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Synopsis The story is set in 1950 Japan in a a smalltown village called Onikobe (Devil's Skull) where a private detective Kindaichi is hired by Inspector Isokawa to help a solve a 20 year old murder case. Kindaichi and Isokawa reunites after 2 years at the Kamenoyu Inn located at Onikobe. The murder that took place in Onikobe involves the death of a Mr Genjiro (murdered husband of Mrs Rika)and a swindler Ikuo Onda. Presumably Genjiro confronted Onda about his wreath swindling scheme 20 years ago where Onda clubbed Genjiro over the head after which his head landed in a nearby fireplace leaving his face unrecognizable.
PI Kindaichi and Inspector Isokawa investigation yields several difficulties in a smalltown village where a power struggle exists between two families (the Yura- and Nire-family). Upon their investigation even more murders ensue...
Review: The Devils Ballad is a masterfully made whodunnit mystery film done by Kon Ichikawa. As far as Mystery films go, this is way ahead of its time. The amount of facts and names that one must process within the first 30 minutes of the film can be a bit overwhelming so attention to detail is a definite prerequisite to enjoy The Devils Ballad. The Horror element found mainly when the murders take place or when they show the corpses surprised me very much. Theses scenes are brief but graphic,visceral and very effective...they stand well even to today's standards. The amount of comedic relief is even less brief than the graphic scenes but also effective such as PI Kindaichi's dandruff problem and Inspector Tachibana's incompetence.
The Soundtrack is a bit all over the place. It features some upbeat fusion sounds that are borderline cheesy at times. The classical folk sounds and Orchestral work makes up for that. I especially loved the sweeping Orchestral piece towards the end.
Overall the film is beautifully shot; the acting is flawless; the story and characters are intriguing...underrated gem. My only criticism is that the film drags on a little bit just before the end. Nonetheless its a great film for those into classic Mystery films. I'll definitely be checking out more of Kon Ichikawa's work.
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