With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Sunday, February 17, 2008

ACF 075: "Nightmare Detective" DVD Streets 02.19.08

Nightmare Detective / Akumu tantei
Directed by Shinya Tsukamoto
Japan 2006

Great box art image.
(Aside from the knife, however, it has nothing to do with the film.)

The relatively new Dimension Extreme label from Genius Products and The Weinstein Company will be releasing this film as a single DVD on Tuesday, February 19, 2008. It's a tense, taught and gripping horror/thriller from one of Japan's best directors.

The film's New York premiere was a joint presentation of Subway Cinema's New York Asian Film Festival 2007 and Japan Society's JAPAN CUTS film series last summer. I reviewed the film in ACF 037 in July 2007, so I won't go into great detail about the story line here.

Briefly put, weird, apparent suicides seem to be related to a suicide website and to cell phone calls to a mysterious "0" ("Zero"). There's some suggestion that this individual is entering the victims' dreams and making them kill themselves. While some of the detectives assigned to the cases approach the deaths using traditional techniques, others explore supernatural explanations. Leading this effort is Keiko (pop star Hitomi in her first film role).

Nightmare Detective Kyoichi (Ryuhei Matsuda) & Police Detective Keiko (Hitomi)

She's a former desk-jockey who's sought transfer to get away from the theoretical and into hands-on field work. She also happens to wear tight mini-skirts and high heels, all the better to show off her magnificent legs.

She enlists the services of Kyoichi (Ryuhei Matsuda, of Otakus In Love), a troubled, suicidal youth who can enter peoples' dreams. He's reluctant to assist in the case because of the physical and psychological dangers posed. Though suicidal, he doesn't want to die in someone else's dream.

Matters come to a head when one detective and then Keiko herself place calls to "0." With their lives in jeopardy, will Kyoichi stay uninvolved or will he change his mind and risk all to assist the investigators?

Shinya Tsukamoto, who wrote and directed the film, also stars as "0." He first came to prominence with his two Tetsuo films, Tetsuo (1989) and Tetsuo II: Body Hammer (1992). Truly multi-talented, his achievements as writer, director, producer, actor, editor, etc. are incredible. Use the preceding link to check out his filmography if you haven't already.

As for the DVD release itself, the transfer is superb and the audio crystalline. It has both original Japanese Dolby 5.1 and English-dubbed Dolby 5.1 soundtracks. There are removable English, English for the deaf and hearing-impaired, or Spanish subtitles to choose from.

While there are not many extras, The Making of Nightmare Detective featurette, which runs nearly an hour, is one of the best of it's kind. This might have a lot do do with the fact that it was directed by Tsukamoto himself. Really insightful interviews with him and the other principle actors make it a must-watch. The only other extra is the obligatory theatrical trailer.

I enjoyed this film even more the second time around and was every bit as engrossed as the first time, even though I knew how things evolved. The film's outstanding because it succeeds in putting you right in its nightmares and hoping that Kyoichi and Keiko will somehow manage to get not only themselves but also you out.

Nightmare Detective definitely deserves the ACF rating of 3.5 out of 4 stars (highly recommended) that I originally gave it.

The extras get a 3 out of 4 star (good) rating.

Note: Tsukamoto's Nightmare Detective 2 is in post-production. Something definitely to look forward to. Here's hopin' Dimension Extreme will again be there for us Asian film fans when it's time for a DVD release of that sequel.

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