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on 14 May 2017
Arrived a few days "late" but everything else was as advertised.
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VINE VOICEon 21 January 2010
I'm a big fan of Asian cinema - whether it be horror, anime, historical drama, or Bollywood's cheesiest offerings. Survive Style 5 is very hard to categorise though - about the only obvious genre in which to include it is black comedy - and even then I feel as though this doesn't really fully address the surreal or offbeat quality it possesses.

In terms of plot, the film interweaves five separate storylines of a husband who can't get rid of his wife, a businessman who is hypnotised into believing he is a bird, burglars on a job forming an attachment to one another, an irritating ad exec seeing life as one long advert, and a hit man who asks his prey to justify their existence before deciding whether to despatch them. (The latter being Vinnie Jones, who deserves a (dis)honourable mention for his particularly hammy performance).

Visually, the film is impressive, with the same colour saturation and attention to detail seen in offerings like `Dumplings' - I particularly liked the Austin-Powers-meets-Disney-cartoon bedroom of one of the characters. But the storyline and script tread a fine line between wacky, and just downright juvenile, and though the film never quite reaches slapstick mentality, I think it will probably only appeal a youngish male audience, (where I could easily see it achieving cult status).

Overall - an unusual and watchable film - but one that never really becomes very compelling or noteworthy.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 January 2010
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
We are introduced to the film without any credits. A voiceover quite solemnly informs that killing is not easy. Killing your wife is not easy. The film's soundtrack uses music which often sounded a little like M's 'Pop Muzik.' Songs and music help with the jazz style of the narrative structure.

Visually the film is a colourful feast. Beautiful pacing of the narrative, keeping the dialogue to a poignant minimum and never allowing the viewer the temptation to expect the next scene. Except once. All add up to brilliant directing.

The last film I watched was at the cinema. I reviewed the film and gave it four stars even though the directing was pathetic. Nowhere Boy has a story being well acted that just about overcame the director trying too hard. Survive Style 5+ does allude to the Kill Bill films, even that haunting miniature waterfall clinking sound, so memorable in the Japanese garden killing scene, is distantly echoed late in Survive. Or maybe I'm haunted too. But this is original filmmaking. Made with entertaining always in mind.

The humour in the film teeters between grim and ticklish. Don't let story outlines such as articulated on the back of the dvd of this film put you off. The 5:1 soundtrack demands a decent stereo system at least. It is proper widescreen, no black bars, and in totality adds up to a real treat to watch.
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on 2 June 2006
This is one of the few times reviews and straplines have not lied when they say "You will never have seen anything like this". This film is truly original. I admit that maybe the fact there are five interlinking stories is similar to Magnolia, The Player and Pulp Fiction, but the content of these stories is so insane you would only ever encounter them in an arthouse short film. This film however has far more budget and talent than that.

You can enjoy this film purely for visual reasons. Each shot is beautifully sculpted and the sets are amazing. Asano's house is probably the visual highlight, at times sophisticated and at times garish, but never less than eyecatching.

The acting talent on display is also top level. Asano of course keeps up his standards of excellence, Sonny Chiba plays a nice humorous cameo and Vinny Jones at least looks the part.

I must admit it took me almost half of the 2 hour running time to actually get into the style and humour of this film. Despite its audacious visual flair the jokes are actually quite subtle, not slapstick. There are some amazingly funny lines which almost escape you like the schoolgirl's conversation about being pecked by a crow. Most hilarious is definitely the advertising exec laughing as she imagines the campaigns she has in her head, these are...well...unconventional. It's truly a case of us laughing at her and not with.

The first time director (name escapes me and is not on Amazon) does an excellent job pulling this together. Supposedly his background is in TV ads which is very visible from the style of this film, a lot of cuts, extreme visuals etc. It will be interesting to see what he does next.

This is definitely a film worth watching, maybe not for all but even if you dont like it, you wont forget it.
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VINE VOICEon 28 January 2010
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A woman who won't stay dead, a man who believes he is a bird, three aimless youths who are attracted to each other, a pop-philosophy hit-man played by Vinnie Jones ... it can only be a Japanese film.

A film which weaves seemingly disparate story lines together is not new in the world of cinema and has fallen out of favour in recent years, although according to the IMDb this film was made in 2004, and if you strip away the craziness you wouldn't be left with much. The film was good and interesting for the first hour but after that it just wears thin and starts to drag - much has been made of the surreal style and it's wackiness ('never seen anything like it' style quotes), but, if you watch a lot of Japanese cinema this is how most Japanese films are described - some are good but quite a few just seem to be insane for the sake of it.

Overall this film was enjoyable up to a point and then became tiresome and tedious.
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VINE VOICEon 2 February 2010
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I could watch this film over and over again...

...and I still wouldn't have an idea what it is all about, but in spite of that it is thoroughly enjoyable.

The most common comparision, also made on back of the case, is with Pulp Fiction and I think it is fair to assume the director has seen a few Tarantino films, but it also reminded me a bit of early David Fincher and Robert Rodriguez films where the director is not afraid to be unsubtle. Some directors aim to be invisible, so that you get wrapped up in the story, characters or atmosphere and don't notice the direction, but this is a film where you find yourself admiring the camera tricks.

The structure is one with a number of different strands that keep intersecting in different ways. This means that there are lots of little cliffhanger moments as the story jumps to one of the other strands. As it approached the end I was half-expecting all the strands to come together and make sense and I was half right: they did come together but it didn't make a lot more sense.

The look of the film is fantastic, with much of it on sets that make a pre-school children's programme look dowdy. Even the dull salaryman lives in a house with an orange exterior and has things like unicycles laying around in the kids' bedrooms.

On top of that the film sounds good too, with a soundtrack Tarantino himself would be proud of.

Best of all is the humour which comes in all forms. There is subtle humour, broad humour, visual humour and quirky humour. The scenes in the assassins' office deserve repeat viewing to catch all the little touches. Everything in it is labelled. The chair has "please sit here" stencilled on it (in English), the safe has "safe" written on it, in fact I haven't seen a set with so many labels on everything since the original TV show of Batman when the Batcave had similar labels.

Not much in the way of extras, although the 'making of' feature is mildly diverting.

The director seems to have not made another film since this came out in 2004, which is a shame because it is an audacious film which looks good and provides some genuine laughs.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 23 September 2012
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Well I can confidently say that you've never seen a film like this before! And how often do we get to say that these days?!

Nobody does weird quite like the Japanese. There's the violently bizarre films of Takeshi Miike (e.g. the infamous Ichi the Killer, the surreal tripped-out MPD Psycho) to the whacked-out, bad taste comedy of Getting Any? which was rumoured to be 'Beat' Takeshi's real-life equivalent of Springtime For Hitler as the the acclaimed actor/director attempted to derail his own career. But even they bear no similarity to this.

A montage piece in the style of Magnolia &Pulp Fiction, its 5 whacked-out storylines intersect with one another in unexpected places. These stories include a man who murders his wife, only to find she has risen from the grave & does so time & time again as he continually attempts to finish the job, an ad-woman whose bizarre ideas are hilarious to her but inexplicable to everyone else (including company Director Sonny Chiba, no less), some sexually ambiguous burglars, a family man who is hypnotised into thinking he's a bird & Vinnie Jones as a typical larger-than-life Vinnie Jones hitman-type character, which comes across as doubly strange in the context of a Japanese movie. Through his translator, Vinnie asks everyone he crosses paths with "what is your function in life"? It would seem - via an unexpectedly poignant ending - that every characters' functions & desires are very different from what they thought at the start of the film.

It was directed by Gen Sekiguchi, who was previously best known for making commercials - and it shows. It's a stylish, visually striking film with snappy, to-the-point scenes which doesn't make it feel over-long at 2 hours. It's fun, bizarre & well worth seeing.
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VINE VOICEon 17 January 2010
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
That's the mantra of Vinnie Jones, the surprising cast member in this quirky Japanese comedy. He plays a hitman who has a translator with him and has a work ethic that means he always sees a job to the end even if the customer wants the hit cancelled. His story intertwines with those of a family going to a hypnotist show (with a funny scene where they sing along to English language music, apparently oblivious to the explicit lyrics), the hypnotist himself, who is a narcissistic jerk, and his lover who creates adverts with a decidedly love it or hate it kind of humour that apparently only she gets, a group of inept burglars (two of whom are entertaining homoerotic feelings) and a man whose wife is trying to kill him. The wife will not stay dead, even when Jones is hired to get rid of her.

If all this sounds disparate, it is. This is a showcase, a melange of bizarre humour that, like the ad woman's work, you will either love in all it's technicolour kitschness, black humour and absolute bathos or that you'll just not get. I don't think there's a middle ground. From my point of view, it's immense fun. It's designed to be larger than life, with broadstroke characterisations, like the Japanese equivalent of a Tim Burton film. It looks gorgeous, and it's like a giant live action episode of the Simpsons. It's difficult to say just what it's like. And that's refreshing.

Absolutely different and enjoyable.
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on 12 January 2010
Format: DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Survive Style 5+ certainly seems to have been influenced in concept and style by western films and film makers, such as Pulp Fiction/Tarantino and Tim Burton, but there's no denying it's Asian origins. It's tighter than most Asian films, with good pacing, usually my biggest criticism of Asian films, it has a very distinctive visual style and great soundtrack (reminding me a bit of Guy Richies use of music in films). Most film fans will spot western influences throughout, but the end result is very much it's own.

Of the various loosely interlocking story strands, the one where the man tries repeatedly (and unsuccessfully) to kill his wife is by far and away the one I enjoyed the most. It was funny, surprising and touching. Some of the other parts don't work quite as well, with the advertising exec story being the most strained, I found the gags to daft to be amusing and her forced giggle was simply irritating. But the real low point was Vinnie Jones - how does this man get work as an actor? Fortunately he only appears briefly and doesn't ruin the film despite a valiant attempt.

In spite of the barking mad plot, tripped out visual style and some OTT performances this is actually quite an accessible and entertaining film. Fans of Asian films will no doubt love it, but I think non-fans will enjoy it too.
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on 11 February 2016
I wish I was in the meeting when this was pitched! The fun & upbeat DVD menu / opening credits do their best to prepare, although I don’t think anything could. It’s so amazingly colourful, the music’s beat-tastic and the pace is nothing short of rapid – this is totally fresh and original. The only way I can remotely describe this is an enjoyable ‘Punk Film’ if that makes sense!?

Above the style, the characters are also memorable and unique: an outrageously hot wife that keeps getting reincarnated, a hip-thrusting tiger-obsessed hypnotist, a hitman who kills anyone who’s ‘function in life’ is unnecessary, a man that thinks he’s a bird and 3 gay burglars (‘Come baby, come come baby’ is ingrained in my brain).

Despite the crazy ideas and characters all five stories are connected and, although it’s fragmented, the narrative makes sense. It grinds to a halt in the last 20 minutes, other than the last scene, which is the only fault I have on this. The most fun I’ve had watching a film in ages. Modern Japanese cinema at it’s very best!
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