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Chaos (JAPAN 1999)

Director : Hideo Nakata
Writer : Hisashi Saito
Cast : Masato Hagiwara, Miki Nakatani, Ken Mitsuishi, Jun Kunimara

Mr Komiyama is a successful CEO. He takes his wife Saori out for a meal at an expensive restaurant and when he goes to pay the bill his wife has disappeared. Komiyama doesn’t have time to look for her as he has to rush to an important meeting. Later that day he receives
a phone call telling him that his wife has been kidnapped…

by Martin Cleary

I like films like this. This is one of those films that you start watching and then you realise that you’ve actually come in part way through the story. Chaos shifts backwards and forwards between what is happening now and what has already happened – like a jigsaw puzzle. If you enjoy psychological thrillers, then this is a worthwhile one. Directed by Hideo Nakata – the man behind the first two Ring films – the film has a strong, consistent tension running throughout. There’s no major ‘shock’ scenes, instead the narrative sustains a steady pace.

At first the film resembles a simple kidnapping story, but as each of the three central characters’ intentions are made clear it makes a sharp turn into other directions. The twists are fairly decent and make coherent sense by the end of the film – there’s no fancy twists to unfairly cheat the viewer. It’s only for the final few minutes of the film that the tension sadly seems to break. Everything becomes clear about five minutes too early, leaving the final scenes to ‘wrap everything up’. This is a bit of a shame. The main reasons for this being that the main interest here is the plot. There’s not necessarily one character that you’ll be rooting for as Nakata plays with our sympathies throughout. By the time the plot has fully unravelled, you may not care what actually happens to the central figures. It’s the journey getting there that’s fun.

There’s very good performances all round – if Hideo Nakata’s direction guarantee’s one thing then it’s getting a good performance from his actors. Miki Nakatani (Ringu) is as good as ever, as well as strong turns from Masato Hagiwara and Ken Mituishi. The camera pauses over faces and there’s often moments of silence as if to emphasise the doubt over what people are actually thinking. It’s a clever piece of filmmaking – albeit a slowly paced one. It’s a refreshing change for Nakata away from the horror genre – this is more like an exercise in Hitchcock territory. I enjoyed this a lot, although I think it’s a ‘one view’ film – I won’t sit through this again. Unlike some films where you re-watch them after you’ve seen the twists, this film IS the twists – there’s probably not much there for a second or third viewing. Still, this is a worthwhile effort – not surprisingly Hollywood’s remaking it (is there anything that’s not a remake at the moment?) Chaos is worth a look as it’s a very well made, and well acted piece – albeit one with a limited viewing experience.

Plot : 3/5
Acting : 4/5
Entertainment : 4/5
Overall : 4/5

Buy this movie at YesAsia – Chaos

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