Inugami-ke no ichizoku


Drama / Mystery / Thriller

Plot summary

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1.2 GB
Japanese 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 14 min
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2.47 GB
Japanese 5.1
23.976 fps
2 hr 14 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by DICK STEEL8 / 10

A Nutshell Review: Murder of the Inugami Clan

The closing film of the Tokyo International Film Festival back in 2006, this movie is a remake by the late Kon Ichikawa of one of his own, whose original film based on the same novel by Seishi Yokomizo, was made some 30 years ago. Anyway this is nothing new or surprising, given that filmmakers do revisit some of their earlier works (Funny Games anyone?). I haven't seen the original so I don't have a basis for comparison, so take it from me that I'm watching this for the very first time, even though some of the principal cast members return to take up their same roles in this remake, such as Koji Ishizaka as the private eye Kosuke Kindaichi and Takeshi Kato as Chief Todoroki.

Murder of the Inugami Clan is extremely old school, in the classic sense of the word. One shouldn't expect some snazzy updating on the look and feel to it what with special effects, or worse, over the top acting. Everything is still extremely measured, capped by genuinely good performances all round, and in a whodunnit, has plenty of red herrings to keep you busy, while never wasting any time in moving the narrative forward. It sustains its mystery with the dead showing up frequently, teasing you with possibilities and options, in a race against time for the detective Kosuke and the relatively inept police to figure out the crime.

And the crime is committed over a struggle for property and riches. The pariah of the Inugami has passed away, and in his wake is revealed a will that is safekept by the family lawyer. The conditions of the will can only be made known when all members of the family, and its extended links, congregate in the family home in Nagano, and the terms and conditions of inheritance is nothing short of mind-boggling, especially when a seemingly distant outsider in Tamayo (Nanako Matshushima) has to decide who amongst the scions of the family she has to marry, in order to gain control over a large chunk of family fortune.

So the whodunnit begins, when dead bodies appear with family members getting bumped off in some really grotesque fashion. In fact, having the presence of a masked Sukekiyo, due to injuries sustained in WWII, is chilling enough, as we only see the eyes of a man whose identity is suspect by everyone, since he has something obvious to hide. Kon Ichikawa sticks to ketchup blood, but even then, the imagery of the grizzly crime still sticks vividly to your mind, especially when these are enacted for the audience to see from Kosuke's perspective.

As much as the movie takes its time to set things up, it also takes as much time to decompress all the events for you, which I thought on one hand was rather enjoyable to be taken through, but on the other wondered about the necessity of having to show everything again in verbatim terms. There are enough twists and turns in the movie, though at times you might feel that you are one step ahead, because I suppose for a more cynical audience in today's context, you would find it rather easy to cut through the smoke and mirrors, and get to the point.

Still, it makes for excellent viewing since I can't resist a good detective story, which seems to be quite scarce these days.

Reviewed by j-penkair6 / 10

End of An Era

There is a tragedy of great artists getting old and off. I think Kon Ichikawa had suffered from this reality and it is reflected here rather clearly in this film. It would be wrong to judge his directorial profile upon the twilight of his days. I know several great directors who insisted on making films to the very end, and their later works were never comparable to the masterpieces of the early days. John Huston was one. Francis Ford Coppola comes to mind. William Friedkin is probably another. Not sure if it is happening with the unsinkable Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. No sign, though, on the works of Clint Eastwood and Woody Allen, possibly because of their mixed records. Nevertheless, even a lesser work of Kon Ichikawa's calibre does not fail to entertain. The story remains well-told and grabbing. Only here and there, we see some awkward moments, probably on the old man's bad days at work. Ichikawa's firm imprint is quite pale in this one. Watching this film, one should decide to relax, less critiquing, and be thoroughly entertained. I find it a nice, clean, unpolluted detective story of a classic nature. It takes a clean-minded person like Ichikawa's to make such an all-around cleanly environment. A political message is also there, neatly and carefully inserted: Japan in the aftermath of World War Two. People suffered greatly at the loss of their loved ones. Future was blurry and good fortunes were hard to find or be believed. And personal economy was rather impossible. Thus, greed, economically-motivated crimes, and shortsightedness of those lost souls. Not only in such a vain and vengeful old family, even our good detective must count his pay to make sure it is all there. This is the one Japan that died along with Mr. Kon Ichikawa. Today will bring this haunting ghost back to Japan or not, right after the Tsunami and series of economic earthquakes, we do not know.

Reviewed by Mozjoukine10 / 10

Unique Ichikawa entertainment.

Measured, elegant, unique, impeccably made, Ichikawa chose a vintage fifties who-done-it and used the post war setting, the hint of perverted Japanese Industrial power and lashings of violence, with a bit of sex, to create something that is unlike anything else in his or anyone else's output.

Shifting the detective story to a Japan full of returned soldiers, shortages and disrupted tradition and then playing the simple minded material straight faced, complete with the mask over a mask heir to the family fortune that is to be allocated by reading the will, comes with all his life time of technical know how. It makes what is very slow paced gripping and at the same time something closer to art film.

The star presences of Junko Fuji and Nakadai, as a Black & white still photo, produce the touch that confirms that this is not just an old man's pulp fiction.

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