Saturday, June 25, 2005

9 Souls

This 2002 Japanese film is the third feature film showcased in the inaugural Singapore Fantastic Film Festival (The first two being Kontroll and Immortel, which I should be able to watch by the end of the fest).

9 Souls is at times a complex movie, and at times one which has a simple tale to tell. It blurs and crosses the line so often, it makes it difficult to try and classify its genre - part gore, part comedy, part social commentary.

The title refers to 9 prisoners, who are introduced in more detail during their escape from prison (in a very creative introduction by the way), ranging from murderers to a porn king, from a juvenile delinquent to a vertically challenged escape artist. It turns into part comedy once they escape, and have to find the means and substinence to help keep themselves alive in a strange new world.

Prior to their escape, their world is their prison cell, rudely interrupted by a tenth crazed prisoner, a counterfeit king who leaks out the secret to the whereabouts of his stash. With this bit of information, they embark on a quest to recover this lost promise of treasure before going their separate ways.

Which forms the second half of the movie. Throughout the first half, we are exposed to the dreams and hopes of these escape convicts. Being locked up for some time, they each have a secret desire to either reunite with their loved one, or have plans to live a better life. At some point, you will ponder if it was wise of them to each seek their dream, knowing its dire consequences, or would rather choose to stick together in their new found family.

Thoughts on second chances in life also crosses your mind, if these serious crime offenders deserve another break in life, or are forever condemned in the eyes of society for their one moment of folly which has kept them locked up.

The pacing of the film is at times choppy, and you'd have scenes that come out of the blue (like cross-dressing as a disguise). I heard quite a number of people around me give the "hmm... where did that come from" comment.

The soundtrack is kept simple, to a constantly played guitar tune, which in scenes of peace are kept soft, and in scenes of angst, being played to a crescendo. I find this effective in conveying emotions in the film, without the need of a bloated soundtrack.

Rated R21 here for its subject content and scenes of gore which is not really shown on screen, this film is recommended for those who seek a different film offering, which is what this film fest is striving to achieve.

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