Set in freezing Japanese winter, Koroshi (=killing/film noir in Japanese) is a quite typically Japanese movie, first and foremost inspired by Melville and to a lesser extent by fellow countryman Takeshi Kitano.
The main character is a normal Japanese worker who is now unemployed - a fact he hides from his wife by spending his day at a gambling hall and making "salary payments" to himself. One day he is contacted by a mystery man who offers him a job as a contract killer. The job is easy, just shoot at the neck, never look in the eyes. And then: run. The man accepts this and soon finds new meaning and joy in life...
The movie is absurd, and a thoroughly original take on the morale in Japanese society. The images are beautiful, and the people are as cold as the snow that surrounds them. The take on Melville's "Samoraï" from -67 is obvious, but Kobayashi turns the image around and portrays the killer as the weakest person in the movie - haunted by his demanding wife and the moaning contractor, who is one of the most mysterious characters ever portrayed in a movie.
Perhaps the sound is the most masterful feature of this film. The humming of the wind power stations and the creaking sound of snow under boots leaves you chilled and muted. I left 'Koroshi' freezing, but I can't wait to get back in.
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