One of the risks attached to our rule that movies screened at the Den of Sin should be something we haven’t seen (at least one of us, often both) is that sometimes movies suck. This is particularly true of yours truly’s truly awful Chinatown finds, alluded to in previous columns. Although I do love a lot of Asian cinema, the truth is that the majority of it is just too silly for me to get behind, much like any mainstream film industry really. But so many people hail anything Asian as the second coming it’s hard to tell what’s really good, and what’s just “different”. As a result I tend to be extremely cautious regarding anything culty and Asian, since while bloodletting is well and good, I personally need a little more to really enjoy a movie. So it was with some trepidation that I approached my Fiance’s latest programing choices: the Japanese exercise in female sadism “2LDK” and the Korean revenge epic “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance”. Needless to say, by the end of the night I decided I need to trust my Fiancé a little more.
In my last column I alluded to the fact that because of the start of the new school year, attendance at the D.o.S. had dropped considerably and as a result we were contemplating a change of days. Well, after much begging from my sister and our Ice Cube lovin’ friend Graeme we decided to move movie night up a day to see what happens. Sadly, most of our friends either can’t keep the viewing nights straight or really do all have term papers to write and attendance was still shockingly low with only five people. This was a real shame because “2LDK” was hella fun.
After the usual preamble and Owen calling my Fiancé an “awful person” for bringing up that classic ‘80’s TV show “Small Wonder”, we decided to start things off with a little girl on girl action. On screen that is. For those not already familiar with it, “2LDK” was the result of a challenge between director Yukihiko Tsutsumi and Ryuhei Kitamura of Versus fame. The challenge: each director would make a film detailing a duel to the death using only one set and two actors, shot entirely in one week. Tsutsumi’s tale deals with two actresses sharing an apartment in Tokyo (2LDK is the Japanese abbreviation for “2 bedroom, living room, dining room & kitchen”) whose petty disagreements about everything from shampoo to boys quickly escalates to bludgeoning and electrocution.
The first thing we noticed were the bitchy, bitchy voice-overs that let us know how the two girls really felt about each other. Graeme quickly noted that “this can only end well”. There were jokes about the Japanese snack foods consumed by the winner of the “Milky Skin Contest”, and big laughs for the introduction of “Zima” as a celebratory drink. About 15 minutes in my sister showed up, avoiding a term paper. Graeme noted that this would be a great movie to show someone who was having roommate troubles to which my sister related her first spat with her new roommate. I giggled because she’d only been moved out for three days.
There was some confusion for the perfume in the fridge (must be a Japanese thing) and some disturbed looks for the introduction of horror imagery, in this case a woman with a baby in a bathtub full of blood. Owen commented that old Japanese women do the creepiest voice overs. Graeme was more concerned with how weird things had gotten a mere half hour in. “How long is this? Ninety minutes?” he asked. “This has a lot more weird turns to take”.
At about forty minutes in my Fiancé noticed the swords, although twenty minutes of them bitch-slapping each other also would have been amusing. Graeme restated his affirmation that “this can only end well” and there were multiple exclamations of “Dude!”, “Whoa!” and “The kid gloves are off!” Owen noted that we were only an hour into the movie and we kept waiting for the film to turn into Audition. I enjoyed the reference to Female Convict Scorpion ‘92, but that’s because I’m a big nerd, although the reference does put the film into a larger context. Although it contains some of the most cringe worthy moments we’ve ever seen, the film is extremely funny and could be read as a satire the exploitation sub genre of female torture movies still popular in Japan. Especially considering the makers admitted that the film was meant to appeal to women.
Possible alternate endings were bandied about, including the one where they do become a comedy do (“There was this time I was spraying Drano into your eyes…”) and the montage of the “good times” to accompany the typically cloying J-pop song that played over the end credits. All in all, “2LDK” was considered a raging success even though Karen slept through most of it. There was a short break wherein my sister, Owen, and Karen left; leaving just Graeme, my Fiancé and myself to enjoy “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance”.
The evening continues in part two of ENTER THE DEN OF SIN: VENGEANCE IS A BITCH>>>