Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura.
Written by Isao Kirayama and Ryuhei Kitamura. Based on a
Starring Hideo Sakaki and Ryo.
Release Year: 2002
Review Date: 2/12/03
Commentary on the Oscars and my annual Oscar Pool Picks will come
around the first of March. In the meantime, let it be known—John C.
Reilly was actually nominated for an Oscar. Armageddon will follow
The San Francisco Independent Film Festival
is going on now here in town, and I had to check at least one of
these films out before the Festival finished its run.
Unfortunately, I picked one of the worst films available.
“Alive” is a film by Japanese wunderkind
director Ryuhei Kitamura, who also directed the acclaimed
action/horror film “Versus” back in 2000. Starring Hideo Sakaki as
death row inmate Tenshu Yashiro, “Alive” follows Yashiro as he is
first sent to the electric chair, NOT KILLED because he was tough
enough to absorb most of the shock treatment of the electricity
running through him (???), then used as a guinea pig for a device
found in outer space (???) called the Displacer, which allows its
wearer to displace his immediate space to avoid gunfire and fight at
a level that is best described as “Stolen from ‘The Matrix’” to
dispatch bad guys.
Should the Japanese ever steal ideas from
American films in this day and age? Should the martial arts in a
Japanese film ever be worse than those in American films? No and
But, there they are in plain view in
“Alive”, a film that opened to so-so reviews at the Toronto Film
Festival and in my showing (the American debut of the film), had at
least a few folks boo and hiss on occasion. The 120-minute film has
almost no action, and when it finally does give us some action, it
mostly sucks. I fell asleep two separate times for about five
minutes a piece and I hadn’t even missed anything! The film is a
good-looking Japanese production with some good-looking shots of
sets and actors. Besides this redeeming value, “Alive” is almost
My friend Max, who came with me to check out
“Alive”, thought that “Versus” was much, much better...so, I will
have to hunt out that one to see if this guy Kitamura is all he is
cracked up to be!!
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard