Ginji the Slasher (2003)
By: Michael Helms on July 4, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Siren Visual (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). Japanese DD 2.0 English Subtitles. 121 minutes
The Movie
Director: Takeshi Miyasaka
Starring: Isao Natsuyagi, Riki Takeuchi, Renji Ishibashi
Country: Japan
AKA: Hitokiri Ginji
After the opening credits play out and imagery of soldiers and aircraft from World War II pass over a Japanese flag, Ginji the Slasher jumps straight into the event that earns the title character his notoriety and nickname. We're taken inside a former Military Aircraft factory circa 1953 where a massacre is in progress. One man played by Riki Takeuchi (Dead or Alive) deftly weilds a samurai sword sending many of his victims reeling in a torrent of gushing arterial spray. The event quickly ends when one man emerges from the shadows to call to Ginji while another cloaked figure steps forward and promptly shoots Ginji.

Fast forward fifty years and we see an aged man identified as Ginji in a prison cell. Pulling a fragment of a blade from his sock he's about to cut his own throat when he's suddenly and unceremoniosly released from prison. Sent to a strict halfway house he's given a room and two meals a day along with a three month tenancy before he must vacate and move entirely into the outside world. Obviously unstable and obsessed in thought with the past, Ginji doesn't last long in his new abode and after wandering aimlessly for some time takes refuge down by the river besides a ramshackle packing crate village inhabited by alcoholics and derelicts. Ginji stakes his own space on a wooden pallet. A Korean man attempts to befriend Ginji but he remains morose at the best until one day a gang turn up demanding money from the Korean and give him a violent beating. From out of nowhere Ginji retaliates and sends the standover men on their way. It's not long though before the gangsters return for Ginji who has been identified. They ask him to come and meet with their boss. While Ginji complies he soon returns to his low life surroundings. His peace is shortlived though as it soon becomes apparent that there is a bounty on Ginji's head when a mass of quick buck artists turn up and decimate the hovels forcing Ginji to go on the run. He is assisted by a female journalist who has been spying on him. Inside an abandoned warehouse Ginji's past and present unravels messily and violently as his connection to a former Japanese Prime Minister with many deep dark secrets, is slowly and painfully revealed.

Not an overt horror film but a compelling psycho-drama told in a fragmented flashback that uses personal violence as it's currency and pays out often as it crawls around inside the warped mind of Ginji, a man who has been deeply scarred by war, betrayal and half a dozen other losses that have left his sense of humanity in tatters. Isao Natsuyagi is excellent as the latter day Ginji perfectly conveying the sense of personal conflict needed but it also doesn't hurt having Riki Takeuchi, one of the most charismatic actors alive (think early model Chow Yun Fat) as his younger alter ego.
From the blood dripping down the corrugated walls of the darkened green factory in the opening massacre to Ginji's grey instutionalised world and into the sometimes bright but shadow filled pockets of modern Japan Ginji the Slasher uses darkness to great effect as it's primary colour. Reproduction is excellent transitioning from outdoor scenes to interiors with little pain except when Ginji feels it.
A minimal music soundtrack allows you to step into Ginji's shoes by convincingly creating a soundscape for a man who has basically only listened to himself for 50 years. Dialogue becomes a sound effect as the message conveyed often becomes as disarming as the way it's delivered
Extra Features
Trailers for Ichi the Killer, Visitor Q, Fudoh, Tetsuo Iron Man, Tetsuo II Body Hammer, MPD Psycho, and Dead or Alive.
The Verdict
Favourably comparable to John Woo's masterpiece A Bullet in the Head, Ginji the Slasher is highly rewarding viewing for all nihilistic sensibilities.
Movie Score
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