Home > Film, Reviews > DVD/Blu-ray Review: Cold Fish 2-Disc Set

DVD/Blu-ray Review: Cold Fish 2-Disc Set

Director Sion Sano has surpassed his previous achievements with a film that even he will find hard to better.

Directed by the controversial filmmaker Sion Sono (Love Exposure), and reportedly based on a real life serial killer from the 1980s, Cold Fish is a film that breaks away from the normality of human existence and explores the depths of psychosis.  On the outside it appears to be a gory J-Horror flick bordering on black  comedy; on a deeper level it can be seen as a cinematic representation of the darker, tormented side of the human mind, which, in itself, is rather a disturbing thought considering Sono once claimed in an interview that Cold Fish is probably his most personal work so far.

(Courtesy of Third Window Films)

Shamoto (Mitsuru Kukikoshi) is a meek and shy man who runs a small tropical fish shop and lives with his daughter Mitsuko (Hikari Kajiwara) and his second wife Taeko (Megumi Kagurazaka).  Mitsuko is rebellious and somewhat of a brat who is disrespectful of her father and detests her step mother.  She is caught one day shoplifting and Shamoto and his wife are called in and accused of being bad parents by the store’s manager.  During this embarrassing situation, they meet a friendly man by the name of Murata, also a tropical fish trader who runs a business called the Amazon Gold Tropical Fish Center.  Murata reassures the manager of the family’s good disposition.  Satisfied, he lets them go.

(Courtesy of Third Window Films)

Shamoto and his family warm to Murata and Mitsuko especially forms a bond with him, preferring him to her own father, and even agrees to live and work at the fish center alongside the other young female workers.  Taeko is also taken with the wealthy gentleman and persuades Shamoto to go into partnership with him.  It soon becomes apparent that that beneath Murata’s friendly exterior lurks a man of a sinister nature.

Murata is a serial killer and soon traps Shamoto into being his accomplice.  With his wife and daughter’s life at risk, Shamoto gets dragged deeper and deeper into a world of madness…

(Courtesy of Third Window Films)

Cold Fish is a remarkable film of sex, violence, religion with a sprinkle of humour.  The two strong leads played by Fukikoshi and Denden make convincing character that are at opposite ends characteristically.  The film also features two former gravure idols, Megumi Kagurazaka and Asuka Kurosawa, Kurosawa being particularly convincing in the role of Murata’s disturbed wife Aiko,   For the first half of the film, Kurosawa appears to be little more than a supporting player, but as the plot progresses her character develops into a more substantial personality and is given some meaty scenes (if you pardon the expression).  In a sense, Kurosawa’s character is the only one the viewer actually begins to feel any real compassion towards.  Busty J-Idol Kagurazaka puts in a fine  performance too, although, she seems to have little to do at times.  But perhaps this is the whole point: her life, along with that of her husband’s and step daughter’s, has become a day-to-day battle for excitement.

(Courtesy of Third Window Films)

There are of course many grotesque scenes in this film, most noticeably those incorporating the sight of chopped up body parts, and serve almost as “How To” lessons in dismembering a human body.  Humour is brought into play during some of these stomach-churning scenes, such as the one where Murata and his wife are discussing a victims “weenie”, and another where Murata holds up a decapitated head to an already convulsing Shamoto.  Perhaps when Murata stated earlier in the film that “business is entertainment”, he was referring to more than just the running of his fish center, for the act of cutting up his victims obviously amuses him.

(Courtesy of Third Window Films)

To understand the tormented minds of the characters, the viewer has to listen to what they say, rather than what they do.  To the sane among us, from the very start, Murata comes across as overly nice and just a little creepy.  But to the Shamoto family, his child-like behaviour and charismatic playfulness relieves them from their hum-drum day-to-day lives.  However, their desperation for a release from the dullness of life comes with a hefty price.

The suitable film title amply describes all the main characters and not just Murata; each one traumatised by their past.  In fact, Murata is probably the most  expressive of the bunch, and the happiest – at least outwardly.

(Courtesy of Third Window Films)

The music score composed by Tomohide Harada seemed to eco in the background, never overpowering the scenes.  The only time that the music did become apparent was during certain intense scenes – Taiko drums pounding away in harmony with Shamoto’s beating heart; the sound of a Hawaiian guitar would  often balance it out and soften the mood. The script, written by Sano and Yoshiki Takahashi is tight and flows at a good pace; engaging the viewer in every scene.

Cold Fish is a brilliant film; not only does it delve into areas of lunacy, but it also probes the mind of an adult struggling with manhood and sexual frustration.  For this reason Shamoto can be liken to David Sumner, the character Dustin Hoffman played in the equally disturbing Straw Dogs – weak and feeble and pushed to the edge.

Sano has surpassed his previous achievements with a film that even he will find hard to better.  Undoubtedly, Cold Fish will remain a film that will be talked about for many years to come.  A must see!

(Courtesy of Third Window Films)

Technical Details:

  • Anamorphic Widescreen transfer with removable English subtitles
  • Blu-Ray with 5.1 DTS HD Sound / DVD with 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound

Special features:

  • Exclusive interview with author Jake Adelstein, reporter on the original ‘Saitama Dog-Lovers Serial Murders’ case, the inspiration behind the film
  • Two exclusive interviews with scriptwriter Yoshiki Takahashi on the creation of both the film and original artwork
  • Trailer / Trailers of other Third Window Films releases

Released by Third Window Films

Released date:  27 June 2011

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Categories: Film, Reviews
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