Tartan Films’ ‘Asia Extreme’ collection

Part of Tartan Films’ ‘Asia Extreme’ collection, Japan’s Doppelgänger and Korea?s Phone.


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DopplegangerStrangers on a Train meets Terry Gilliam by way of Adaptation in this strange tale of double-crosses and double humans. Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa (no, not THAT Kurosawa), Doppelgänger is the story of a disillusioned inventor who encounters his double, a malevolent twin. Naturally, the twin begins to ruin his life and jeopardize his new invention, a robotic body for paraplegics.

Miss-marketed as a straight horror film (to milk in those post-Ring dollars), Doppelgänger undergoes a serious shift in tone about 30 minutes in, when it drops the scares and becomes a delightfully bizarre black comedy. Employing the same surrealism as Battle Royale and Takeshi Miike films, the world of this film is one where,not only can exact human doubles exist without explanation or alarm, but, where people can be hit repeatedly with large metal objects and not suffer any serious emotional or physical trauma.

Featuring innovative split screen camera-work, some beautiful shots of rural Japan and an acute sense of the absurd, Doppelgänger is a fun little ride bolstered immeasurably by its uniqueness and wit. Worth at least a rental and definitely a purchase for fans of Japanese genre films.

 

Phone 

PhoneFor a grim little film about a possessed VHS tape, it?s amazing how influential Ringu was. Case in point: Phone. Featuring all the prerequisites of a rip-off ? a diabolical telephone, a spooky child, a reporter, high school girls incurring the wrath first, etc., Phone has the advantages of a terrific finale, a wonderful child actress, and a very creative director.  Unfortunately, the d?j? vu is all but palpable, and the obvious talent both in front of and behind the camera only shine through in a few scenes (three scenes in particular almost justify the rest of the film ? a scene in an elevator, a scene on a beach, and the ending). The running time is a problem as well, exaggerating the sense of? been-there, done-that?.

If you did like the movie ? and many did, it was a number 1 hit ? or want to give it a try anyway, you can purchase it here. I can?t bring myself to recommend it to anyone but die-hard fans.

 

Tartan Films should be proud of themselves; both films have beautiful prints and a wealth of dutifully subtitled extras. The full Asia Extreme catalog can be found here.