Cold Fish (DVD Review)

Of late, I have developed quite the interest in Asian cinema.  Oh, sure, I’d dabbled before– I’ve got more than a few Miike films on my shelf, for instance– but lately I’ve been going bananas with our friends to the East (note: “Friends to The East” does not include Kim Jong-Il, just in case anyone’s concerned about my political affiliations).  It started with me revisiting Old Boy, and quickly turned into me buying up a slew of Asian Blu-rays over the past few weeks: The Good, The Bad, and The Weird and The Host and I Saw The Devil and — of course– House.  And so, when the opportunity to review the Asian horror film Cold Fish arose, I gladly accepted.  Unlike another, American-made horror film released under the “Bloody Disgusting Selects” banner that I just reviewed (YellowBrickRoad), this one was actually pretty damn good.  Let’s get to it. 




Sion Sono’s Cold Fish is a helluva good movie, one that I’m really pleased to have come across.  I learn– from my best friend, Wikipedia– that the film is actually the latest in a series of gory movies from a Japanese production company called Sushi Typhoon (which, incidentally, was the name of my middle-school garage band), and that the cover box’s claim that the film is “inspired by true events” is actually true:  apparently, Cold Fish was inspired by the real-life case of a husband-and-wife serial killer duo who ran a pet store.  Huh.

The film’s largely set in and around a tropical fish store, which looks a helluva lot like a fish store that David Fincher might feel at home in.  The film’s hero– Shamoto– crosses paths with a gentleman by the name of Murata, and soon enough Shamoto’s troubled teenage daughter is working at Murata’s tropical fish store (and, eventually, living at his house).  Murata charms the family easily enough, but it’s obvious from the get-go that something’s up with the dude.  After a somewhat slowly-moving first act, it becomes apparent that Murata’s using his fish store for a lot more than selling fish (hint: bodies are piling up), and that’s when the movie kicks into high gear.  Between then and the end, a lot of blood will be spilled.

Like Miike’s Audition, Cold Fish is the kinda flick that you should go into knowing as little as possible.  I hadn’t even heard of the film when I sat down to watch it, and as a result, the majority of the film’s story was a complete surprise to me.  That’s the good news.  Bad news is, like Audition, Cold Fish kinda takes a minute to get going, but once it does, you’ll be happy to stick around to the end to find out how the hell Shamoto’s going to extricate himself, his daughter– hell, his entire family– from the relationship they’ve formed with Murata.  If you’re the type that’s easily distracted and bored by films with subtitles, I can assure you that Cold Fish is worthy of your attention.  Hide all the shiny objects and give the film a chance:  it’s pretty awesome.

One final note here before we wrap this biatch up:  Denden (yeah, that’s his name), the guy who plays Murata?  Kicks all kinds of ass here.  He pulls of “charming but insane” with aplomb.  Going forward, I’ll be paying attention whenever this guy shows up in the credits on a movie.  Maybe it’s because Murata’s performance reminded of I Saw The Devil (another Asian horror film concerning serial killers that you need to see immediately), but I’d love to see this dude team up with Jee-woon Kim on a project.  Make it so, Japanese Hollywood!


It’s a DVD, and that means that the quality’s not on par with what you might be used to.  That said, what’s here looks good, and when watched through a Blu-ray player (or, in my case, a PS3), the film definitely looks more than passable.  Still, though, I’d love to own a copy of this on Blu-ray, and will be keeping my eyes peeled for one in the days ahead (note:  I just looked it up, and yeah, the film’s available on Blu-ray:  buy it in that format).


Again, it’s DVD:  what are you hoping for here?  The film’s mixed in 5.1 surround sound and does the job well enough, but there’s nothing here that’ll make you wanna show off the disc (or your elaborate, overpriced home theater system) to your friends.  Oh, DVD, why can’t you be more like your successful brother, Blu-ray?

Special Features 

Sono’s film comes with a few special features, neither of which set my pants aflame.  The first is an “Exclusive Interview With director Sion Sono”, which is all too brief.  On the one hand, I’d have preferred this “interview” was a “commentary”, but on the other hand, I don’t know that I’ve ever listened to a translated commentary before, and if I have, I must not have stuck with it for long.  So, maybe the all-too-brief interview’s just fine.  Meanwhile, in another corner of the special features list, is the option to listen to the film in its dubbed in English or in the original Japanese.  Take that as you will, but be aware that only wusses go for the dubbed version whenever it’s offered.

Final Thoughts 

Cold Fish came along at a perfect time for me, right in the middle of a weeks-long binge on Asian cinema.  The fact that it’s a horror film was a bonus.  I’m not sure how much Cold Fish reflects the facts in the actual case that inspired it, but I don’t really care:  I had a blast watching it, and would readily recommend this one to anyone who’s got a taste for Asian cinema, horror, or seafood.  Track this one down at your earliest convenience:  you won’t be disappointed.


Order Cold Fish on DVD!


1 Response to “Cold Fish (DVD Review)”

  1. Jiminy Critic

    Just put this on my Netflix… Looks good…