Apr 5, 2010

Sun Scarred

Been a while since I've written anything down with the exception of several snail-mail letters to my significant other. Truth be told, I don't really recall how this transference of thought-to-virtual paper operates anymore. In light of Soiled Sinema's hiatus, I've managed to watch fewer movies than I should have. My big kick as of recently has been the Death Wish franchise which is a bumpy ride at that. During my in depth immersion into the world of Paul Kersey, vigilante-for-hire with a 1/8th motivation of revenge, I've become stricken with the media craze of revenge. Perusing through articles and films alike, hell, even thumbing through "ex-girlfriend" web pages, I've become acquainted with this idea of violent retaliation and in a sick sense, I can't wait for my chance to thrive off of a blood lust. With these fundamental ideas in mind, my reception of Sun Scarred (Scars of the Sun) might differ from those Miike enthusiasts but I promise to appreciate this film's accidental approachability while embracing the fevered flaws that pepper most of Miike's modicum.

What started off as a seasonal viewing some odd months ago, I got about halfway through Sun Scarred when some random event arose and I had it on an indefinite pause until now. While I feel as if this film wasted itself away with it's high-rise levels of intensity to bottom out to watching paint dry, I feel had the film had a stronger opening, I might have never had paused it for little-to-no reason. The story is about as parallel to most revenge films as you'd imagine. The formula is altered in the way that our Japanese "salaryman" (aren't they all?) breaks up a group of youngsters attacking someone and winds up falcon punching a lollipop-toting metro-sexual whose very idea is a rip off of popular anime/manga character "L" from Death Note. This incredibly obvious tracing is the main reason why I can't take this certain character for all the ruthlessness they aspired to have him offer. If not for the lollipop then the terrible quirkiness attempted and the squeakiness of his annoying Oriental voice. With that being riffed to death, we'll move onto the continuation of the story arc. After punching the effeminate Kamiki several times and receiving all the blame as he is a minor, Kamiki kidnaps our hero's (Katayama) daughter and murders her off screen. Racked with guilt and terrible oppressive media, Katayama's wife hurls herself off the roof of a building in a scene that I can only describe as shocking.

The effectiveness of this particular scene is the general disgust and phobia that comes with death attributed to falling. Or perhaps that's just my acrophobia talking? When filmed correctly and as harrowing and swift as the event is, the final result is unnerving. For more crashbang attempts at this science of brutality, note both [rec] films as being leaders in this under-appreciated moving portrait of living fast and dying hard. Combined with the blood dripping and his later breakdown, Katayama doesn't really sell his chops enough to be the miserable man that he is aiming to be. After all is said and done, Kamiki finds himself being released 3 years later for good behavior. Being a vengeful sprite, Katayama sets out on his obsessive quest to bring his own hard boiled justice to Kamiki and his youthful accomplices who are itching to kill.

What consistently works in Sun Scarred is often shadowed over by what doesn't quite work. Being helmed by cinema's love-him-or-hate-em master of whatever he does exactly, Miike's impression is definitely left on this blank faced revenge tale that serves as a commentary on youth violence more so than it does on the faults of the justice system or the importance of violence in every ones life. While Sun Scarred doesn't play too head on with the issue of violence in youth or that children kill for nothing, a few key scenes really comb through the problem with a fine teeth. One scene in particular is when Katayama disarms a child with a pistol and beats him around a bit. When he attempts to withdraw pertinent information from the child, the kid remains on the ground holding his bloody nose crying for his mother. Combine this layered aesthetic of "youth in revolt" with perhaps one of the more satisfying paybacks in recent cinema, Sun Scarred is an exceptional entry in the revenge thriller sub genre while not being bogged down by a decent opening and a terribly slow middle; but it's the calculatingly furious finale which proves that Miike still has what made him one of Japan's angriest directors as of recent but even so, with this wild card expect heaps of unwatchable trash with bits of fine metals littering the piles.



665+1 said...

I just might say 'yes' to a Miike flick for the first time in ages with this one- I've long found him way too inconsistent and overrated (I'm more a Kiyoshi Kurosawa kinda guy myself), but he's had his moments and this seems to be one of 'em.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Michael Winner and J. Lee Thompson are both piles of rancid dog-shit simply because they are British but Allen A. Goldstein is O.K. because hes American (as long as hes heterosexual as well which i assume he is).