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The third film I got to watch at the philly film fest was this outstanding
drama from Japan. After breaking out of prison nine escaped convicts plan to
find the "key to the universe" that a tenth convict who didn't break out
told them about. Along the way we get to know each of these men fairly well.
Each has their own dreams. For much of the movie it seems to be mostly a
comedy, but a shift takes place that the film ends up a tragedy. All of the
actors give great performances. I can't say much more without spoiling the
film, but suffice it to say that you end up feeling for some of these
individuals. At 2 hours, this film is a tad to long, but good none the less.
I have no qualms recommending it with the warning that it does have a bit
unsettling violence for the tender-hearted. Toshiaki Toyoda hit a home-run
this time out, and it makes me want to search out his prior films as well as
look forward eagerly to his future ones.
My Grade: A
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What I got was something better.
Just like many movies I've commented on as of recently, I'd been looking forward to this one for a while. Especially after I saw one of Toshiaki Toyoda's other films, "Blue Spring" which is easily in my top 20 favorite films. I loved the trailer for "9 Souls", and I thought it sounded very good. I didn't hear anything bad about it. Now I know why.
This movie starts up as sort of a comedy, then during the last half of the film, it quickly becomes something else. It becomes more dramatic as each of the characters face their own tragedies. Each character gets just enough screen time, and you care about what happens to each of them. Even though there are 9 characters we have to learn, and care about, within just two hours, Toshiaki Toyoda pulls it off brilliantly.
After I saw "Blue Spring" I was hoping the soundtrack would be at least a little bit as good, as it was in that film. I got my wish, because the soundtrack to "9 Souls" was also incredible. The music used in each scene, more specifically the more dramatic ones, is just simply wonderful. I loved every second of it.
I wasn't sure whether or not I wanted to see another Toshiaki Toyoda film, "Pornostar", but after I saw this, I'm going to. Definitely. Also, because I read the plot for it, and I think it sounds really good. I'm looking forward to it. On the R1 DVD of "9 Souls", there are two interviews with Toyoda. He says he's completed another film, and he wants to start writing the screenplay for his next. I can't wait for both.
I highly recommend this film. You must see it. Now.
Finally! Third time lucky. This film has been always been on my mind,
but my first viewing I forgot about it and only caught the second half
of the film. Then only a couple months later I had the my second chance
of watching of it, so I decided I would record it. Only to discover
that my timer went off late and again I missed the first half of the
flick. I wasn't going to allow that to happen again. So, when it came
on TV again, I thought bugger it I'll wait until it comes on, then I
will record it. And it was a good choice. I would have just watched the
film, but they always put on weeknights around midnight.
After discovering a hole in their crowded cell, nine prisoners escape their confinement to track down the key of the universe, which a fellow prisoner known as the Counterfeit King said he had hidden. They think that this key could be an opening for a hidden loot of counterfeit bills. On this journey they naturally see this as an opportunity to pick up their lives before they were gaoled. Although things don't turn out the way that they intended to, with most of the criminals plans going astray.
"9 Souls" is an perky spiritual journey from Japanese director Toshiaki Toyada, which flung it's viewers into a film of two totally different halves. The first half of the story plays out more like a psychical comedy with the criminals bonds and the situations they find themselves being the selling point, but all that makes way to a moralistic and consequence drama-packed second half, where the real trouble begins with some quite nasty and bloody moments replacing the goofball tone it started off with. While, the first half is quite amusing with its on the road, screwball doodling and offbeat banter. But it's really the genuinely haunting latter half with it's peculiar turn of events that hit you so hard with some surprising touches that make you really sympathise for these very human characters. Even though they are not truly innocent from their crimes, you just become entrenched by these flesh-out characters in the first half that when you see them spiral into their downfall, you know it's an effective drama when you become shell-shocked in the dramatic change. The nine characters get enough screen time to truly understand their personal story and what weakness would eventually bring them down. The way the plot works out is that Michiru and Torakichi are the lead characters and we mostly see it from their perspectives. The escapism tale is an unquestionably engaging character study that's clear in it's goal and puts to you many questions on society and the path you choice to take to escape life and free yourself from these restraints.
While, the symbolic story is full of clarity and vividly told. The visual element doesn't go by unnoticed, because there's just a dreamy and trance-like vibe that channels itself into the unique atmosphere. What HIGHLY contributed to that factor and gave the film a lift was the sweepingly, moody instrumental rock soundtrack. The mellow atmospheric gel it was able to create in many scenes left me rather breathless with the everlasting emotions it was able to provoke. Simply beautiful and downright powerful control on that front. The pacing for such an long film ( 2 hours ) seems to breeze by and editing is swiftly done, because we are just so wrapped up in it all. The hypnotic photography is crisp in detail. While, the performances by the cast as a odd bunch of criminals are that of high quality with each one providing enough personality and features to separate themselves.
I found "9 Souls" to be a pleasing and quite an amazing surreal film that stirs up the emotions and then it smacks you with an almighty wallop when it changes direction. Highly recommended.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
To be totally honest I wasn't expecting much at all going into 9 Souls
even after reading heap upon heap of praise plied upon it but to say I
was surprised would be a major understatement, in short I was totally
The basic plot is as simple as they come, nine prison inmates ranging from a drug pusher all the way up to multiple murderer's escape from prison and go in search of a secret stash presumed to be forged money hidden by a tenth inmate who cracked and was dragged away by guards shortly before their escape but it's the direction that director Toshiaki Toyoda takes this simple story that is so brilliant and original perfectly blending drama, comedy and violence creating a truly one of kind movie that deserve's to be seen not only fans of Asian cinema but cinema in general.
Superbly acted, emotional, funny, violent and at times very surreal this is a movie has it all.
Highly recommended to all those who appreciate watching movies. Great acting, perfectly surreal awkward humor, requisite prison sh-t, accurate depiction of the male condition. Music is also spot-on. I think the artist is "Dip" but not sure. The short loop of the title credit song on the DVD menu is well-timed, and sounds like Slint. (one thing to know is that IMDb maintains a ridiculous policy of a MINIMUM comment length based on, not CHARACTERS, not WORDS, but rather LINES. Measuring post quality and quantity based on LINES in the bold era of UNICODE and flexible, web-based typography, is like smoking poles.) ! Your comment does not contain enough lines - the minimum length for comments is 10 lines of text. Please see the guidelines. Attempts to pad the comment with junk words can result in your account being blocked from future submissions.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When a bomber, a patricide, a pornographer, and a mad biker, together
with various other forms of social scum, have had enough of their sh**
infested cell, they spot a rat and look for the hole. Escaping from the
sewage the group of 9 souls, take advantage of their new found freedom
and head for civilization. What soon follows is not surprising.
Complete mayhem and terror follow in their wake. It seems that each has
some unfinished business to take care of.
Loosely based on The Great Escape, 9 SOULS is by far in the top 5 best films I've seen this year. Running at right around 2 hours 9 SOULS will deliver a story so powerful it'll literally leave you breathless. The beautiful, yet subtle, use of the rolling country sides adds the realism that is expected from this story. The vision of director Toshiaki Toyoda (Blue Spring, Porno Star), is completely mind boggling as he implements a sense of pity towards the characters. As quickly as each character grasps their dream, it's as quick as it's torn from them. Now, all responsibility of the success of this film should not fall solely on the shoulders of the director, yet props must go to the actors as well. This film was full of excellent acting from top to bottom. Ryuhei Matsuda (the son of Miyuki Matsuda of Audition) delivers a stellar performance, and seems to bring some of his mothers eeriness to the screen.
I must give props to Artsmagic DVD as well. This is the 6th film of theirs I've seen now, and they seem to get better and better each DVD. The sound quality is perfect and the picture; clean and crisp. It's very annoying trying to watch a film that is too dark in transfer, so the discs from theses cats are nice.
Bottom line is this film will soon receive masterpiece status by viewers' world wide. Keep an eye out in 2005 for 9 SOULS; it's really amazing film to watch.
'9 Souls' is a title that fits the movie's psychological slant very
well. The plot revolves around a group of prison fugitives so the
narrative touches upon the flight itself but there is more of device to
explore the inner realities of the characters and how these relate to
the world at large. This explains the moments of surreal oddity that
interrupt the linear flow of events at pivotal points.
This aspect of introspective lyricism is steeped in several social contexts, some of which are typically Japanese like the yakuza orphan or the hikikomori. So that the movie never loses a sense of structure even as it progresses further into character study territory. And tragedy is at the heart of each of these criminals. True to its calling this movie is gritty, violent and has no qualms in disturbing the viewer. There is more to freedom than simply escaping from behind bars and reconnecting with life on the outside is fraught with difficulties that some simply cannot handle. A sense of dark fatalism seems to motivate these prisoners and their fanciful fantasies are but a result of this.
Its one great flaw is that the cast is somewhat bloated. Nine complex characters are bundled together and it is not easy to give them all the required screen time to flesh out properly so a few fall by the wayside. The same goes with the relationships between these but here the pair of a father who killed his son and of the young man who killed his father emerge naturally as counterparts of sorts. They form an uneasy bond that results in a somewhat perplexing ending.
'9 Souls' does not settle for illusions of regeneration but it does not deny a desire for betterment. Torn between this two extremes and enlivened by a great cast it is a movie that is off beat and intense. Well worth watching.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A great film. Every moment masterfully conducted by Toyoda and his
crew. The actors give credible performances all around.The visuals are
haunting,beautiful and sometimes hauntingly beautiful shots of the
Japanese country and city landscapes.The sounds,courtesy of Japanese
band 'Dig', are never overly edgy as one would expect from band-made
soundtracks. It's strangely atmospheric and well suited to the scenes
All in all, they worked everything out perfectly....Well, if they were to give any justice to the story, perfection is the only thing anyone could have accepted.
The real greatness of 9 Souls is the compelling story. The prison break movie maybe something of a lost genre these days, and road trip movie losing it's appeal due to the way the world is getting smaller. But this story easily mixes something fresh to those two genres.
9 convicts are given freedom and possibly the opportunity to regain their places in society. will society accept them? will they be truly free of their dark pasts? and can they stick together long enough to stay alive and find out?
Each convict has an interesting history. Their crimes are as varied as their apparent fates. A sense of brotherhood among them keeps the story high on drama and supplies it with hilariously comedic situations. And due to the nature of their backgrounds, violence is always something waiting to happen.
After all that, all i can say is go give it a watch.
9 Souls (2003)
Toshiaki Toyoda is slowly becoming one of my favourite directors, what a piece of art. After breaking out of prison nine escaped convicts plan to find a "hidden treasure" that a tenth convict who didn't break out told them about and ultimately to seek acception and redemption in a society they don't belong.
"You can escape from prison, but you can't escape from the world you've fallen in." - Toyota Toshiaki
This film is only 120 minutes long but we get to know the 9 men well and by the end of the film we realize how we cared about each one of them. I LOVED the mood of this film. It starts as a comedy but then it gets a very dramatic tone as we face the tragedies of each of one of the characters (some of the scenes are very violent). Soundtrack is awesome, the performances are great and it was beautiful shot like what I've seen before from this director.
I watched "9 souls" in Athens' 12th International Film Festival
(September 2006), where Toshiaki Toyoda, the films's director was also
present and answered many questions of the audience. This road film is
about 9 fugitives, all very different characters from each other. They
decide to stay together travelling with their red van across Japan.
Every time the van stops, we see these 9 fugitives trying to escape
from their past in order to build up a new life or to fulfil a dream.
However, no matter how hard they try, it seems impossible and their
violent past comes after them and leads them to their final
Though a very pessimistic film, it is not a dark film. On the contrary, it is full of beautiful pictures, surreal elements and elegant humor. Toyoda's heroes cannot escape their "prison" and they face a divine(?) punishment for their "crimes". They are small pieces of a beautiful painting, where the tower of Tokyo depicted as a huge knife turned upside down prevails!
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