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Overall Rating
3.57

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look85.71%
Just Average: 0%
Pretty Crappy: 0%
Sucks: 14.29%

1 review, 1 rating


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Negative Happy Chain Saw Edge
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by Jay Seaver

"We need more introspective team dramas with titles like this."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2008 FANTASIA FESTIVAL: Funny thing about fantasy entertainment - we get so caught up in the forms and mythologies and visuals of them, that we often seem to forget just why fantasy exists. "Escapism" is a word we throw around, but it's generally meant to refer to the audience, rather than the characters, even though they're likely the ones who need an escape.

Start with Yosuke (Hayato Ichihara). He's a fairly ordinary high school student who has been sneaking out of his dormitory more ever since his buddy Noto (Haruma Miura) died. One night, he comes across Eri (Megumi Seki), a beautiful but morose girl who engages in a nightly battle with a giant chainsaw-wielding maniac; it's a good thing she has a fuku filled with throwing knives to go along with preternatural strength, reflexes, and fighting skills. Yosuke is immediately taken with her, and starts trying to help. Naturally, he's in the way more than he's actually useful, but after a while she seems to be glad to have him around.

I admit it - I was there for the pretty girl fighting a gigantic marauder that fell from the sky with a chainsaw. I imagine most of the audience was, and I doubt many of us were wondering why Eri was fighting this guy aside from how he might be putting the citizens of Tokyo in peril and what arcane agency had bestowed powers upon her; the smitten but ineffective sidekick just seemed like comic relief. So it wound up being kind of a surprise - though a pleasant one - that these wound up being mere details that would eventually fade into the background. Negative Happy Chain Saw Edge has monsters and action scenes, yes, but it's not about them; it's about how Yosuke and Eri cope with loss, and the feelings of being powerless and lonely that accompany it.

Many action/adventure films can lay claim to that sort of theme, but few handle it so well. Director Takuji Kitamura and screenwriter Hirotoshi Kobayashi (adapting Tatsuhiko Takimoto's popular novel) stop well short of saying "this means that", or derailing the plot for tearful confessions of how Eri and Yosuke really feel. They make good use of narration and flashbacks, as well as using the scenes with Yosuke's roommate Watanabe (Yosuke Asari) to demonstrate what a solitary experience mourning is, even when you're not alone in it. They also do a much better than usual job at having things two ways; even as the fantastic elements become more linked to the characters' emotional states, the movie doesn't become about how they're linked.

All this would fall apart if we didn't buy into Eri and Yosuke, and we do, for the most part. Megumi Seki might be a little too rigid in her performance, especially toward the beginning, but I liked the way she portrayed Eri's caution in letting anyone get close to her. Ichihara's acting is similarly not flawless, although that helps somewhat when the pair are together: Neither one is outdoing the other, and there winds up being something more natural and believable about them as a result; they've lost too much to be innocent, but there's a fitting sort of inexperience to them. The supporting cast is pretty good, too - Yosuke Asari is just right as Watanabe, and the flashbacks of Haruma Miura as Noto are nice in how they demonstrate him as sort of a self-destructive jerk, but still somewhat magnetic for all that.

And, yes, the action is pretty good. Visual effects are overseen by some of the crew that handled the Death Note movies, and the visuals of the chainsaw man's arrival are often striking, as is the CGI work does a nice job of making the battles larger than life, and Seki's got some experience with this from Arch Angels and the like. Admittedly, the action scenes do have an odd feel since they tend to take place in underpopulated areas - even for all taking place at night, it seems like someone other than Eri, Yosuke, and the chainsaw man should be there.

The action is good enough to satisfy the people who came for it, and by the time the movie is over, the fact that it's not just about the action and the fantasy isn't a problem at all.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17619&reviewer=371
originally posted: 08/04/08 20:19:16
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2008 Fantasia Film Festiva For more in the 2008 Fantasia Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/03/09 Lama Milkweed L. Augustine author of the chain saw man trilogy 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  N/A (NR)
  DVD: 30-Mar-2010

UK
  N/A

Australia
  N/A


Directed by
  Takuji Kitamura

Written by
  Hirotoshi Kobayashi

Cast
  Hayato Ichihara
  Megumi Seki
  Yosuke Asari



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