Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Guard From The Underground (1992)

The Guard from the Underground (2002)

November 12th, 7:00PM in Garland 104 (2441 E. Hartford)

Ever since the 1997 film The Cure, Kiyoshi Kurosawa has been recognized as one of Japans premiere directors. This recognition has grown to place him as one of the worlds prominent art house film makers. But his early career mirrored the path of many other Japanese directors in that it began in V-Cinema.

Beginning in the 1980's the Toei Studio began producing direct to video films, usually Yakuza (gangster) and other genre productions. These films were given reduced budgets compared to major theatrical productions, but the production values are far from paltry. Other major directors to begin in V-Cinema include Takashi Miike with Dead or Alive (1999) and Takashi Shimizu with Ju-On (2000). These films do not garner the same automatic prejudice as direct to video productions in the US.

By genre, Guard From the Underground is a 1980's style slasher film, but by inclination it is a satire of Japanese business culture of the late 80's. Akiko Narushima (Makiko Kuno) begins work as a fine art expert for a major corporations new art division. Her position there seems ad hoc at best. While exploring the office building she also meets a series of stereotypical corporate personal as well as an enigmatic boss. But the danger comes from a former Guard who might just be that sumo wrestler everyone was talking about who was banned from the sport because of excessive violence.

Japan, Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Cast Makiko Kuno, Yutaka Matsushige, Hatsunori Hasegawa, Ren Osugi and Taro Suwa, 96 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles.

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