Rampo Noir (Hong Kong Version) VCD
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YesAsia Editorial Description
Mirror Hell, directed by Jissoji Akio, sees a detective (Asano again) following a trail of beautiful female corpses back to a mad mirror maker. The Caterpillar (by Sato Hisayasu) sees a limbless war veteran return home only to be systematically abused by his wife. And in Crawling Bugs, by manga artist Kaneko Atsushi, a chauffeur (Asano yet again) becomes obsessed with his actress employer.
|Product Title:||Rampo Noir (Hong Kong Version) 亂步地獄 (香港版) 乱步地狱 (香港版) 乱歩地獄 （香港版） Rampo Noir (Hong Kong Version)|
|Artist Name(s):||Asano Tadanobu (Actor) | Narimiya Hiroki (Actor) | Matsuda Ryuhei (Actor) 淺野忠信 (Actor) | 成宮寬貴 (Actor) | 松田龍平 (Actor) 浅野忠信 (Actor) | 成宫宽贵 (Actor) | 松田龙平 (Actor) 浅野忠信 (Actor) | 成宮寛貴 (Actor) | 松田龍平 (Actor) Asano Tadanobu (Actor) | Narimiya Hiroki (Actor) | Matsuda Ryuhei (Actor)|
|Subtitles:||English, Traditional Chinese|
|Place of Origin:||Japan|
|Publisher:||Universe Laser (HK)|
|Package Weight:||120 (g)|
|Shipment Unit:||1 What is it?|
|YesAsia Catalog No.:||1004481859|
This is an eclectic compilation of four stylistically different films, based on the masterpieces of great Japanese mystery writer, Edogawa Rampo (a pseudonym based on Edgar Allan Poe). These dark narratives, entitled Mars’ Canal, Mirror Hell, Caterpillar and Crawling Bug, are mysterious forays into grotesque and erotic fantasy worlds.
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- Rampo Noir (Hong Kong Version) DVD Region 3
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- Ranpo Jigoku (Rampo Noir) Deluxe Edition (Japan Version) DVD Region 2
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Professional Review of "Rampo Noir (Hong Kong Version)"
This professional review refers to Rampo Noir (Hong Kong Version)
Edogawa Rampo (real name: Taro Hirai) is widely considered to be the father of the Japanese detective story. In crafting his own horrific tales, he is said to have been inspired by the famous mystery stories written by Sherlock Holmes' creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and also those by the originator of the detective genre itself, Edgar Allan Poe (the penname "Edogawa" is a play on Poe's name). Now, some forty years after his death, four Japanese filmmakers have teamed up to adapt his work for the silver screen in Rampo Noir, a bizarre, often disturbing omnibus film from directors Suguru Takeuchi, Akio Jissoji, Hisayasu Sato, Atsushi Kaneko. All four of these chilling tales star Asano Tadanobu (The Taste of Tea, Ichi the Killer) who plays a number of different characters throughout this increasingly strange motion picture.
The introductory film, titled "Mars Canal", is little more than a brief, impressionistic tale about…well, that's a bit hard to say. Directed by Suguru Takeuchi, this section of the film features Asano as an unnamed character wandering around butt naked in a vast, foreboding environment. Eventually, everything spins out of control into what amounts to a fairly violent update of the old Greek myth of Narcissus. There's no real narrative to speak of here, and don't bother adjusting your volume controls either - there's no sound. All "Mars Canal" really has going for it is its imagery, which is arresting and yet creepy enough to make you uneasy as events play out. But as far as story goes, there's little to recommend. When all is said and done, "Mars Canal" is more or less a tone-setting prologue rather than a full-fledged narrative.
More interesting is the film's second story, "Mirror Hell". It's a more conventionally told tale to be sure, but it's no less shocking. Akio Jissoji directs this tale, which features Kogoro Akechi (also played by Asano), who is by far Edogawa Rampo's most famous character. Akechi comes across as a brainy Sherlock Holmes-type who inserts himself into an investigation involving the bizarre deaths of two women. And "bizarre" is probably putting it lightly - both women had their faces melted clean off! Assisted by a young Watson-type, Akechi sees a connection in the cases - an old-fashioned mirror was present in the room where each death occurred. Akechi connects the mirrors to Toru Itsuki (Hiroki Narimiya), the very definition of the bishonen aesthetic. A mirror maker himself, Toru seems to have unlocked the secret of the "Shadow Mirror," a black magic spell of sorts that's always been thought of as a myth, but seems to have some real consequences. The film makes a few missteps (most obviously, Toru's S&M seduction of his sister-in-law (Harumi Ogawa) is unintentionally funny and goes on a bit longer than it should) but the compelling cat and mouse game between Toru and the Master Detective Akechi - not to mention the more linear storyline - makes this one of the best sections of the film. In fact, Asano's performance in "Mirror Hell" makes one wish a whole series of adventures starring Asano as Akechi could some day be in the offering.
Asano returns as Akechi in the next story, "Caterpillar", one of the most bizarre films in the anthology. This time around, he is accompanied by a female Watson-type, but Akechi's appearance in the narrative is little more than a glorified cameo. This third entry is actually about Lieutenant Sunaga (Nao Omori), a legendary war hero who returns home in a horrible state: no arms, no legs, facially disfigured, mute, and drooling. Clearly, he's seen better days. His young, sexually-charged wife Tokiko (Yukiko Okamoto) spends most of her days caring for her "pet caterpillar," but often takes out her frustrations on him, doling out plenty of abuse on her helpless hubby. She whips him, cuts him, and tortures him, before finally succumbing to her own erotic impulses. If you enjoy seeing a nubile young woman engage in kinky sex with an armless, legless Toxic Avenger clone, then this one's definitely for you.
Hanging around this deranged duo is Taro Hirai (Ryuhei Matsuda of NANA), a voyeur who takes an expressed interest in their sadomasochistic tendencies. He is in fact the "Man with Twenty Faces," the villainous rival of Kogoro Akechi both here and in Rampo's stories, but this little detail is put to little use in the film. Taro's role is instead to expose the twisted truth about Lieutenant Sunaga's mutilation, which culminates in a sickly romantic gesture that some viewers may or may not anticipate. Of all the films, "Caterpillar" most resembles cheesy exploitation cinema or even a crappy Category III horror/sex flick from Hong Kong, albeit with a more polished sheen. Based on this fact alone, it's likely that some viewers will revel in this segment's trashiness, while others will be rolling their eyes in disbelief as they eagerly await the next story in the anthology.
The final segment of the film is Atsushi Kaneko's "Crawling Bugs", a sick, sick, SICK little story with an even more disturbing twist. This time around, Asano plays a pathologically shy chauffeur with a bad skin condition. He hates to be around people and when his anxiety increases, his skin starts to itch uncontrollably. We soon learn that the driver has developed a huge crush on a beautiful actress (Tamaki Ogawa), but when he finally works up the courage to profess his love for her, things go horribly, horribly wrong. He kills her, and brings her body home, believing that just by being close to her, he can cure both his skin condition and his overwhelming anxiety. And then things get even weirder as the line between reality and imagination is blurred considerably. Although "Crawling Bugs" is already more than a little off-putting in terms of subject matter, the final twist reveals an added dimension to the story that gives meaning to the film's dizzying surrealism. But even having said that, the film's horribly gory final visual is one image I wish I could wipe from my memory. It puts a definitive exclamation point at the end of the film, but boy, is it disturbing.
So is Rampo Noir worth watching? Well, for Asian horror fans looking take a break from the various Ring/Ju-on/One Missed Call clones on the market, the non-formulaic Rampo Noir is a welcome horror alternative. It's not scary per se, but it is horrifying in every sense of the word. In that light, Rampo Noir is a daring exploration of the horror genre, but let's be clear, it's also a journey that not all of us may be willing to take. This is one film that's definitely not for the squeamish.
by Calvin McMillin
This professional review refers to Ranpo Jigoku (Rampo Noir) Deluxe Edition (Japan Version)
Forget wells and videos and all manner of watery metaphors, Rampo Noir returns to the source with a refreshingly new bent. Based on stories by Japanese gothic horror author Edogawa Rampo, this collection of short films is both experimental and confronting in a way that cheap frights will never, ever be, and it's actually not an easy thing to watch.
The anthology opens with Mars Canal, directed by Takeuchi, and for the first few minutes, I probably wasn't the only person wondering whether someone had forgotten to plug in the speakers. Just remember that the key word here is conceptual. None of the three films that follow are what you'd call straight, but this first one is probably the most "out there" in terms of coherent, traditional narrative. It's actually a little like a performance piece, and as such, you might start to ask yourself what's going on. Don't. Or at least, don't ask too hard. This is not a stable piece; it's up to you to interpret it. It's primal, beautiful, violent and disturbing, without ever being anything more than naked bodies, shadows, lakes and noise.
And it's probably me, but I like things to tie in, even vaguely, so from Mars Canal, to the seemingly tame by comparison Mirror Hell, directed by Jissôji Akio, I kind of want to draw parallels between lakes and reflections and mirrors and inner truths, but what I see forming instead, is a walk on the dark side of love. This time Asano Tadanobu features as a detective trying to solve a series of baffling deaths, where formerly lovely women are found with their faces missing and something in their possession. That thing connects them to the even lovelier artisian, Toru, played with alluring intensity by Narimiya Hiroki (Azumi). Obsessed with achieving perfection and trapped by inherited expectations, Toru's surface looks polished, but underneath something monstrous is trying to get out.
Which leads, tenuously no doubt, to the metamorphosis of Satou Hisayasu's Caterpillar (and yes, that is Nao Omori, would you believe it?). Artist Taro Hirai (Matsuda) is a seemingly idle observer of the love that Tokiko (Okamoto Yukiko) holds for her badly injured, war veteran husband (Omori). The horror here is not the state of the husband, or the revelations that begin to seep through the cracks of the three characters' bizarre relationship, but the idea that what we are witnessing is still love. Taro in his capacity as unbiased witness helps anchor and stabilize that idea, that it is only other people's rules that name something 'abuse' and not 'love'. And when reduced down to those terms, Caterpillar is by far the most disturbing segment in the whole film.
At least, it is until the money shot at the end of Crawling Bugs, directed by Kaneko Atsushi, and this segment is where Asano shows why he is the hottest, most versatile, and possibly the most mesmerizing and incomprehensible actor in Asia. In an interview during the Hong Kong International Film Festival 2006 where Rampo Noir screened, the actor said of this and the other bizarre, edgy parts he has played in the past, that he just 'does what the director says to do'. He would probably consider 'incomprehensible' an inaccurate adjective, but when you see this segment, you'll be glad his acting approach isn't method after all. Crawling Bugs is fairly straight-forward to start with, lush and theatrical looking, until the edges of reality blur and you start to realize that Masaki's (Asano) obsession for actress Kinoshita Fuyou (Ogawa Tamaki) may not be quite as textbook as it appears. His stability is seriously questionable, but only from an outsider's point of view. Inside, every decision made is a desperate act to have what he wants and needs, culminating in a cinematic visual you'll be hard pressed to ever fully banish from your mind.
Rampo Noir leaves you on that note, with all the fully fledged, unsteady queasiness of a good horror flick, with none of the formula and all of the chills. Nightmare ride without meaning, or something with deeper, darker connotations, this anthology has far more in common with Tsukamoto Shinya than it does with Nakata Hideo. The point is reinvention, breaking the stale boundaries of current modern horror, and the safe, certain confines of your expectations.
9 jars of formaldehyde out of 10
by Deni Stoner
Customer Review of "Rampo Noir (Hong Kong Version)"
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February 10, 2011
This customer review refers to Rampo Noir (Hong Kong Version)
|In the four stories contained within "Rampo Noir", we find no characters about whom we care and there is never a 'moral to the story'. Instead, we get a series of graphic images of depraved people doing terrible things to other people, with all of it wrapped in pseudo-intellectual arthouse trappings. Shocking? Yes. Disgusting? Yes. Degrading? You betcha. If that's your cup of tea, well, I hope I never run into you.|
See all my reviews
October 11, 2006
This customer review refers to Ranpo Jigoku (Rampo Noir) Deluxe Edition (Japan Version)
This is probably one of the best films I have ever seen. Yes, not just one of the best Japanese films, one of the best films EVER. The style is sensational and the acting is terrific - it's just such a unique film which makes it that little bit more special.
HOWEVER, in the description of the film, it says that you get a special booklet...I didnt. The only things I got were an average/normal package, the disc and the scene list. That disappointed me greatly as I love to read about films.