Katayama is the very image of ordinariness, a blank-faced salaryman commuting home to his dear wife and little daughter after a regular day at work. Coming across a gang of teenage hooligans beating a lone man to the edge of death, Katayama intervenes forcefully –- and successfully. But the system treats him as the villain in the matter, and that’s only the beginning of Katayama’s painful lesson that crime does not pay, but standing in its way may cost you dearly.
Sun Scarred once again unites the talents of maverick Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike and actor Sho Aikawa, as does Zebraman, also at Fantasia this year. And like Zebraman, Sun Scarred pays homage to a particular piece of pop-culture iconography of a generation ago, except it’s not the lovable sci-fi superheroes of Japanese television, but rather the grim family-man revenge thriller -- Death Wish, Straw Dogs, Rolling Thunder -- but with a distinctive modern Japanese twist. It’s scathing criticism of that country’s legal system that offers more protection to youthful offenders than to the victims of their crimes, if not outright reversing the roles –- a topic frequently in the headlines in Canada as well –- and also an unflinching examination of how the seeds of psychopathic cruelty take root in a young person.
One of the world’s most restless talents, Takashi Miike has charted an unpredictable course with his career, taking on projects from a simply staggering range of genres and budgets. Even now that he has supposedly “made it,” with major studios offering up big budgets to make big films, Miike still makes a point of returning to his low-budget, shot-on-video roots whenever he can. Helping him in this case is Sho Aikawa, a true icon who has charted a remarkably similar course to Miike, appearing in literally hundreds of straight-to-video titles before being offered increasing numbers of more “respectable” roles in recent days. Whatever their roots, these two are among Japan’s most unique and compelling talents, and any chance to see them in action together should not be passed up.
Director: Takashi Miike
Screenplay: Toshimichi Ohkawa
Cast: Sho Aikawa
Producers: Kozo Tadokoro, Yasuko Natsuyama
Distributor: Cinema Paradise