Action / Adventure, All Reviews, Horror, International Films, Japan

Another Heaven

This is a unique genre: a Japanese horror film presented as an Action Potboiler. Literally – the opening scene has a bunch of detectives investigating a murder in which the brain has been removed. But wait…what’s that delicious smell coming from the victim’s kitchen? Yep…Brain Stew, boiling in a pot on the stove. The sight of 30 detectives all running screaming from the upper-level apartment and throwing up over the rail made me sit up and take notice: this was not going to be the usual “Ringu” copycat experience.

And, for better or for worse, it wasn’t. “Another Heaven” follows the story of two detectives: one young and studly, and the other older and grizzled. Just like in Hollywood! Also like in Hollywood, the younger detective has an theory about the murders (as more occur) that the older detective, naturally, won’t accept.

So what’s the plot? Well, it’s more like a string of developments; as more murders occur, the police begin to suspect a copycat killer. Of course, this wouldn’t be a true J-horror flick unless there was at least the hint of the Supernatural involved, now would it?

“Another Heaven” is different, but that may be off-putting. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in spots, and its 2 hour and 12 minute running time is a bit long for this type of film. It tries hard to breathe fresh life into the genre by throwing in other genres, but a low (after the first twenty minutes or so) body count and lack of any real action happening tend to drag it down. This all cooks down to make “Another Heaven” interesting, but not essential.

Pros: Miwako Ichikawa is one of the most talented and interesting (and oddly beautiful) women to come out of Japanese film in recent years. I hope we see more of her. Injection of humor into an action-horror flick is a nice change…
Cons: …but only when it’s intentional humor. And some of the funnier moments in “Another Heaven” weren’t meant to be funny.
Review Rating: 3 out of 5 times you check a women’s purse for something, you didn’t check it well enough.

Another Heaven” (2000)
Also known as: “Anazahevun”
132 Minutes; Japan
Rated R for violence and some sexuality.

Starring:
Yosuke Eguchi (Manabu Hayase)
Miwako Ichikawa (Asako)
Takashi Kashiwabara (Atsushi Kimura)
Yukiko Okamoto (Chizuru Kashiwagi)
Haruhiko Katô (Yuuji Makuta)
Naomasa Musaka (Sakamoto-keibu)
Directed by: Jôji Iida
Viewing Format: DVD

(Originally published on HorrorWatch)

About John Daily

John is a freelance writer, columnist and critic. His work has appeared in print, as well as on sites such as ScifiWatch and HorrorWatch (where he wrote under the complete meaningless moniker “Bloody Taco”). An archive of his film-related material is available at cinemaspin.wordpress.com. Currently, he can be found spouting his special brand of sarcastic nonsense at CigarHell.com or Twitter (JohnNDaily).

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