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[Review] Kairo, Merry-Go-Round, The Odd One Dies

Old 05-28-02, 07:23 AM
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[Review] Kairo, Merry-Go-Round, The Odd One Dies

Kairo - Japan - 2001

Kairo is another recent Japanese gem. It's very hard to describe this film, but I'll give it a shot and I'll try not to give too much away. It's a modern ghost story that involves lonliness and the internet. A few groups of characters that seemingly have no relation to each other all stumble upon a certain phenomenon involving people disappearing and strange webcam type sites appearing on the internet. Eventually all paths collide with each other as our main protagonists emerge to find they are all in the same boat. I'm trying to be as vague as possible but still try to tell you what it's about. The film is very strange and has some spectacular visuals. The three of us came away from it confused. I'll have to watch it again I'm sure and I don't think I'll ever get it. David Lynch might as well just pack it up and quit since this goes way beyond his level of conventional weird. I think I get it, but then I know there's something more to it that I'm just not even scratching the surface on... and I consider myself to be pretty sharp about such things. I have a feeling that some of our confusion may come from our western background and I think someone from Japan might 'get it' quicker than someone from the US. That doesn't mean it's inaccessable for the rest of the world though as it still deals with very universal themes.

The special effects in this film are brilliant - this is how CGI is meant to be used. They use computer effects to enhance the scary sh*t rather than create a scary thing out of nothing. The use of camera angles and editing is so beyond what most people are doing. I don't hear much about this film so I can only assume that it's highly underrated because there is some really high production value going on here and some genuine talent in front of and behind the cameras. The film as a conventional horror film isn't quite scary and it isn't all that intense either. It moves slow like syrup, but not like molasses... the pace is fast enough that the film is quite engrossing, but slow enough that you never really feel excited. It's more of a psychological thriller mixed with an artistic noir type of film. This film is really quite deep I think and some people will not see it. They'll think they found the bottom and dismiss it as a shallow special effects ghost movie, but they'll miss the endless abyss beyond that. I'm sorry - I'm getting kinda cryptic and not making much sense... so anyway...

I love Japanese cinema. They really know how to make a bizarre and wonderful film. They have so much creativity it's just mind boggling. They aren't afraid to try something new. Uzumaki was just plain bizarre as all hell and St. Johns Wort was highly innovative. I really didn't want Kairo to end. I wanted to know more. It's the kind of film that leaves you with more questions than answers. Perhaps you've seen it and think you've figured it out, but I'd bet my lunch that you didn't. The world of the film never gets explained by insiders because neither the ghosts nor any of the living characters really know what's going on and there's no omniscient narrator to hold your hand. As each character you encounter figures their piece of the puzzle out and verbalizes it for you, it just make you that much more confused since the puzzle pieces aren't even from the same box.

Out of the three Japanese films I mentioned, Kairo has to be the tightest... Uzumaki has its problems which keep it from being brilliant and St Johns Wort's ending damn near spoils cinematic genius... The acting in Kairo is pretty believable and all the characters are likeable which makes the film that much harder to dismiss. Many films make the mistake of not having any characters to like - all the characters are either really dumb or really evil so you're left asking yourself why you even care what happens to them. Kairo's characters aren't dumb or evil... occasionally you'll be yelling at them for going into the room they're not supposed to go into, but that's part of the fun.

The DVD of Kairo - another Universe release - is minimalistic. It's Region 3 and there is only a 5.1 Japanese track. The audio is nice - mostly front-stage stuff, but the surround definitely comes into play and only when truly required. If you're playing this through your TV speakers, you're missing out. The video is non-anamorphic widescreen. I think the transfer machine needed a little bit of a cleaning and the print wasn't as fresh as it could be either... it's not bad though. The darks are a little oversaturated at times and come out a little grainy, but it could've been the way I have my malata hooked up. The subtitles are very good and they are removable. Seldom spelling and grammar errors - overall a really good translation I think.

8/10 The film may sound like it deserves a higher score from my slathering it with praise, but believe me when I say this film is a high 8... and an 8 is a high score for me. I seldom give out 9 or 10 scores. This film is almost a 9 and I might end up giving it a 9 after a few more viewings. For now though I can say that I highly recommend this film to anyone... I think this film is more cerebral than it seems and than some people would let on. Don't listen to anyone who says it's "Ring with floppy discs instead of video tapes" - they don't know what they're talking about.

The Odd One Dies - Hong Kong - 1997

Takeshi Kaneshiro stars as a quiet guy with no direction who can't catch a break. The film starts off with him getting his ass beat and sent to the hospital. Afterwards he sets out to find a way to make some money so he can split or do something with himself. He ends up being contracted to kill someone. Later, he goes back to the gambling joint where he got beat up and begins betting the retainer fee he got for taking the hitman job. He ends up winning heaps and heaps of cash and decides to hire someone else to kill his mark for him. He chooses a woman who is cut from the same cloth as he is and over time they become close. I won't give away the ending...

This film is pretty gritty and the main characters are likeable dispite being misguided and fairly bad people. Well, they aren't really bad - they just didn't ever get a break in life. Their backstories are more tragic than the movie is. The movie itself is actually somewhat uplifting to a small degree in that the characters get their small retributions over the course of it. Takeshi gives a solid performance here and even if you hated him in Lavender, this will make up for it. The cinematography is unremarkable except that it has more style than most standard HK movies. Wai Ka-Fai wrote it and the story is pretty good. There's alot of wit and dry humor thrown in here and there which keeps things moving along.

The DVD is an older Mei Ah release, but it was transfered after they cleaned their machine but before they started using fresher prints so there's still some wear on the print. It's still a decent transfer and the sound is okay - 2.0 Cantonese or Mandarin. The subtitles are removable and are easy to read and a decent translation job. The video is listed as being 4:3, but it's a little leterboxed actually. Not the OAR I'm sure, but not really 4:3 either. I didn't miss what may or may not have been cropped really.

6/10 - this one gets a high 6 and a recommend from me. It's not great, but it's easily worth the cheap price tag from DDDHouse. There's enough violence in it to satisfy the guys and a quirky yet tender romance for the ladies. There are better movies out there though, so unless you're out of ideas - you can pass on this for now, but once you get around to it you'll probably enjoy it enough to not feel like you wasted your time.

Merry-Go-Round - Hong Kong - 2001

Eric Tsang is in this one playing - you guessed it - the father of this family who opens a noodle shop. I just mention he's in it in case you're sick of Eric Tsang... he's not the main character though. It's a cutesy little romance between these teenagers - the girl looks about 10 years old and the boy looks about 18 though I'm sure their ages are closer than that. Kelly Chen makes a cameo in this (at least I think it was her) as this girl with a mouthfull of braces who desperately wants the young boy's affection. Anyway - so Eric opens a noodle shop that nobody ever eats at and his two children (a teenage boy and a little girl who pulls double duty announcing the titles of each act) try to help him out. They encounter a little boy and his grandmother who are dirt poor and also a teenage girl who's uncle was the previous owner of the shop before they took over. The story kinda flops around like a fish out of water for awhile until it decides to focus on the romance between the teenage son and the teenage girl. Their romance hits a wall when the boy develops feelings for his new girlfriend's sister (who he initially is disgusted by)... I'll spare you the spoiler.

This isn't a guy movie. I like chick flicks and this one was okay - I wouldn't rank it really high among chick flicks, but there's some entertainment here. I know I laughed out loud a few times and I was interested in the characters throughout the film. It never really went anywhere I don't think, but I suppose it didn't have to. The actors are mostly no-namers but they all do a decent job of it.

The DVD is a Delta Mac and is presented as good as most Delta Mac DVDs are. DM is a good company. Subtitles are removable and easy to read, sound is clean with good separation, and the transfer is fairly clean and has good color saturation. Can't go wrong with a Delta Mac DVD.

7/10 - I'd give it a slightly lower score myself, but I've averaged my score with my girlfriend's score because she dug it. She "thought it was cute" so I have to let those words stand as a recommendation. Pick it up for some nice charming fluff. Just don't expect to be enlightened. Also - don't expect anybody really famous either.
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Old 05-28-02, 09:23 AM
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Re: [Review] Kairo, Merry-Go-Round, The Odd One Dies

Originally posted by Trigger
Kairo - Japan - 2001

My brother just told me about this one. Thanks for the lengthy review. It will be on my next order.
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Old 05-28-02, 09:52 AM
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Re: Re: [Review] Kairo, Merry-Go-Round, The Odd One Dies

Originally posted by roseart


My brother just told me about this one. Thanks for the lengthy review. It will be on my next order.
It damn-well should be.
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Old 05-28-02, 10:06 AM
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Re: Re: Re: [Review] Kairo, Merry-Go-Round, The Odd One Dies

Originally posted by Trigger

It damn-well should be.
Here is my next oder (still growing):

- Mr. Wai-Go (Mr. Viagra)
- Uzumaki (R3)
- Conman In Tokyo
- Ashes Of Time
- The Quiet Family (Korean)
- Space Travelers (Japan R3)
- Love Undercover
- My Life as McDull
- Master Q 2001
- A True Mob Story
- Wu Yen (Johnnie To) - Not In-Stock
- Days of being Wild
- The Wesley's Mysterious File
- Pulse
- Robotrix - Not In-Stock
- Cross Fire (Japanese) - Not In-Stock
- Partners
- Rules of the Game
- Princess-D

Trigger, have you had any customs problems with big orders from DDDHouse lately? Someone mentioned their shipment, I think frim HiviZone got stopped.
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Old 05-28-02, 10:21 AM
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Re: Re: Re: Re: [Review] Kairo, Merry-Go-Round, The Odd One Dies

Originally posted by roseart


Here is my next order (still growing):

- Master Q 2001
- Robotrix - Not In-Stock
Don't bother with Robotrix... it's pretty weak IMHO. And for god's sake, take Master Q out of there! Unless you liked the Rocky and Bullwinkle movie so much that you would still like it even if it was only half that good, then I'd advise you to save your money. Hell, I'll sell you my copy if you want...

Trigger, have you had any customs problems with big orders from DDDHouse lately? Someone mentioned their shipment, I think frim HiviZone got stopped.
Nope... never. I've had a problem with my first Hivizone order a long ass time ago, but never with DDDHouse.
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Old 05-28-02, 10:44 AM
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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: [Review] Kairo, Merry-Go-Round, The Odd One Dies

Originally posted by Trigger


Don't bother with Robotrix... it's pretty weak IMHO. And for god's sake, take Master Q out of there! Unless you liked the Rocky and Bullwinkle movie so much that you would still like it even if it was only half that good, then I'd advise you to save your money. Hell, I'll sell you my copy if you want...


Nope... never. I've had a problem with my first Hivizone order a long ass time ago, but never with DDDHouse.
They are showing Robotrix at a local art-house cinema here, and the review and preview looked hilarious. Maybe I'll check it out there instead of getting the DVD.

Master Q - I saw a preview of this, and it just really looked interesting. CG characters with humans (ala Roger Rabbit). If it is that crappy, I will stay away, but what made it so bad (Never seen R&B for good reason). (Cheesy, no point?) I just hear about something and throw it on my list for the hell of it, but I appreciate you letting me know so I don't waste my time & $. I'll have to post my to-get list more often.

Thanks, I was a little worried. I have never ordered from Hivizone, and probably never will. DDDHouse has been great!!!
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Old 05-28-02, 11:14 AM
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Trigger,
Is Kairo more creepy/scarier than Uzumaki? (I only ask because Uzumaki is near the top of my creepiness threshold) [I'm a weeny, I know it. ]

Thanks,
Gabe
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Old 05-28-02, 01:05 PM
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It's creepy, but it's excellent creepiness.

Other Kairo reviews:

http://www.kfccinema.com/reviews/hor...iro/kairo.html

http://www.midnighteye.com/reviews/kairo.shtml

http://www.movieforum.com/features/f...lsekairo.shtml
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Old 05-28-02, 05:36 PM
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Kairo is way creepier than Uzumaki... the Uzumaki trailer is creepier than Kairo, but I think watching the trailer 400 times before watching the movie spoiled all the creepy scenes for me. Kairo is very creepy in a scary way. It won't make you jump, but it'll get under your skin and crawl around making a squishy noise all the while.

Robotrix will indeed be more fun watching in a theater... I rented this with my girlfriend awhile back and it just kinda fell flat with us. I don't think you'll feel like seeing it more than once either... I didn't want to anyway. Master Q I never could sit through, it was worse than watching the pepsi girl ads. Here's my review of Master Q 2001 that you can find here... take it for what it's worth.

I'm sorry - I can't sit through this piece of garbage. I don't know how far into it I am, but it's boring and stupid. It's their version of that Bullwinkle movie that we did here in the US. I hated that one just as much, but I used to love the cartoon when I was a kid. I think the history of the Master Q comics probably dates back a little farther than Rocky and Bullwinkle, but even so - I didn't grow up with it and even if I had I don't think I would get much out of this. It's for children who grew up with those characters... I don't see anything here for intelligent adults. The live characters are incredibly stupid and the CGI characters are even worse. Lots of 3rd grade bathroom humor and some of the subtitles will display "[email protected][email protected][email protected][email protected][email protected][email protected][email protected][email protected][email protected][email protected]!" for something and then will allow words like "****" to be displayed so I have no idea what they are masking with the [email protected][email protected], but it doesn't make sense to me. Perhaps it's something they used to do in the Comic Books?

As for the CGI - it's on par with the Rocky and Bullwinkle movie. Some of the live actors missed their marks (or was it the CG renderers missing theirs?) and there were a few spots where something just didn't look quite right, but it seemed to be ok for the most part.

Anyway - I'd suggest passing on this one, but maybe there's an audience for it. If you liked the Rocky and Bullwinkle movie - perhaps you'll like this. Or if you grew up on heavy doses of the Master Q cartoons and whatnot - maybe this will agree with you, but if that's the case - I imagine you would've already seen it.

It's unfair of me to give it an actual score cuz I haven't sat through the whole thing, but I won't be doing that - so just assume the worst for this one as far as my opinion of it goes.
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Old 05-28-02, 06:42 PM
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Hey Trigger what did you think of the Cure the same guy did Kario also didn't he??? I have Kario but have not watched it yet probably tonight....
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Old 05-28-02, 06:48 PM
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I haven't seen it. I'll probably try to check out The Cure, Charisma, and Seance now that I've seen Kairo. He's a fantastic director. Kairo is very underrated.
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Old 05-28-02, 07:50 PM
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I'm not Trigger, but I think that Cure is a slightly better movie than Kairo. Kairo is great though I would probably give it a 9 out of 10. Cure isn't really a scary movie, but I suppose it has some pretty good suspense. It has a great atmosphere though, that is comparable to Kairo. The ending can be interpreted different ways which I like.
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Old 05-28-02, 07:58 PM
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Screeching Weasel is also into Pirate Punk, so take everything he says with a grain of salt...
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Old 05-28-02, 08:17 PM
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Originally posted by Trigger
Screeching Weasel is also into Pirate Punk, so take everything he says with a grain of salt...
True dat! Is that supposed to be Davey Havok as a child?
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Old 05-28-02, 09:47 PM
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Originally posted by Trigger
I haven't seen it. I'll probably try to check out The Cure, Charisma, and Seance now that I've seen Kairo. He's a fantastic director. Kairo is very underrated.
Seance is *terrible* - it is a remake of an already middling film. But "Cure" is truly excellent. Most critics think that his best is "Charisma" though, even though Charisma isn't exactly horror.
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Old 05-28-02, 10:09 PM
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Originally posted by Trigger
Screeching Weasel is also into Pirate Punk, so take everything he says with a grain of salt...
LOL! (I remember reading that thread you guys had a while back...) [of course, I was reading and thinking to myself... I've never heard of any of these bands...]

Okay, I'll get Kairo too.
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Old 05-28-02, 10:42 PM
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Originally posted by Grimfarrow


Seance is *terrible*
Tsss tsss tsss, no it's not.
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Old 05-28-02, 10:54 PM
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Originally posted by Trigger
Robotrix will indeed be more fun watching in a theater... I rented this with my girlfriend awhile back and it just kinda fell flat with us. I don't think you'll feel like seeing it more than once either... I didn't want to anyway.
Thanks, I'll be checking it out at the theater then.. They serve and food, so that should make it even more fun.

Originally posted by Trigger
Master Q I never could sit through, it was worse than watching the pepsi girl ads. Here's my review of Master Q 2001 that you can find here... take it for what it's worth.

I'm sorry - I can't sit through this piece of garbage. I don't know how far into it I am, but it's boring and stupid. It's their version of that Bullwinkle movie that we did here in the US. I hated that one just as much, but I used to love the cartoon when I was a kid. I think the history of the Master Q comics probably dates back a little farther than Rocky and Bullwinkle, but even so - I didn't grow up with it and even if I had I don't think I would get much out of this. It's for children who grew up with those characters... I don't see anything here for intelligent adults. The live characters are incredibly stupid and the CGI characters are even worse. Lots of 3rd grade bathroom humor and some of the subtitles will display "[email protected][email protected][email protected][email protected][email protected][email protected][email protected][email protected][email protected][email protected]!" for something and then will allow words like "****" to be displayed so I have no idea what they are masking with the [email protected][email protected], but it doesn't make sense to me. Perhaps it's something they used to do in the Comic Books?

As for the CGI - it's on par with the Rocky and Bullwinkle movie. Some of the live actors missed their marks (or was it the CG renderers missing theirs?) and there were a few spots where something just didn't look quite right, but it seemed to be ok for the most part.

Anyway - I'd suggest passing on this one, but maybe there's an audience for it. If you liked the Rocky and Bullwinkle movie - perhaps you'll like this. Or if you grew up on heavy doses of the Master Q cartoons and whatnot - maybe this will agree with you, but if that's the case - I imagine you would've already seen it.

It's unfair of me to give it an actual score cuz I haven't sat through the whole thing, but I won't be doing that - so just assume the worst for this one as far as my opinion of it goes.
And, thanks again. That settled that. $$ reasons, I'm glad to drop it. I tend to go blindly on some of my oders, and then have to mess with Ebay.
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Old 05-28-02, 10:56 PM
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Originally posted by gabegarwick

LOL! (I remember reading that thread you guys had a while back...) [of course, I was reading and thinking to myself... I've never heard of any of these bands...]
Same here.
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