Top positive review
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A dark stylish film about love, loss, death and discovery.
on 15 March 2006
Vital is a dark twisted and ultimately touching story from Shinya Tsukamota (Tetsuo, A Snake of June). Upon first hearing about this movie and its plot I was expecting it to be yet another Asian horror flick so I wasn’t really anticipating its release. Then I discovered that it was directed by Tsukamota so naturally I tried to find a copy as soon as possible. After finally watching the movie I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was more drama than horror.
Takagi (Tadanobu Asano – Last Life in the Universe, Ichi the Killer) is a med student who awakens in hospital with amnesia after being involved in a car accident. Although Takagi can’t remember the details of his life he still retains the skills and knowledge of medicine. With this seeming to be the only link to his past he decides to enrol at the local med school to try and continue his life. As he goes through school with no real connection to the world around him he has very little progress in recalling his lost memories. However, when partaking in a group dissection he soon realises that the cadaver in front of him is that of his dead girlfriend who was killed in the same car crash he was in. As Takagi begins to probe deeper into the corpse he starts to unlock memories from his past and rapidly becomes obsessed with it...
If you’re a fan of Shinya Tsukamota then you might be shocked to find that this movie doesn’t involve any strange metallic devices attached to people’s bodies and that the film shoot in a full array of different colours. This is still a Shinya Tsukamota film though and he still sticks to the similar topics that are present in his other work. Like his other films Tsukamota’s main plot revolves around the study of the human body to try to find a deeper meaning to life (this film actually involves exploring inside the human body). Considering this you would expect this movie to be filled with all kinds of gruesome images of the corpse yet Tsukamota restrains himself and only uses these images when absolutely necessary. Again, as in his previous work, all the images Tsukamota puts on screen have a meaning and are used as the main driving force behind the story. For example in the real world the environment is dull and lifeless yet for the memories of Takagi’s past the setting is bright and vivid. This helps reinforce the fact that in the real world Takagi is an empty emotionless shell with no sense of belonging or purpose yet in the flashbacks he is more at ease and emotionally active. This leads me to the cast who all put on outstanding performances but it’s Tadanobu Asano who is the most impressive as always.
The disc has great picture and sound quality as usual for Tartan’s recent releases. It also got loads of extras such as behind the scenes, making the props, director interviews, commentary (although not by the director which is slightly disappointing) and a music video.
This is certainly one of the more interesting and unique movies that Tartan Asian Extreme have released in the past few months. If you’re a fan of Tsukamota and enjoyed his other film ‘A Snake of June’ then I’m sure you’ll love this movie, if not or you’ve never heard of him then give this a try, you might be pleasantly surprised. Overall Vital is a dark stylish film about love, loss, death and discovery. From the bewildering images at the beginning to the awe inspiringly touching ending this for me is Asian cinema at its best.