Alive Ryuhei Kitamura

Like Versus, the Kitamura directed flick that preceded this outing, Alive is a mash-up of many different styles, although Kitamura doesn't succeed in meshing them as flawlessly as before. The sci-fi/fantasy mysticism and yakuza vs. zombie battles of Versus made for a bloody violent epic that was maybe a little too long but odd enough to keep anyone intrigued. Alive, sometimes considered a sequel to Versus because the antagonist and protagonist of Versus (Hideo Sakaki and Tak Sakaguchi) both reappear here, is a different kind of Frankenstein monster. Borrowing heavily from movies like Aliens, Cube and Akira, Kitamura's influences are worn more readily on his sleeve for his re-imagining of Tsutomu Takahashi's sci-fi Manga. Unfortunately, Kitamura doesn't mesh the genres as adeptly, creating a patchwork movie that also tends towards being a little lengthy. When condemned prisoner Tenshu Yashiro (Sakaki) survives the movie's opening execution sequence, he is offered the option to undergo execution again or to remain alive as part of an experiment. Our anti-hero, originally condemned for killing the men who raped his girlfriend, chooses the latter and finds himself confined in a large, drab, concrete bunker with another inmate – a psychotic serial rapist! It's not until a third of the way into the movie that the intentions of the jailers are revealed, and it's a doozy: a group of scientists are trying to transfer the "isomer"-induced superpowers of one individual into a more blood-thirsty one; and of course the military wants a piece of the action for this potential weapon. From there, it all spirals out of control. Alive has some great action sequences (although not as vibrantly violent as the swordfights of Versus) and Kitamura is definitely a master of style, but the movie really drags in parts. With Alive, Kitamura never quite lives up to the hype of Versus, but he does create a stylishly slick sci-fi flick. (Media Blasters/SMA)
(Mr. Bongo)