Today’s selection: Alive (2002, dir. Ryuhei Kitamura)
Subgenre: Kaijin, Esper
Available from: Media Blasters
Alive was Kitamura’s follow-up after breaking into the spotlight with Versus in 2002. It follows Versus in that it’s also stylish, with thumping techno score, muted colors, and Matrix-inspired action. Hideo Sakaki and Tak Sakaguchi reverse roles for Alive, in that Sakaki plays the hero this time around (as much as there can be a hero in a Ryuhei Kitamura picture) with Sakaguchi as a monster, and eight other Versus alumni round out the cast. The movie is based on a manga by Tsutomu Takahashi (who also wrote Sky High, which Kitamura adapted later), about a death-row prisoner being experimented on by a shifty government agency. He’s locked in a cell with other test subjects, eventually exposed to an alien parasite, and gains super powers. A lot of folks whine that it’s too slow to get to the action, but I think it’s one of Kitamura’s better movies, all things told.