Director – Ryuhei Kitamura
Cast – Hideo Sakaki, Ryo, Koyuki, Shun Sugata, Erika Oda, Tak Sakaguchi, Jun Kinimura
Release Year – 2002
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Here’s a flick from 2002 brought to us by the classic Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura, who also directed the awesome Asian samurai zombie fest Versus, as well as the recent The Midnight Meat Train, which brought us Vinnie Jones delivering the “goods”. As usual with Ryuhei Kitamura’s Japanese films, he brings us amazing special effects and of course…awesome fight scenes! His American films don’t have the special effects that his Japanese ones do. I guess he has a better SFX team at his dispersal there in Japan?
Anywho, Alive revolves around Tenshu, a death row inmate sentenced to death for the brutal killings of six men who raped his girlfriend. Amazingly, he survives his execution(via the electric chair) and is then given an ultimatum. Either he can face another execution that he WILL NOT survive, or he can live…but be the subject of cruel and bizarre experiments. After choosing the latter, he is placed in an industrial looking room with a rapist, as well as a girl who is infected with an isomer that gives extreme power, yet eats at the host’s humanity. This isomer is constantly looking for new hosts, but the only way it can move from one host to another is for the new host to be in extreme rage(more than that of it’s current host). When Tenshu then becomes the new host of the isomer, he must deal with a military conspiracy that has very evil intentions for him and his new power.
This watch very much follows the classic Ryuhei Kitamura style he has created with his pseudo horror/fighting movies. I really loved the amazing special effects, as well as the fight scenes in this film. As usual, they are spellbinding and will have you awestruck thinking “why can’t we do this here in the US?”. The film starts of really interesting, which I enjoyed, but it did slow down a bit towards the middle. It is not until we uncover why exactly he is in this experimentation room that things really start to pick up. Cha-ching! I really enjoyed the underworld/hell scenes during Henshu’s visions/flashbacks(Asian films can be a bit confusing). The effects were amazing and the diabolical scores of rotting bodies really added some nice touch to a quite goreless movie(sadly, it’s true).
Aside from the film slowing down a bit during the middle, I did not have any other big complaints other than the lack of gore and wanting more fight scenes. In Versus(which came out two years prior to this film) we are shown tons of sweet gore and action scenes, which led me to expect that same level of excitement in this film. Unfortunately, the gore was left out, but we are still left with some pretty sweet action scenes. However, I felt that these action scenes were a little too far spaced apart. Although the last 20 minutes of the film are pretty action packed, the viewer may become a bit impatient after seeing how awesome the first few action scenes are, and then having to wait until the end to see more.(the biggest problem for films with awesome scenes is…we are left wanting more!)
Overall, this is a great film from Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura that comes with an interesting story, amazing direction, and awesome special effects. If you liked Versus then you will like this one because Kitamura once again perfectly blends horror and action/fighting, but without so much gore this time.