This film had me on the edge and that's a good thing. I personally think `Imprint' plays out like a dozen Takashi Miike movies rolled into one. On the visual side, this is possibly his most polished film to date, and is one of the better looking Masters of Horror episodes. More art than splatter, the style of Imprint has more in common with Miike's segment in Three... Extremes, with gorgeous cinematography, lighting and framing that most of the Masters of Horror episodes were sadly lacking.
This episode tells the haunting tale from the 1800s of American journalist, Christopher (Billy Drago), who travels to an island in Japan in search of the prostitute, Komomo (Michie) who he had abandoned years earlier, promising to return for her. Finding himself unable to locate Komomo, he takes residence in a bordello, where he hires the services of a deformed hooker (Youki Kudoh), but instead of taking her for carnal pleasures, he asks her to tell him a story, and so, she recounts to him the fate of his beloved Komomo, and so begins a story of rape, torture and degradation...
Again it's beautifully shot, Imprint at times is like watching a painting come to life. The flame haired whores with their blackened teeth take on the appearance of oni or evil spirits, who live on islands and take much delight in the torture of others. Miike's ability to take the obtusely sickening and turn it into an image of beauty is a gift that few directors have. What irk me about this film is Drago. He gives an amateurish over-the-top performance that drew a few laughs from me, as he thinks he's in a Greek tragedy and stands out in all the wrong ways with his acting (though he look good for the part in his long hair). The rest of the actors were fine in fact most of the actors are great helps a lot as well since they bring a lot of credibility to the story, because believe me, without strong actors, this story could have been ridiculous.
I'm positive that very few people could have directed this movie as well as Miike did and I'm sure that most horror fans will just love this episode. It really is a shame that it never made it to the TV-screens as it is my favorites Masters Of Horror episode from Season 1.