Cure (1997) Poster

(1997)

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Cure: impressionistic portrait of a serial killer
chaos-rampant29 June 2008
I think it is important to distinguish Cure from the avalanche of white-face-ghost-girl Japanese horror flicks that followed in Ringu's wake. Purely because it's a different beast and lumping it in a convenient J-horror niche is doing it a disservice. I won't go into plot specifics because it's only a skeleton for Kurosawa to hang his atmospherics. That said, I can understand the complaint many viewers seem to share ("man, it doesn't make sense") but without having any claims on solving Cure's riddle, I'm satisfied with letting wash over me, one watch at a time.

Kurosawa wisely doesn't attempt to explain his plot. He's content to lift the veil just enough for us to sneak a glimpse in before he disorients again. The plot slowly builds through little tokens that are never followed by an orchestral crescento to signal their arrival. They just happen. A small photo in a book, muffled words on a phonogram, an old video, the ramblings of an amnesiac, theories on 18th century Austrian doctors. In the course of the film, everything seems to be coming together only to remain elusive in the end. In that aspect I find Cure to be closer to Last Year at Marienbad than your average Ringu clone. It's not about making sense, it's about pushing limits within which you can. It's about soaking in the impression it makes. When muffled words come through a phonogram, they're more incoherent ramblings than a telegraphed plot solution; but they contribute just as well to the overarching feel. This elliptic mentality is abetted by Kurosawa's choice of a slow, deliberate pace and many long shots, entire scenes covered without any cuts. The gritty and rundown aspect of Tokyo is photographed like a more naturalistic version of David Fincher's work and does the job well.

It's my impression that a surrealist air hovers above and at the heart of Cure, at times reminiscent of a more languid version of Lynch. It is undoubtedly a horror movie so don't be put off by my Resnais comparison, but it's as much bleak as it is subtle and leaves enough to the mind's eye to make you carry it out with you.
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7/10
Dark and Gloomy Horror Film of Obsession
claudio_carvalho22 March 2017
The police detective Kenichi Takabe (Kôji Yakusho) is investigating bizarre murders where the victims are brutally murdered with an X carved on the neck. However, each killer is immediately arrested and confesses the murder, but cannot explain the motives to kill the victim. Takabe is working with the psychologist Makoto Sakuma (Tsuyoshi Ujiki) and they are intrigued since the all the killers had contact with a stranger immediately before the murder. Takabe is a troubled man since his mentally unstable wife Fumie (Anna Nakagawa) is a burden in his life. When a physician kills a man in a public restroom, Takabe discloses the identity of the stranger. He is the intern of the hospital Kunio Mamiya (Masato Hagiwara) that had consultation with the doctor. Mamiya is a dazed and confused man with apparent loss of memory and his behavior affects Takabe. His further investigation discovers that he has studied hypnotism and is capable to input suggestion to kill in the mind of his victims. Takabe becomes obsessed by the case affecting his personal life and indicating that he is losing his mind.

"Cure" is a dark and gloomy horror film with a story of obsession. The plot is a combination of thriller, crime and horror genres with an open conclusion. The direction and the performances are top notch and the murders are gruesome. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): 'Cura" ("Cure")
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10/10
Remarkable Craft
christian9415 January 2002
This movie has a simple premise and a simple story that is nevertheless explored in an incredibly delicate and talented way. Kiyoshi Kurosawa is an extremely talented individual and perhaps the only writer/director who is able to simultaneously scare and mentally challenge me at the same time (note that very few are capable of doing one or the other). Although the writing is very good (story and dialogue), Kurosawa's real strength is his ability to represent visually the progressive denouement of his story. He rather subtly show you and let your imagination and intellect figure it out for you than to spell out bluntly what the straightforward storyline should be. It does not, however, get to the point of chaotic untidiness or pointlessness, for he is able to guide you slowly along the way (I would then say that he is slightly easier to follow than David Lynch is, but then again who is not). He uses here a strikingly effective technique where he shows you a room from one angle and later lets you discover that room more and more as the movie advances. His camera shots are always well planned and he is thus able to draw you in the movie bit by bit-quite an eerie sensation.

The acting is generally good and believable. The camera-work is a stand out.

There are many scenes where you will be able to appreciate this superior artistic and technical quality. The music is good and tenseful, but it is sparse and what is used instead is a contrast of minimalist and grossly amplified everyday sounds that vibrate through the movie. When there is no sound, you often find yourself holding your breath. This is not used strictly as a ploy, but rather creates a mood and further pulls you in the general atmosphere of the movie. Most of all, again, the directing is top notch. The pace which is slow enough for you to have the time to both think and be afraid is not slow enough that it gets boring, although you should not expect a North American expeditious run through the film. Everything is there, but it comes to you in slow, meticulously chosen dosage. Only, at the end can you truly see the masterpiece that has been drawn stroke by stroke in front of you.

One of the reason this movie actually works is that it is designed to play with your mind and trigger fear and reaction based not only on emotion, but on reason. People are dying, but everything is calm, rational. The tone and story are pretty much realistic and, at the end of the experience, you may feel beyond your volitional control that you are actually convinced of the "strange" things in the movie. Hopefully this feeling will subside...
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8/10
wild and weird--but in a good way
planktonrules4 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is certainly one of the stranger Japanese movies I have ever seen. It's a sort of horror and crime film rolled together and will probably be of interest to lovers of both genres--provided they have a high tolerance for a very unusual and, at times, vague film. The plot involves a sick freak that has devoted years to investigating an older, forgotten form of hypnosis where you CAN make people do things against their wills and moral code. For kicks, he makes them commit horrendous murders and for a while the police are at a loss for why all these seemingly senseless murders occur. Well, about midway through the film the perpetrator is caught. From then on, it's a bizarre and at times surreal exploration of his demented world. The ending is very unusual and a tiny bit unclear, but overall the film is very good and sure to make you think.

NOTE--there is some nudity and very explicit murders. This is not a movie for kids!
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9/10
Possibly the spookiest movie I have ever seen.
inframan20 March 2003
The only time I can recall being as spooked by a film was when my parents took me to see "Hangover Square" - a gothic Jack the Ripper thriller - when I was 8 years old. I guess they couldn't find a baby-sitter. That took me about a year to get over, a low-key, all-too-realistic chiller about the banality of insanity.

"Cure" is such a perfect depiction of madness that just about every shot could be framed & hung in a gallery. You can't analyze this one, it doesn't follow a cartesian line of logic; nor does it blast you with halloweenish surprises in the style of Elm Street & its knock-offs. This has far deeper & subtler impact. I found as I relaxed into this film that images of recurring dreams & nightmares I've had since childhood arose & blended into what I was watching. Can't get much creepier than that.

That said, the images & emotions that this film evokes are on a very high level of poetic art. One of the most impressive elements of "Cure" is the director's ability to convey the magnetic manipulative appeal of Mamiya - surely one of the scariest things in real life & very difficult to convincingly convey on screen.
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Cure - a great movie, but with qualification
poikkeus29 October 2011
I saw CURE at the San Francisco Film Festival in around 1998, and like many, I found the concept and craftsmanship arresting. A number of audience members stayed around afterwards to discuss it - it's a psychologically complex tale of hypnotism and the seductions of altered consciousness. Koji Yakusho (DORA HEITA, 13 ASSSASSINS, etc.) is at his acting peak as a detective who tries to solve a series of murders that don't seem to relate to common logic.

Recently, I saw the DVD version of the film - and it's clear that the film had been cut severely. Most viewers have only seen the US DVD version, so they're not even aware of the problem. A few of the more graphic sequences were cut, important portions of the narrative set in an old sanatorium were excised, and the violent finish was excised entirely. (The US DVD concludes with the suggestion of a further killing; the theatrical Japanese version is more powerful and unambiguous.) In some cases, a later, recut version may be better than the original; however, that's not the case here.

There's scant online text relating to the differences between the two versions.

It speaks well for director Kiyoshi Kurosawa that he took a low-budget police procedural and made an innovative thriller out of it. Most of the scenes are under-edited and shot at a distance, to extract the most from the hypnotic storyline; the longer, hypnotic sequences are several minutes long, with no edits. Because the film uses medium-distance shots to give a sense of hypnotic disassociation, viewers with larger screens will gain an advantage.

I strongly recommend seeing it - but would suggest you seek out the original, uncut theatrical print if you can. The differences are striking. I'd rate the original print as 10/10; the cut/domestic DVD is maybe 7/10. This film would profit from a Criterion reissue, but that doesn't seem to be in the works.
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Reading these comments is as interesting as watching the film
BusterB3 February 2003
Warning: Spoilers
One of the joys of seeing "foreign" films is catching a glimpse into other cultures. What do other people consider funny? Ordinary? Terrifying? "Cure" puts a Japanese spin on an idea that several American directors have touched on: that evil is something that can afflict perfectly ordinary people. David Lynch's "Twin Peaks" television series explored a similar idea to Kurosawa's: ordinary people afflicted with evil, rather than evil people, as such. The difference between Lynch and Kurosawa is that Lynch saw evil as some sort of independent force, whereas Kurosawa sees evil more as an idea. "Cure" presents us with a world in which words and ideas are a kind of virus that passes from person to person, leaving destruction in its wake. A carrier who doesn't fall ill himself, but who infects others with murderous instincts. For this reason, some of the comments here surprised me. Frequent complaints about how elliptical the film is, and how the characters need to be better defined. In particular, several complaints that the film never explained who the drifter was or where he came from. Surprising, because that, to me, was the point: he was nobody special. He didn't come from anywhere special. Viewers brought up on a diet of American cinema will find "Cure" frustrating: American thrillers always explain who the killer is, why he kills, and, most importantly, why he is different from you and me. This last point is to comfort the audience, to let them know that they could never be like the killer, that they are outside the drama, watching. Kurosawa presses the opposite point: this could be you; there is nothing special about these men. You should not be convinced that you are different from them. I will admit that if you dislike slowly-paced cinema, a la Tarkovsky, or if you don't buy the hypnotism "mumbo-jumbo" on which the film is based, then you will probably find "Cure" tiresome. I enjoy Tarkovsky, and I found that it wasn't a lot of work to suspend disbelief on the point of hypnotism. Finally, this film is an intellectual thriller; it's more frightening for its implications than for what actually goes on. The point is not to scare you and then wrap it all up neatly at the end (like most American thrillers), but instead to show you a possible world and then scare you after you leave the cinema with thoughts of what might follow. Check out the interview at http://www.reel.com/reel.asp?node=features/interviews/kurosawa as well.
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7/10
An interesting and gripping film
artemis030219 November 2005
A wave of murders has recently hit Tokyo, each victim having a large 'X' cut deeply into their chests. The interesting this is, each culprit is a different person. The case goes to a detective named Takabe (played by the brilliant Koji Yakusho), and he must investigate. During his investigation, he finds Mamiya, a man who seemingly has no memory of his life. Takabe realizes there's something strange about Mamiya...

"Cure" was Kiyoshi Kurosawa's first major success. It's a complex and dark film about hypnosis, which is at times, pretty unsettling and chilling. This is a little different than Kurosawa's later works, but all his signature methods are here: the unsettling atmosphere, the suspense, the unusual complexity of the characters, and slow pacing. Still, if you liked any of this director's other movies, this is highly recommended.

My rating: 8/10.
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8/10
weird, confusing, BUT very fulfilling
jaybob27 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I was recommended to this film by a 19 year old film student,who gave it ecstatic praise & raved about the director Kyoshi Kurasawa( no relation to Akira).

I will say this when I was 19 & would see a film like this (different than most that I have seen) I would have been just as thrilled.

Today being just past 79, I was not that enthralled as he & some others were.

That being said CURE is a very well made & acted film, telling in a unique different style about some unexplained deaths,& the subsequent police investigation & an arrested young man who may be involved in these deaths. This young suspect has amnesia or does he now,he exasperates the Doctor & the detectives questioning him to the point of our wanting to do the same, & then changing our minds,

This is a modern tale set in modern Tokyo,but using an old camera style of cinematography, Most interesting.

There is also a very old building from the late 19th century, that may hold the clue to solve this tale. We do learn certain things BUT left in doubt at the conclusion.

OH yes, Mesmerism play a vital role as well.

This is a near brilliant film & should be seen,Of course, the US run consisted of no more than 4 theatres in 1997.

I do not know if it was ever on Cable or TV. It is available for rent in libraries (this is where my friend rented it from) I got mine from NETFLIX & am glad I did. It is a most thought-provoking mystery drama, It is deliberately slow paced so we can hopefully appreciated every scene. Final Warning It is confusing at times, BUT always interesting.

Rating *** (out of 4) 89 points (out of 100*) IMDb 8 ( out of 10)

* 89 points is 1 point shy of a ***1/2 rating
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7/10
Kurosawa Works His Magic
gavin694217 October 2017
A frustrated detective (Koji Yakusho) deals with the case of several gruesome murders committed by people who have no recollection of what they have done. (Co-starring Anna Nakagawa from "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah".)

A U.S. theatrical release came in 2001, in the wake of a renewed interest in Japanese horror cinema spurred on by Hideo Nakata's international cult hit "Ring". Inevitably, this prompted more than a few to dismiss "Cure" as a cash-in, despite the fact that it was made over a year earlier and that the line of influence more likely runs in the opposite direction. Regardless, this exposed Kurosawa to an American audience and he has made a number of great films that have been international hits since: "Pulse", "Creepy", "Daguerreotype", and more.

Tom Mes, the undisputed expert on Japanese cinema, says, "Cure is a horror film in the purest sense of the word; its ability to unsettle the viewer is second to none." He is not wrong.
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8/10
beautifully shot bur scary exercise as people drop dead
Excellent and provocative outing from the likeable and intelligent, Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Made after a run of smaller 'straight to video' yakuza and the like movies, this was an early break for something better and is a great success. Staring the equally likeable Koji Yakusho, who would go on to work several times with Kurosawa, who seemed attracted partly by the fact they were the same age. The film begins and continues for some time as a beautifully shot bur scary exercise as people drop dead, seemingly inexplicably and an aura of surrealist mayhem develops. There is a slowing in proceedings while the main protagonist is investigated but interest is well maintained ahead of the fine denouement.
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9/10
A modern masterpiece
LGwriter494 February 2002
The serial killer movie has by now been done to death (so to speak), so it's especially rewarding to see this assured film that takes a truly ingenious approach. Kurosawa's protagonist is a seemingly dazed young man who, in spite of his aimless demeanor, is a master hypnotist. To reveal any more of what happens would be to give a bit too much away.

The subtlety and fluidity of this film is remarkable. The main character can be charming and simultaneously irritating when he speaks. He turns his speaking partner's question back on the speaker; he answers with vague phrases that nevertheless, over the course of the film, gradually bring out the complexity of his psyche. Pitting him against a cop whose wife seems to suffer from something like the hypnotist's 'brand' of mental wanderings underlines the thematic context of the film: what we know is almost certainly only what we think we know. And what we think we know is almost certainly based on someone else's 'knowledge', derived the same as ours.

That knowledge is a collective phenomenon, a shared and critical feature of the 'hive' is not a novel concept in film. But its presentation here is bold and original. To link that idea with a person who destroys life is a master stroke; it says that what we know vanishes in a suddenly extinguished flame, or a tiny stream of water that appears, runs, and then is seen no more.

This is a film that should definitely be added to the great films of the 90s. Since it was not released in the U.S. until 2001, I vote for it being one of the great films of that year here.
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An enigmatic hypnotic and disturbing meditation on self control and the fear of losing it
Gizmoitus25 August 2002
It's not easy to give yourself over to this film, for like the unwilling victims' it portrays, it rather slowly and methodically casts its spell, whisking you farther and farther away from the comfortable rhythm and conventions of the crime thriller it appears to be on the surface.

Kyua's austere landscapes are in fitful turns picture postcard beautiful, mundane and mysterious. Much of the story unfolds in master shots, keeping you at a distance from the characters and affording the illusion of a comfortable intellectual detachment which it meticulously strips away scene by scene.

The plot is deceptively simple; a weary Japanese Homicide detective is investigating a series of grotesque murders. Each murder seems to have the same ritualistic pattern, yet in each case the culprit turns out to be an ordinary individual, dazed and unable to offer any motive for their horrific crime. Nothing seems to connect the murderers to each other, until the Detective picks up the trail of an amnesia afflicted drifter who seems unable to answer even the simplest questions about himself, yet displays a disconcerting ability to reflect any line of questioning about his own identity back upon the questioner. Time and again he returns to a question at the core of the mystery:

"Who are you?"

It seems more and more, as the drifter is passed from detective, to guard, to clinician to pyschiatrist, that this question is far more dangerous than anyone might have guessed.

Kyua is a model of subtlety and restraint. Although there's a significant amount of implied violence and several shocking scenes of murder, these aren't gratuitous. Kyua's particular genius is it's ability to transform it's urban Japanese landscapes and even the most common objects from familiar to suspect and eventually sinister: a length of piping, a flashing traffic sign, a blast furnace, the sound of ocean surf at night, a flickering lighter, a dark apartment lined with academic tomes, a puddle of spilled water, the letter X smeared on a wall, a deserted rundown building.

There are few filmmakers with the audacity and imagination to venture into the places Kyua wants to take you. Fincher, Lynch and Cronenberg come to mind as those who time and time again have shown their willingness, and perhaps compulsion to return to the unsettling territory of perception, identity, and the boundary between normalcy and psychosis. If the director's first name were only David (it's not, his name is Kiyoshi Kurosawa) we'd have the makings of a good conspiracy theory here.

The film was released in 1997 but only recently has made it's way to western shores, and US distribution by Cowboy Pictures, and has wound its way inevitably to cable networks like Sundance. It's cast includes Koji Yakusho as the detective Takabe. Fans of Japanese cinema will recognize this fine actor from his award winning roles in "Shall we Dance" and "The eel".

Kyua isn't the type of visceral immediate drama that the average suspense film provides. If you can put aside your preconceived notions and allow it to unfold in it's own time, I suspect you will find the questions it asks and secrets it reveals to be all the more disquieting, problematic and in the end profound. Many critics have lined up to call this film a masterpiece, and pegged Kurosawa as one of a number of japanese directors worth watching.
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8/10
The evil that men do lead to many questions
kluseba4 March 2011
This movie is another very good psycho thriller from Japan that convinces with a weird and intriguing story and a strange and haunting character that is closely related to brutal murders that are happening where seemingly normal people kill in the most brutal way and don't remember anything before their crimes neither the reasons that made them do them.

The special thing about this mysterious movie is that the murderers are not evil but that something inside them made them evil. Is it a demon? Is it a conspiracy? Is it the money? The main question of the movie is what made people commit the crimes and the next questions are: What is the strategy beyond those murders? Why do people kill or are forced to kill? The final question is also very interesting and leads us to a once again disturbing ending of an extreme movie: How can one stop the murders? How can one control the evil that men do? Is there a "cure"? Beyond those thoughts, one could ask: If it can't be stopped, to what kind of conclusion does that ultimately lead? All the movie long you keep on guessing and you get slowly prepared for a haunting conclusion.

In many ways, this movie reminds the works of Cronenberg and especially of David Lynch's great "Twin Peaks" series that ask the same kind of questions. While those series convince with a slow development and very charming characters, the personalities shown in this Japanese movie are not always completely convincing and the main idea is nothing really new but those two points are the only ones that I could critic negatively as the movie has a dark drowning atmosphere and is always filled with suspense and mystery and entertaining until the very last scene. I can only recommend this weird and haunting movie and any other Asian psycho thriller I have reviewed before if my review is intriguing enough for you to check this movie out and you happen to like it.
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5/10
No Cure for Confusion?
Coventry16 April 2006
I had high expectations for "Cure", partly because I'm intrigued by serial-killer stories and several people had claimed this one was even better than "Seven" and "Silence of the Lambs" (ahem!) but mostly because this movie was released shortly BEFORE the Asian horror/thriller hype forever broke loose with "Ringu". Maybe this still was an Asian thriller that is genuinely good and/or earned its cult reputation in an honest way, rather than because everyone praises it blindly? Well, the answer is yes...and no. The basic premise of "Cure" is truly compelling and Kiyoshi Kurosawa's filming style is definitely impressive, but eventually the exaggerated complexity ruins the whole lot. Just once, I'd like to see a Japanese occult-thriller that doesn't leave me scratching my head after the final denouement. Anyway, let's just focus on the first hour and the atmosphere! Fatigue copper Takabe is tormented by a mysterious series of killings in Tokyo. The culprits are always caught immediately at the scene of the crime and, even though they're seemly unrelated, they're all highly unlikely assassins and mysteriously marked their victims' bodies with a large "X". The one thing they all have in common turns out to be a brief encounter with Mr. Mamiya; an odd drifter with amnesia and a dubious past involving the study of hypnosis. "Cure" features a high tension level during the first hour (when the murders still are a giant riddle) and you also definitely sympathize with the main characters. Detective Takabe is a good man with noble ideals, the unfortunate "murderers" truly evoke feelings of compassion and Mr. Mamiya has a fascinating personality, despite his malicious (?) intentions. The acting performances are amazing and Kurosawa patiently gives his cast the opportunity to show their versatile talents. There's few explicit gore but several highly disturbing images of mutilated corpses and suicides that really aren't for the weak-hearted. The music is excellent and Kurosawa's directing is solid up until the last sequences, when he regretfully leaves too many questions unanswered and relies too much on the supernatural aspect.
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unsettling
superfly-1321 February 2002
In the wake of the sarin-gas attack mounted by the Aum Shinrikyo cult on the Tokyo subway system in 1995, horror films enjoyed a sudden spurt of popularity in Japan. Many of the films focus on hypnosis or media-induced violence, the fragile normalcy of modern life, and grisly deeds committed by seemingly ordinary citizens. This unnerving 1997 thriller, which seems like a direct response to the Aum Shinrikyo incident, offers a glimpse of how our own national cinema may absorb the blow of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. A rash of senseless murders wracks Tokyo; the victims have deep X-shaped gashes across their throats, and the killers (often their loved ones) are found in a daze. The only connection appears to be a mysterious drifter (Masato Hagiwara) who gets into random strangers' heads with a single, oft-repeated question: "Who are you?" What makes this subtle, quiet shocker so unsettling is the idea that everyone has secret resentments that render him or her hypnotically pliable--that everyone harbors some glimmer of murderous rage that can be exploited, whether by a drifter or by religious extremists. The writer-director, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, a prolific Japanese filmmaker who's developing a large cult following here, heightens the unease with buzzing soundtrack noise and eerie long takes that leave us consistently unprepared for the violence to come. And the last sequence will leave people arguing--it requires close attention, culminating in an ending even more disturbing in its implications than the conclusion of SEVEN.
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7/10
Creepy.
Pjtaylor-96-1380447 December 2020
This enigmatic, slow-burning horror focuses on a series of grisly, almost identical murders committed by people who can't remember why or how they did them. The mystery of 'Cure (1997)' shifts from uncovering the link between the killings to deciphering the true nature of a strange amnesiac who pops up near each crime scene. The movie never gives you an overt answer, remaining decidedly ambiguous even as it enters its final moments, but it's consistently compelling nevertheless. It pulls you into its beguiling world and doesn't let you go. It isn't overtly scary; its horrors creep up on you, sending shivers down your spine before you even know they're there. Its themes are fairly frightening and its cold, somewhat uncaring atmosphere doesn't afford much in the way of comfort. There are some sequences that are almost hypnotic, too. Though almost every aspect of the piece is relatively subdued, it has a rather strong overall effect. It's the sort of thing that has the potential to keep you up at night. 7/10
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A Powerful Meditation On Evil And What Happens When You Get Too Close To It
CinemaClown9 July 2020
An elusive, elliptical & enigmatic psychological horror that only gets more n more intriguing as it progresses, Cure is a serial killer film that doesn't bother itself with procedural aspects of its genre and is instead far more interested in the dissection of the human psyche. As subtle as it is unrelenting, it paints an absorbing portrait of psychology & psychosis.

Written & directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, the film equips the viewers with the info they seek yet keeps them at a distance from its characters for their own sake. It is less an investigation into the brutal killings and more an inspection of the human condition, and Kurosawa underlines the film's thematic context by digging deeper into the complexity of his characters.

Unlike most serial killer features, the film finds horror in the most basic of things, like flame of a lighter or a glass of water. Several scenes that seem harmless pack more chills than the disturbing details of the crime scenes. The performances are restrained, layered & top-notch, with Masato Hagiwara impressing the most with an evasive act that's as interesting as it is irritating.

Overall, Cure is a fascinating meditation on evil and what happens when you get too close to it, and is one of those films that linger on long after the credits have rolled. As mesmeric as it is mysterious, this Japanese chiller brims with a mystical aura & hypnotic quality that only magnifies as plot progresses. And even if it fails to leave a lasting mark, one can't deny the wicked & alluring power of its dimly lit imagery. Multiple viewings advised.
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10/10
Masterpiece
Lucabrasisleeps19 April 2015
Warning: Spoilers
In many ways this movie has one of the scariest villains in horror movie history. He is so cunning and emotionless and he has tremendous powers that he could use at will. I wouldn't call this movie scary but it really got under my skin.

Certain scenes were really effective because they come out of absolutely nowhere. The hanging scene or the scene with the nurse murdering the guy came out of nowhere. The movie moves really slow with absolutely shocking moments at frequent intervals. The mark appearing at various points was also effective. I have often mentioned that payoff is important, at least give me something! And this movie delivers that in spades. Koji Yakusho gives a stunning performance as Takabe. His frequent bursts were incredible to watch. A detective, as he explains, is not supposed to show any emotion. Takabe, at various points, is almost losing it but he manages to compose himself at the last moment. He tries to be the dutiful husband to his ill wife. He tries to do his job despite dealing with scumbags. Yet towards the end, he finds that he might be losing the battle to Mamiya.

And that's what this movie is all about. It is about the battle between Takabe and Mamiya. Despite trying his best, Mamiya manages to get into the mind of Takabe after getting a few details about his life. That's all Mamiya needs to manipulate someone. Few people are immune to his hypnosis techniques. The way in which the movie details the crimes of Mamiya is a treat to watch. It is just fascinating to watch how he manages to talk to those people and understand their issues quite easily. Most probably he knows their story even before they told him. Even the calm and composed Sakuma becomes increasingly erratic towards the end.

As in many movies of this nature, the lack of music (or minimalist music) works so well. It lends a documentary feel to the scenes. But some scenes suddenly switch to a surreal nature and that is disorienting. That's why this movie works so well. The concept itself is interesting. What is Mamiya exactly doing? Is he manipulating people to commit crimes or is he just removing the inhibitions? It is even scary to see how otherwise normal people seem to lose it. Even people like that friendly officer. The movie is incredibly atmospheric and the creepy concept and the execution elevate this movie to classic status.

The ending is disturbing as well and it gives a satisfying conclusion to his excellent horror film.

One of my favourite Japanese horror films and I rate it a 10/10.
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6/10
Great mood, but a little slow
gbill-7487714 July 2021
A wave of gruesome murders confuses the police; the perpetrators all readily admit to their crime, but can't recall why they did it. The events are undoubtedly connected though, as each victim has a giant X carved into their neck. Two detectives begin questioning a drifter who seems connected to the murders, but run the risk of falling under whatever power he wields themselves.

The premise is interesting enough and director Kiyoshi Kurosawa certainly creates a dark mood, helped considerably by the eerie soundtrack and dilapidated set designs. Maybe on another night I would have clicked with this one more, but on the night I did see it, it was too slow and ponderous for me to truly enjoy. The link to the work of Franz Mesmer seemed like it was out of a comic book, and even in just rolling with that, I wish the drifter's role had remained a mystery for longer. The tension just wasn't there for me, making me think about holes in the story and how little these characters were developed. One that I wish I would have liked more, maybe next time.
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8/10
One of the best horror films of the last 20 years.
MOscarbradley29 October 2020
This Japanese serial-killer chiller is just grisly enough to satisfy the fan-boys and smart enough to please those who like to take their brains with them when they go to the cinema. People are being murdered in Tokyo and their killers are found close to the bodies but claiming either no memory or understanding of their crimes and it's left to laid-back detective Koji Yaskusho to figure out what's going on.

The film is Kiyoshi Kurosawa's "Cure" and since it first appeared in 1997 has built up something of a cult following. It's like a Japanese version of "Seven" and Kurosawa builds up the suspense beautifully, using tiny shock tactics rather than big jump-out-at-you scares and elicting a genuinely eerie performance from Masato Hagiwara as the man who's probably behind the killings. A superb use of sound effects also adds to the general feeling of unease making this one of the most unsettling horror films of the last 25 years.
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10/10
Oddly fascinating...
MarieGabrielle29 March 2012
Detective Takabe (Koji Yakusho) is called upon to solve a group of inexplicable murders.

The sights and sounds of this film encompass an odd sense of foreboding and despair. I watched this DVD four separate times as it had such an effect, as did several of the performances.

Takabe is saddled with the additional burden of a wife with emotional problems, she has an amnesia of sorts and also is at times depressed. We see his frustration as he comes home from a long days work merely hoping to engage in conversation with her.

There is a young man roaming the city who is eventually hospitalized, who incites various people to act out, or kill in a ritualistic fashion. It comes to bear that Mahimi was at one time a medical student studying the occult and hypnotism as taught by Austrian "occultist" Anton Mesmer ("Mesmerism").

In Japan it is revealed this technique was called "soul conjuring" and suppressed by the Meiji Government during the late 1800's. The events unravel in a domino effect, taking you into a bizarre scenario.

Overall this is an excellent film with good performances, do not mind the subtitles. I will be looking for other films by this director as well. Excellent suspense here, in American film we do not have similar, except maybe for Hitchcock. 10/10.
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7/10
A Haunting Vision of Madness as an Uncontrollable Plague
drqshadow-reviews27 November 2018
Inexplicable murders plague a Japanese town, conspicuous not just in their brutish commonality (each victim is finished in the same way: a broad X carved into their neck) but in the immediate presence and confused confession of a guilty party. The evidence doesn't lie - these men and women clearly committed the crime - but the striking similarities and a complete lack of motive or hesitation suggest something larger at work. Alongside an obsessive, emotionally distant police detective, we dig for clues, grow frustrated, luck into a break and suddenly find ourselves right in the middle of something that's beyond our control.

Exploring the tricky theme of impulsive, ritualistic violence as a sort of viral social disorder, Kiyoshi Kurosawa (no relation to Akira) toys with some heavy stuff in Cure. It's a bold experiment that doesn't always work. The setup of the first hour, for example, is awfully slow and disconnected, considering the amount of bloody murder going down. Once we edge nearer to the cause of this macabre work, though, things get interesting, fast. It's horror in both the traditional sense and a more modern one; a gory hunt for an unhinged mastermind (of sorts) with startling jumps and plenty of body bags, but also a haunting vision of madness as an uncontrollable plague, an invisible killer that moves from one host to the next. An imperfect but effective experiment, particularly as the screen betrays our trust in the third act.
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10/10
The Single Greatest Film in the History of Japanese Cinema
ebossert27 November 2008
Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa perfects the concept of hypnotic villainy in this film, which features a battle of wills between a detective and a genius who uses the power of suggestion to set in motion a series of killings throughout a city. Showcasing innovative suspense sequences, plot twists, and rich psychological/philosophical concepts, this film will have viewers pondering well after it ends. Kiyoshi again manages to elude the pitfalls of popular cinema to contribute not only a chilling masterpiece, but arguably one of the most awesome villains to ever grace the big screen.

Of the thousands of films I've seen, few have floored me to the point where I've wanted to grant them the honor of being the "Best Movie Ever." The only other film that comes to mind is "A Tale of Two Sisters" (2003), which is easily the most impressive motion picture of all time. Since that distinction is taken, that leaves "Cure" (1997) with the runner-up spot in terms of world cinema, but the medal for "Best Japanese Movie Ever" is still for the taking. This film takes it. I've seen 1,328 films from that country, and I can tell you that even Yasujiro Ozu and Shinya Tsukamoto have failed to match the brilliance of "Cure."

This is quite possibly the most engaging slow-paced film in existence. The tempo moves slower than molasses in January, but the introduction of the lead antagonist a mere 8 minutes into the film sets the seemingly endless array of intriguing moments into motion from the get go. Masato Hagiwara's character of Kunio Mamiya is spellbinding with his hypnotic technique that starts off with seemingly trivial dialogue but slowly progresses into an ingenious psychological trap. This provides for a number of memorable moments, my favorite of which is the mesmerizing water enchantment of the hospital nurse. In addition, the identity of this character is expertly crafted as a sort of ambiguous soul/personality whose essence is only truly revealed during the very last frame. No other film has created an antagonist so uniformly dangerous, sublime, and interesting as Kunio Mamiya.

Kiyoshi Kurosawa is easily one of the top five directors of all time. This guy made three perfect films that no one talks about – "Cure" (1997), "Kairo" (2001), and "Charisma" (1999). What's really interesting is that he follows a rather unique art-house style that's almost never applied to the horror/thriller genres. Kiyoshi uses long shots, deliberate pacing, and ambiguity in moderation, which is unlike most art-house directors who have no sense of discretion. Despite the mindless ramblings of mainstream cinemaphiles, Kiyoshi rarely (if ever) indulges in pompous, self-congratulatory filming techniques because his choice of lean running times (under two hours in almost every instance) helps him to avoid the bloated, masturbatory pretentiousness that rears its ugly head in other art-house style films. Think Andrei Tarkovsky with more interesting and refined philosophical content and you'll have an idea of just how special Kiyoshi Kurosawa is as a director.

Whenever possible, I like to point out the high content levels of Kiyoshi's films in an attempt to counter the nonsensical claims of some who feel that he practices a form of style over substance. Take the seemingly trivial dialogue that the Kunio Mimiya character engages in during his hypnotic acts of terrorism. The exchanges are an odd mix on a superficial level, but one comes to realize their importance when the victims are subjected to police interrogation. Only then does the viewer understand why Kunio fakes his amnesia (an attempt to elude his victims memories) and engages in circular question-begging. Also note the attention to details in other situations. Within the final 20 minutes we see Koji Yakusho in a quaint diner, but only upon further inspection do we realize that in one case his plate is filled with leftover food while in the other case it's licked clean, an important revelation of his essential change in character for the finale. And how about that final shot? This is just awesome cinema people. Magnificent.

In retrospect, "Cure" was the true beginning of the Japanese horror phenomenon that has followed it's release. While lacking in industry influence that has helped to establish Japanese horror in general (that nod goes to Nakata's "Ringu" of 1998), it provides a ground zero date for the turning of the tide so to speak. For all intents and purposes, Japanese horror has kicked everyone else's backside from 1997 onward. That said, I am truly unhappy that Kiyoshi chose to leave the genre for more dramatic fare because we're already inundated with enough art-house dramas to keep us busy. How many expertly crafted art-house horror films are there floating around today? Whatever the number, it's not nearly enough.

It's really too bad that good taste in film is practically extinct, because "Cure" should be one of those movies that everyone under the sun raves about until they're blue in the face. Kiyoshi isn't blessed with the lunatic fan base that follows guys like Akira Kurosawa or Andrei Tarkovsky. (Maybe I count as the first big fan of Kiyoshi.) It's a shame that he has established himself as an upper echelon filmmaker but somehow hasn't won over the majority of paid critics and film snobs who so easily drive the "emperor with no clothes" tide to coerce and guilt people into riding the bandwagons of lesser filmmakers.

In any case, "Cure" is the pinnacle of exceptional film-making. It's also Kiyoshi Kurosawa's best film, and that's saying something.
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9/10
This is one HELL of a movie...Kiyoshi Kurosawa is a master filmmaker who needs to be noticed around the world
LatinoNoir22 February 2003
WOW!!!! Now THAT was an EXCELLENT ending to a GREAT movie. It stuck with me for several hours after first watching it and the second time was no different. It had slow methodical pacing, but it was never boring. I, for one, appreciated the elliptical editing as it's just a filmmaker doing something different and being creative. Actually, it added to the hypnotic arc of the story. It didn't bother me whatsoever, although it wasn't nearly as effective in Kiyoshi's other great movie, "Kairo." Koji Yakusho was brilliant as troubled Detective Takabe and the mysterious drifter with hypnotic powers was very convincing as well. The use of hypnotism to get others to kill and rendering themselves soulless, was a refreshing take on the serial-killer subgenre, of which I love. Someone commented here that only people who "buy the mumbo jumbo" hypnotism storyline would like this film, and comments like those always bother me. Narrative films are not REAL LIFE, even the ones based on true stories. They are works of art, and try to tell us entertaining, comedic, frightning, and dramatic stories to keep the audience interested. I don't have to believe in the subjects their stories are telling me, nor do I believe they need to solve the world's problems. All I care is that they give me an interesting idea, an interesting story, with well-written dialogue, and if it ends with a bang. These, blended with great acting (now that's an area that needs convincing in film), great camera work, and an engaging score. Those are what make films interesting and "Kyua" aka "Cure" has all those qualities. Highly recommended.
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