PORNOSTAR, ELECTRIC DRAGON 80.000 V, WILD ZERO, and VISITOR Q round out the deal.

is available at Poker Industries.

Having problems printing this review with Netscape? Go to the File option in the Netscape Task Bar, click the Page Setup from the sub-menu and make sure that in the Page Options listings, the Black Text box is clicked. This should resolve the "no text" printing problem.

Click here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography

Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2003. All Rights Reserved.
E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com