Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sky High

First, let me just inform you that this is not a review for the 2005 Disney Family Film, rather it is for the 2003 Japanese Thriller directed by Ryuhei Kitamura.

Foreign Film from Japan
Language - Japanese
(You may watch it Dubbed in English or with English Subtitles)
Genre - Fantasy/Mystery/Thriller
Year Released - 2003
Running Time - 132 minutes
Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura (who also directed Godzilla: Final Wars, Versus, as well as this year's The Midnight Meat Train)
Written by Tsutomu Takahashi (who wrote the Comic Book that the movie is based upon) and Isao Kiriyama (who also wrote Godzilla: Final Wars, Azumi, and Battlefield Baseball)
Cast Includes:
Yumiko Shaku (Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla)
Shosuke Tanihara (Godzilla: Final Wars and Godzilla vs Megaguirus)
Takao Osawa

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
A serial killer and his henchwoman - looking to create a supernatural cataclysm for evil ends - literally rip the heart out of Mina, who's engaged to Kanzaki... the detective investigating the bizarre string of homicides. But the gumshoe gets more than he bargained for when he hunts down Mina's murderers and finds his dead fiance trapped in a ghostly state of limbo.

I absolutely loved The Midnight Meat Train [Best Horror Movie of the Year, in my opinion!] So, being that I have only seen Kitamura's Godzilla: Final Wars and Versus, I decided to remedy that situation, by starting with Sky High.

Right from the opening sequence, Kitamura shows why he is my favorite Japanese Director (yes, in my opinion, he is superior to Takashi Miike)
I am not ruining anything when I tell you that when Mina is walking down the aisle, at her wedding, and you see the bright red blood against the stark white of her wedding gown, your attention is immediately focused on what is happening (it will all be explained, in the movie, so don't worry)

We then follow Mina's soul to the Gate of Resentment, where she encounters the Guardian of the Gate. The Guardian explains that those who come to this Gate either died by misadventure or were murdered. Mina is then given 3 Choices:
1) Accept her death and ascend into Paradise
2) Become a ghost and forever haunt the realm of the living
3) Curse one living person and cause their death - however, Hell awaits one who would take the life of another - a murder's destiny is eternal torment
Mina has 12 days in which to choose her path. In the meantime, she is able to linger on Earth as a spirit.

This movie is quite spiritual in nature, which made me think of a conversation that I was having with a fellow Blogger, just the other day. He had just seen the Christian-themed horror movie House (based on the novel written by Ted Dekker & Frank Peretti) We were discussing the fact that good Christian movies just can't seem to be made, and we were wondering why this is.
There are such great Christian Fiction stories that could be made, if only the right people could come together!
I am a firm believer in the Great Controversy between God & Satan and the battle over our souls! I fully believe in Spiritual Warfare between Angels & Demons. . . The reason that I am telling you this is that I would love to see a book like Peretti's This Present Darkness or its sequel Piercing the Darkness or just an original idea of the war that is raging all around us be made into a movie that I could watch on the Big Screen, and I think that Ryuhei Kitamura is just the director to bring us something along these lines!

Whoops, I apologize for the slight detour :-) Now, where was I?
This movie is filled with the awesome shots that Kitamura is known for. There are fight scenes, that take place in a forest, that were reminiscent of scenes right out of Versus! There are also some spectacular sword-fights - I love the fact that every time a blade crashed against another, sparks would fly - so stylish! :-)

Something else to note - to me, the term "henchwoman" conjures up an image of someone who is ugly - not the case with Genetics Billionaire Tatsuya Kudo's henchwoman - she is quite pretty and superb with a sword!

Here's the Japanese Trailer:

I definitely recommend this movie, as what it really boils down to is an Ultimate Love Story - How far would you go, for someone you love?



Rev. Phantom said...

Kitamura gets so much shit for his movies--but I love his style of directing...which is odd, because I don't really like hyper-active looking films, but he pulls it off in a very cool way. I've actually not seen this one, but I have been meaning to. Great review!

sadeian said...

This is weird--I saw this movie a few years ago and loved it enough that I bought it. I then lost it in the mountain of DVDs here at the house. I found it Friday..and now you write about it today. Bizarre.

thebonebreaker said...


I was not aware Kitamura has been given a hard time about his directing style - I too LOVE it!!

I also have Aragami, Azumi, and Alive in my Netflix Queue to watch eventually. . .


thebonebreaker said...


Too funny! :-)

I too plan on buying this film, as it is definitely worth owning!


Andrew Simon said...

Great review!

I have yet to see VERSUS, but SKY HIGH is Kitamura's best directing gig I've seen, and that's hardly a compliment. I personally don't dig the guy's "directing". When I saw FINAL WARS, I could deal because it was a GODZILLA flick; however, AZUMI is just plain bad, and I really, really wanted to love it (still have yet to see Shusuke Kaneko's AZUMI 2: DEATH OR LOVE).

The best thing about SKY HIGH is Yumiko Shaku, who proves she isn't just a swimsuit model and can actually act. I do confess, though, I loved the shot with Shaku in her wedding dress from behind as it goes over her, looks down, and then comes down on the other side while she's bleeding. Cool cinematography there.

thebonebreaker said...

Thanks Andrew!

I haven't seen Azumi yet, though I bet that you will like Versus! :-)

You are absolutely correct regarding Shaku and the wedding shot. . .

Let me know when you see Versus!


1minutefilmreview said...

Cool blog!

thebonebreaker said...

Thanks Man! :-)