Reviewed by: Rees Savidis
What's it about
Title character, Sabu (Satoshi Tsumabuki) tries to discover who is responsible for the wrongful imprisonment of longtime friend Eiji (Tatsuya Fukiwara) before the prison island heís been sent to consumes him.
Is it good movie?
Takashi Miike is a mystery to me. Now, thatís not to say that I donít get him or that his films are in anyway unapproachable; the man merely remains a mystery because Iím just not that familiar with his work. Sure Iíve seen the requisite Miike films fans have clamored about for years (Audition and Ichi the Killer most notably) and Iím well informed on the whole Imprint debacle over at Showtime's Masters of Horror camp, but other than thatÖIím as virgin as Mary herself when it comes to having a defined knowledge of Miikeís work. It is with this limited knowledge, and without any sort of baggage, that I sat down to watch Miikeís 2002 made-for- (Japanese) television film, Sabu.
Compared to what Iíve seen of his work, and what that work usually encompass (Hyper-violence, psycho-sexuality and uber-weirdness abound), Sabu comes across as a little light; if not deflated. While it is certainly a well produced film, especially for television standards, Sabu fell a few hairs shy of holding my interest for its entire 122 minutes. Set during the Tokugawa Era (to all us round-eyes thatís the age of the Samurai), I was half expecting some twisted variation on a Kurosawa film. To my disappointment, that film never materialized. Instead, what I got was a slow-moving and oft-times downright boring morality tale. On the plus side, it was a gorgeous film to sit and stare at thanks to Miikeís usual go-to-guy, Cinematographer Hideo Yamamoto. Miike also shows himself to be quite capable of producing a film that doesnít rely on insane levels of bloodshed, bondage or body-modification as itís driving narrativeÖthough it certainly would have been welcome.
Video / Audio
VIDEO: A very respectable 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer shows off Hideo Yamamotoís camera skills nicely.
AUDIO: A decent Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Sabu is a decidedly talky film, so the back channels donít get too-much of a workout. That said the mix is fine enough
I can order anything at a sushi restaurant with practiced perfectionÖbut I still canít understand a single word of Japanese. Luckily, this DVD comes equipped with subtitles.
The Making of Sabu: This is a decent little 21 minute making-of piece that manages to entertain and, to a certain degree, enlighten the viewer to some of the more complex meanings behind Sabuís storyline.
Interview with Takashi Miike #1: Miike spends 9 minutes providing us with his opinion on the filmmaking process.
Interview with Takashi Miike #2: Miike spends an additional 2 minutes providing us with his opinion on the filmmaking process.
Interview with Sabuís male leads: Tatsuya Fujiwara and Satoshi Tsumabuki chat about making Sabu and what itís like to work with a filmmaker of Miikeís prowess.
Interview with Sabuís female leads: Omoko Tabata and Kazue Fukiishi do pretty much the same thing the guyís did in the last section of the special features.
The rest of the disc is rounded out by the original television and theatrical trailer for Sabu as well as biographies and filmographies for Miike and his stars.
After seeing Sabu I can honestly say I am no more a fan of Miikeís work than I was the day before I watched it. Itís a fine film that should have little trouble finding an audience, especially amongst Miike completists.