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Cure (Eureka! Masters of Cinema Blu-ray Review)

Released to critical acclaim in both the East and the West, Cure was a breakthrough film for director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, a nerve shredding thriller about the hunt for a serial killer in a bleak and decaying Tokyo.  A series of murders have been committed by ordinary people who claim to have had no control over their horrifying actions. Following the only link a mysterious stranger who had brief contact with each perpetrator and their victim detective Kenichi Takabe ( Kôji Yakusho, 13 Assassins, Tokyo Sonata) places his own sanity on the line as he tries to end the wave of inexplicable terror.  Described as one of the greatest films of all time by Bong Joon-ho ( The Host, Snowpiercer), Cure is a deeply unsettling masterpiece of its genre, and has shockingly been unavailable on home video in the UK until now. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Cure in a special Dual Format edition. *Please be aware that Cure is Region B locked, so you will need a Region Free player for proper playback.

 

Film 

A string of grisly murders is plaguing Tokyo – the only commonality is that someone has been carving an X into the victims. A person of interest is found next to one of the latest victims and it’s up to Detective Kenichi Takabe (Koji Yakusho) to solve the case before it’s too late. That is the synopsis, in a nutshell, of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s (Creepy, Penance, PulseCure. People, unrelated to each other by trade, class, or socioeconomics have been on a bloody rampage killing random people. Often times they linger at the scene of the crime to be found out by the police. The people that have committed these brutal murders wake from a trance-like state with absolutely no memory of what happened or what led up to the crime at hand.

As Takabe closes in on the person responsible for it – he comes to the realization that words are more dangerous than weapons. I’ve been a fan of Koji Yakusho for years ever since 13 Assassins and to see him as a beat down detective hunting for a serial killer was a real treat. Cure is definitely unsettling and nerve-racking due to their not being any rhyme or reason as to why these people are being manipulated to kill.

Cure is like a combination of Se7en and Silence of the Lambs rolled into one. Watching Cure, the visual aesthetic is anything but slick. Folks associate Tokyo as a sort of “megapolis” of steel and technology. The cityscapes in Cure are the complete opposite. They’re dirty, dark, and not necessarily located in the best parts of the city, so that was eye-opening. The brutality of some of the kills is also startling and that’s probably due to how random and un-staged they look. They look like real life — there’s no choreography involved.

Cure is also my first introduction to Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s films. There was buzz not too long ago for his film Creepy, but I have not seen that one yet. I did borrow Penance from my local library and will seek out some of his current and past works. He’s a genre director, also not all of the material he is involved with is dark and dreary. With this special edition of Cure from the folks over at Eureka! Masters of Cinema – here’s hoping it reaches a greater audience than it did back in 1997. Cure is a phenomenal and disturbing film — it needs to be seen to be believed.

‘There are startling images and moments in this picture that will haunt you for a long time to come… it’s not for the faint of heart.  But be brave, because it’s worth it.  Kurosawa is a major filmmaker’ – Martin Scorsese

 

Video 

Encoding: AVC/MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail: Cure is a 20-year old film and due to technological limitations of the time, budgetary reasons, may not have been shot and slickly or as high quality as the typical thriller would be. On the surface that can be its undoing but, in this case, – it gives the film a scary realism of sorts. Contrast levels are also well-balanced.

Depth: Film grain is present – and there are decent views of the more urban Japanese landscapes one is not used to seeing.

Black Levels: Black levels are decent and I did not detect severe crushing.

Color Reproduction: The color palette is chiaroscuro, muted, with emphasis on heavy browns and the like.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones range from natural to pasty, so it all depends on the character and whether they are either dead, alive, or under duress.

Noise/Artifacts: There’s no avoiding this one, but since inherent to the source, one can see that there are quite a few scenes that suffer from excessive dirt, hairs, and grit. Since I am of the “glass half full” type — I think the excessive grit gives Cure an aesthetic edge. The quality of the print is congruent with the subject matter at hand.

 

 

Audio 

Audio Format(s): Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1, Japanese LPCM 2.0

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: Cure has a very minimalist soundtrack. There are large stretches that feature no music — and these scenes rely on environmental factors. Wind, water, sounds of pipes, drainage, etc. It’s a dialogue heavy film, with sudden bursts of brutal violence. It’s definitely not demo material but the naturalistic quality of the soundtrack will leave the viewer quite unsettled. Cure does not have a traditional music score – there is music at the beginning of the film and at the end only.

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel does not get a hefty workout — it’s only present during the lowest of the low scenes involving bass.

Surround Sound Presentation: The surround sound channels handle the ambiance just right.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue levels are clean, crisp, and precise. The spoken syncs well with the subtitled text.

 

Extras 

The special features included on the Blu-ray consist of several interviews with Kiyoshi Kurosawa and with critic & author Kim Newman. There’s an archival interview and a brand new one with Kurosawa. Newman gets his own separate interview. Kurosawa’s Creepy film gets mentioned in the more recent interviews, but there are no spoilers. A theatrical trailer and collector’s booklet round out the special features.

  • Kiyoshi Kurosawa on Cure (17 mins) a new video interview with director Kiyoshi Kurosawa
  • A new video interview with critic & author Kim Newman
  • An archival interview with director Kiyoshi Kurosawa
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • A collector s booklet featuring an essay by Tom Mes

 

Summary 

Cure is a powerful film and one of the best Japanese films of the 1990’s. Eureka’s new Blu-ray edition, outside of catching a print in the theater, is the best it has ever looked or sounded. The extras are a mix of new and old interviews with Kurosawa. Here’s hoping a new generation will discover this grim thriller on the Blu-ray format. Please be aware that Cure is Region B locked, so you will need a Region Free player for proper playback. Cure is highly recommended!

 

 

 

 

Cure is available via Amazon

ORDER NOW!

 

 

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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