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Vengeance Is Mine

Ken Ogata , Rentarô Mikuni , Shôhei Imamura    Unrated   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Product Description

Like all great Shohei Imamura protagonists, Vengeance Is Mine's Iwao Enokizu (Ken Ogata) lurks on the margins of Japanese society. A thief, murderer, and charming lady-killer, Iwao is on a killing spree and running from the police. Imamura turns this fact-based story, of a remorseless mass murderer from a devoutly Catholic family, into a cold, perverse, and, at times, diabolically funny tale of the primitive coexisting with the modern. More than just a true-crime case, Vengeance Is Mine bares mankind's snarling id.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars On many complexities of the human soul... Feb. 22 2002
Format:VHS Tape
In the beginning of Vengeance, there is a key scene of the film's main character. He is unrinating, in order to wash his hands off the blood of his victim. He then notices he's under a tree, wipes his hands with his jacket and picks an apple. He takes a bite and spits.
However, the point -we understand as the story unfolds engrossingly to contain many other characters in similarly true moments- is in fact to lay bare the human soul.
Immamura achieves very successfuly this main objective, through his immense storytelling powers: the over the top performances he pulls from his superb cast and his brilliant melding of the many subplots.(The editing here, in my opinion, is one the best works ever done in a movie.)
In a little over two hours, Vengeance speaks volumes about the many complexities of the human soul and offers many opportunities to confront its dark side. Thus, it is not an easy movie to watch. Yet it offers many insights to the Japanese culture, and is a great point to start knowing the Japanese cinema as well. Highly recommended.
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2.0 out of 5 stars What's the fuss about this movie? Aug. 18 2008
Format:DVD
A distinguished critic called this the greatest Japanese film of the last 30 years. I don't see why. Unless you've got money to burn I recommend you not buy it unless you've seen it already and know you want it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars gripping from start to finish Sept. 10 2000
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
In this highly ambiguous tale of moral uncertainty--both in terms of the killer himself and all those around him (his father, his wife, his lover and her mother), Imamura is at the top of his game. I saw this film at a film festival in Berkeley the first time and it haunted me for a long long time. The commentary on the back cover of the VHS says it best "Imamura's refusal to either despise or forgive his protagonist makes the movie a devestating experience."
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5.0 out of 5 stars REVEALING LOOK AT A COLD BLOODED MURDERER April 21 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Imamura constucts a telling portrait of an impassive sociopath. The pacing is purposefully slow and minimal, giving the killer character ample room to reveal himself while both doing the simplest things and, especially, when interacting with those around him. This film is the higher brained cousin of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.
I think its important to note that the killer in Vengeance is Mine, is by no means a serial killer. I've heard him described as that, and its a misinformed judgement. A serial killers pathology revolves around sex. In this film, the killer murders out of a distance, a coldness for human life. He kills for money, shelter, for survival, having little care (although he does try) for anyones life but his own.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Savage. May 27 2007
By Kgar - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Again, Shohei Imamura's total control of his craft shows itself in his brutal masterpiece Vengeance Is Mine. This true story follows Iwao Enokizu (Ken Ogata), a con artist, thief and killer. The film starts with Enokizu's capture and uses unusual, but brilliantly effective editing and pacing to unravel the story of his life. We see Enokizu as a troubled boy in a strict Catholic home and turn into a scam artist and womanizer. As an adult Enokizu's resentment towards his religous father is compounded by rumors of an affair with the father and Enokizu's wife. As his hatered grows stronger and his crimes become more serious, we see first hand Enokizu's downward spiral into murder and the devastating consequences for those around him.

The disturbing nature of this film doesn't lie in it's gore factor (there are very few actual murder scenes), but rather with the non-judgemental view taken of the killer. Imamura neither glorifies nor condems Enokizu. He simply lets the character exist, and lets his inherent nihilism reveal itself. This nihilism is something that both Enokizu and the audience must grapple with throughout the film. Ultimately, Enokizu can only kill innocent people, being too much of a coward to face those he truly hates. This is fully realized in two emotionally gutwrenching scenes at the end of the film; one with Enokizu's lover and another with his father.

The family drama, the cat-and-mouse game between Enokizu and the cops, and some interesting third-act revalations make this two hour plus film quite an undertaking. Don't watch it while making dinner. But with the great acting (Ken Ogata especially), outstanding editing, interesting shooting locations and masterful direction, Imamura takes this messy story and turns it into an artistic, esoteric thriller. A sort of japanese Taxi Driver. The ending is pure Imamura; a poetic farewell to Enokizu that is both eerily enigmatic and profoundly meaningful.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Portrait of an unrepentant killer Dec 4 2007
By Zack Davisson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
We like killers. Not your run-of-the-mill murderer thugs or violence-prone thieves who kill for profit, but the inverted psyche of serial killers is a fascinating subject. They hold the fascination of a predator species, like the great white shark or the alligator, dangerous and somehow cool. We don't want to meet them, and hope to god that they never walk though our door, but from the safety of a screen it is a thrill to flirt with their danger and ride along with them for a little while down a truly dark path. Especially in the hands of a master director like Shohei Imamura.

"Vengeance is Mine" ("Fukushu suruwa wareniari") is Imamura's take on Japanese serial killer and fraudster Akira Nishiguchi who went on a 78-day killing spree in 1964, claiming the lives of five people before being captured. Re-named to Iwao Enokizu in the film, he is a cold and reptilian character, able to lie and murder without any apparent shadow of a conscious, only taking the actions that advance his needs at any given moment. A rare Catholic in Japan, Iwao is an outsider, but not a loner, and he keeps companions for as long as he needs them.

Considering the source material, Imamura maintains an almost documentary-like feel throughout the film, as emotionless and reptilian as the killer himself. This is not the "serial killer as hero" motif of "Natural Born Killers", or even an attempt to explain and empathize as in "Monster". The camera takes no opinions, offers no point of view other than "These things happen", "This is life, and these things happen". The beast that is Iwao seems to take neither pleasure nor pain, just sensation, from his activities. He plays his game without passion, and that makes it all the more chilling.

The Criterion Collection DVD maintains the usual high standards expected, with two interviews with Imamura, and an essay by critic Michael Atkinson. The picture and sound are all of the best quality, and the film is pure 5-star Imamura.
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars On many complexities of the human soul... Feb. 22 2002
By "eserhan" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
In the beginning of Vengeance, there is a key scene of the film's main character. He is unrinating, in order to wash his hands off the blood of his victim. He then notices he's under a tree, wipes his hands with his jacket and picks an apple. He takes a bite and spits.
However, the point -we understand as the story unfolds engrossingly to contain many other characters in similarly true moments- is in fact to lay bare the human soul.
Immamura achieves very successfuly this main objective, through his immense storytelling powers: the over the top performances he pulls from his superb cast and his brilliant melding of the many subplots.(The editing here, in my opinion, is one the best works ever done in a movie.)
In a little over two hours, Vengeance speaks volumes about the many complexities of the human soul and offers many opportunities to confront its dark side. Thus, it is not an easy movie to watch. Yet it offers many insights to the Japanese culture, and is a great point to start knowing the Japanese cinema as well. Highly recommended.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good, savage lil Japanese thriller Jan. 28 2009
By Michael Andrews - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Shohei Imamura's Vengeance is Mine is savage, coldblooded, intense, and one of the best foreign films ive seen in a while. It tells the true story of Iwao Enokizu, played by Ken Ogata. The film begins with his capture by the police and then traces the events of his life. Enokizu, you see, is a vicious serial killer and thief. The Devil incarnate. The film deals with complex issues concerning the nature of fate, evil, psychosis and immorality. As you watch this film youre torn between feeling absolute repulsion toward Enokizu and yet some kind of sympathy, and that was what i liked about the nature of this film. No easy answers at all. Great film, but be prepared.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars gripping from start to finish Sept. 9 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
In this highly ambiguous tale of moral uncertainty--both in terms of the killer himself and all those around him (his father, his wife, his lover and her mother), Imamura is at the top of his game. I saw this film at a film festival in Berkeley the first time and it haunted me for a long long time. The commentary on the back cover of the VHS says it best "Imamura's refusal to either despise or forgive his protagonist makes the movie a devestating experience."
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