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Retribution

Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Written by Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Starring Koji Yakusho, Manami Konishi, Tsuyoshi Ihana, Joe Odagiri

Produced by Taka Ichise

Rated R

104 minutes

*

Japanese movies are always an exercise in bizarrity. The only problem is, you never know until you get to watching them just what personality will be in today. Seriously, it’s like a Dilbert strip I once read where Catbert’s off firing some guy with multiple personalities and he’s spent all morning firing the twins and the astronaut and the little girl. Japanese movies really are a lot like that.

The question of the day, of course, is who’s in? With Japanese movies you have only a couple possibilities. You have the chatty lunatic who can’t stop talking about ghosts and death and assorted whatnot, and you have the bloodsoaked maniac who can’t kill enough people to keep himself satisfied. Watching movies with the maniac can actually be a fun, thrill-packed, adrenaline fueled ride to oblivion that’s worth every minute. But the chatty lunatic’s movies tend to deal in subtlety so thick you can’t breach it with a pickaxe and dynamite.

Retribution, sadly, is one of the latter.

I’m actually understanding how this came from the director of Pulse—that sucker was a chatty lunatic movie too, frankly, and what’s really creepy is Wes Craven actually made it better. But anyway—Retribution is all about a detective investigating the drowning death of a young woman who, apparently, got drowned in a mud puddle. Which is a hell of a way to die, especially as the clues begin to coalesce around the detective and look more and more like he was the guy who held said young woman’s face in the mud puddle. And, as more mud puddle victims start showing up around town, the detective is left to wonder if he’s the killer.

You can see where I’m going with this already. I spent large portions of Retribution bored out of my ever-loving skull in exchange for the occasional payoff of something freaky, like a chick in a red dress slowly flying up past a window. And frankly, that’s not enough payoff for me to sit though a half-baked crime drama where the murder weapon is a mud puddle.

The ending…oh wow. You thought the rest of the movie was half-baked, the ending is about a quarter baked. I had to go back three or four times to make sure the DVD didn’t skip. It didn’t…it’s just that bad.

The special features include English and Spanish subtitles, audio options, an alternate ending (which isn’t all that much better, really), a making-of featurette for the alternate ending and trailers for The Eye, The Eye 2, Ju-On: The Grudge, Ju-On 2, Premonition, Werewolf Hunter: The Legend of Romasanta and the freaky Fearnet trailer.

All in all, Retribution, sadly, will not bring terribly many thrills along with it, which puts it low on the totem pole for Japanese imports.

Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.


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