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Dead End Run Japan 2003 59 min.

, - BSPLayer, LightAlloy

Director: Sogo Ishii

Cast: Tadanobu Asano, Masatoshi Nagase, Yusuke Iseya, Urara Awata, Jun Kunimura, Robert Harris, Mikako Ichikawa, Youji Tanaka, Ken Mitsuishi

avant-garde, experimental crime thriller, romantic urban drama

Three short films all linked by fast paced chase scenes. The first film follows Yusuke Iseya as he is chased down an alley by a yakuza hitman. The second follows Masatoshi Nagase as he battles himself and a killer. Lastly, we find Tadanobu Asano being chased up to a rooftop by three cops who find out that they are in the middle of a suicidal hostage situation.

If you could combine the experimental, yet mature, styles of Shinya Tsukamoto and Seijun Suzuki, you would undoubtedly gain a feel and understanding of the experimental style of director Sogo Ishii. High in visual and musical content, DEAD END RUN is very reminiscent in style of Ishiis previous film, ELECTRIC DRAGON: 80,000 V. The film is less than an hour in length and is composed of three stories that all catapult the viewer into the end of the story rather than the beginning. The three short films are as follows: Last Song, Shadows, and Fly. All of which bare appropriate titles to their respected stories by summing up the content included. The titles are the only clues that we are given because we are not given the luxury of a background story, character development, names, or even much dialogue in each of the three shorts. But do we really need it? A good filmmaker can convince viewers that you dont need these things, so long as you have the ability to tell a story without words. Sogo Ishii experiments with this and gives an all-around valiant effort, which in the end is successful in many ways. Ishii utilizes music, editing and photography to steer the film in the correct direction. Usually films are mainly carried by the acting and dialogue, which are practically non-existent in each of the three shorts. For example in Last Song, which stars actor/director Yusuke Iseya (Kakuto), we do not hear a spoken word for nearly ten minutes, which is one sixth of the films running time. The hyper kinetic photography helps relay the unspoken dialogue into a story by accurately depicting the chaotic and uncertain emotions that arise in the characters of each short. This worked really well. The music of the film plays a very important and effective role. The soundtrack consists of everything from rock to jazz and beyond which helps the viewer understand how they are supposed to feel. The photography depicts how the characters feel, but throughout the film the music is what helps guide us through the story with more understanding. Not only was the music great, but it was also a very useful tool for Ishii. In the opening short, Last Song, we find Yuskuke Iseyas character running through the streets, desperately trying to escape someone. He finally stops to rest in an alley were he meets a young woman. From there it became an eerie romance, which is somewhat surreal and poetic in that non-linear way. Thankfully the introductory shorts more than enough to grab viewers attention. Sogo Ishii loyally cast Masatoshi Nagase and Tadanobu Asano in his next two shorts. Masatoshi Nagases character never spoke a word in Shadows, just like in Last Dance we find the main character running away from someone, looking back often in fear that his pursuer is gaining on him. The chase also ends in an alley where Nagases character has his final showdown with a man who changes his guise to become a mirror image of Nagase. Shadows seemed to primarily deal with the main characters battle with his inner demons. Tadanobu Asano was the star of Fly which was definitely the best short of the three. In Fly once again we are thrown into a chase scene were the main, male character (Asano) is being tailed. The difference here is that we see that his pursuers are three cops, one of which is missing a pistol that Asano stole. The chase ends on the roof of a building were they find a girl contemplating suicide. It is here were most of the dialogue is spoken. Up until this point Ishii had made the previous two shorts dark, but Fly seemed to be an exception. It had a light-hearted feel and seemed to stand out from the three overall. If you see it for yourself you would understand that what you gain from DEAD END RUN is obtained in a similar fashion of that which you would get from a painting. For example, there really is no sense in finding and analyzing the symbolism in the film since all you have to work with are basically excerpts of each story. Your best bet is to interpret the film however you wish. There really cant be a right or wrong way of doing so, there is only your way. Its like one big experimental wet dream. This film comes with a great recommendation for the technical aspects alone, especially if you enjoy witnessing new uses for certain shots (steadicam, etc.) as well as different and unusual editing methods. DEAD END RUN is definitely a must see for Sogo Ishii fans.


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