Survive Style 5+ (2004)

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Released 1-Sep-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Cult Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Eastern Eye Trailers
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 115:01
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Gen Sekiguchi
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Tadanobu Asano
Reika Hashimoto
Kyōko Koizumi
Hiroshi Abe
Ittoku Kishibe
Yumi Asō
Kanji Tsuda
Yoshiyuki Morishita
Jai West
YosiYosi Arakawa
Vinnie Jones
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI $29.95 Music James Shimoji


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown Japanese dts 5.1
Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes, a smoke after a murder is relaxing
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Survive Style 5+ tells a number of intersecting stories. Aman (Tadanobu Asano) continuously kills his wife (Reika Hashimoto) and buries her body in the woods only to return home to find her waiting for him, very annoyed. Yoko (Kyoko Koizumi) is an advertising executive with increasingly bizarre ideas for commercials and an obnoxious boyfriend (Hiroshi Abe) she wants to kill. After a hypnotist’s stage act ends disastrously, office worker Tatsuya Kobayashi (Ittoku Kishibe) believes he is a bird and behaves accordingly, much to the bewilderment of his wife Misa (Yumi Aso) and their two children. Three young men Tsuda (Kanji Tsuda), Morishita (Yoshiyuki Morishita) and J (Jai West) cruise the suburbs looking for a house to burgle. An English hit man (Vinnie Jones) who insistently asks everyone he meets “what is your function in life?” and his Japanese translator / employer (Yoshiyoshi Arakawa) arrive in Japan to fulfil a contract.

     These diverse stories during the course of the film intertwine in major and minor ways. Sometimes films with intersecting story lines can be very uneven, with some stories far more interesting than others. Sometimes the plotting can be so muddled, or the connections so forced, that the whole makes no sense. Survive Style 5+ counters by intercutting between the plot lines very, very frequently which might seem confusing but the characters are so clearly defined, and so different, it is never hard to know where we are and what is happening. The film is helped by the universally strong acting. Tadanobu Asano as the murderous husband and Ittoku Kishibe (probably best known in the West for his films for Takeshi Kitano, Violent Cop in 1989 and Zatoichi in 2003) are both deliciously deadpan in a film with little dialogue, but all the cast are wonderful. Even those in minor roles are great, such as the legendary martial arts actor Sonny Chiba as the company president who interrupts business meetings to take trivial phone calls from his wife, Pierre Taki as the motorcycle cop with the macabre sense of humour or even Nina Uchida and Ayano Seki as a pair of high school girls.

     Survive Style 5+ also uses abrupt camera moves, camera angles that draw attention to themselves, an aggressive rock music score, surreal, extreme psychedelic colours more like London 1960s pop culture (looking like the cover of Cream’s Disraeli Gears album) and some dialogue spoken directly to the audience to make it clear that this film is something different. Yet, while director Gen Sekiguchi’s background is in commercials, Survive Style 5+ is far more than a frenetic assault on the senses. There are a large number of statically framed scenes, the psychedelic colours beautifully filmed by cinematographer Makoto Shiguma, and there are also a number of quiet, reflective moments of revelation, especially to do with the family of the bird man Kobayashi coming to terms with his condition. It is also frequently very funny indeed. Where some films with multiple storylines struggle to resolve the plots, Survive Style 5+ comes up with an ending that is surprising, satisfying and uplifting.

     Survive Style 5+ is really about one’s perspective on the world; and how we survive our perspective changes as our ideas and circumstances change. The DVD cover promises that Survive Style 5+ is “like Pulp Fiction on steroids, with better acting” and certainly the similarities with Pulp Fiction include intersecting stories, inconsequential dialogue, black humour and violence, but the main difference is that where Pulp Fiction took itself seriously as a commentary on pop culture, Survive Style 5+ is so hip, so funny, so quirky that it never takes itself seriously. It is, quite simply, an absolute delight from start to finish. Do yourself a favour and see this film.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Survive Style 5+ is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced. It looks stunning.

     Colours are surreal, lavishly psychedelic throughout, starting from the opening scene in the forest that has a mystic, otherworldly look. Pause the film in the bedroom scene at 8:55: the room has two shades of crimson walls (one patterned), a green carpet, purple bedspread and framed pictures of numbers on the wall. The whole effect is London 1960s pop culture to the extreme. The boosted colours do produce occasional colour bleed, and some scenes look soft, with lessened sharpness. Contrast and brightness are stable, skin tones natural, the blacks rock solid and the shadow detail exceptional. I noticed a few film artefacts starting from 92:26 but they were infrequent and not distracting.

     English subtitles are in a yellow font. I did not notice any spelling or grammatical errors. There are also occasional burnt in Japanese subtitles for English dialogue.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is a choice of Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 448 Kbps or Japanese dts. I listened primarily to the dts track which seemed slightly more encompassing than the Dolby Digital, although that was still a good track.

     Quite simply, this audio rocks! Dialogue is clear and there is a wall of sound in many scenes while the effects often leap from the screen – such as the bird in the forest in the opening scene. The surrounds are constantly in use for effects and music, there are panning effects such as gunshots and the subwoofer kicks in frequently for the aggressive music score, motor car engines and various bumps and thumps.

     Lip synchronisation was fine.

     The score by James Shimoji is an excellent adjunct to the film. There is aggressive rock instrumental music, piano in the more reflective moments and some recurring songs by Cara Jones and Cake, whose take on I Will Survive over the closing credits sums up the films’ themes.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Original Trailer (1:29)

Eastern Eye Trailers

     Trailers for other films from Madman: Maiko Haaaan!!! (1:41), Haeundae (2:37), Big Man Japan (1:42), The Host (2:15) and Cutie Honey (2:07).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 2 Japanese two disc release includes 5 trailers and TV spots, a range of cast and crew profiles (with interviews) including actors Tadanobu Asano, Reiko Hashimoto, Kyoko Koizumi, Hiroshi Abe, Ittoku Hishibe, Yumi Asou, Kanji Tsuda, Yoshiyuki Morishita, Jai West, Yoshiyoshi Arakawa, Vinne Jones, Tomokazu Miura, Shinichi Chiba , writer Taku Tada and director Gen Sekiguchi. The second disc includes a “Making of” (28:21), 4 Deleted Scenes (7:52), a conversation between the writer and the director (30:41), more extensive interviews with actors Tadanobu Asano (6:09), Reika Hashimoto (8:11), Hiroshi Abe (7:00) and Yoshiyoshi (7:48), premiere footage (11:41), Survive Style in International Film Festivals (13:20), plus CM TV spots. There are English subtitles for the feature and extras. The report I’ve read indicates that the film is not 16x9 enhanced but I am unable to confirm this. That release is of course also in the NTSC format.

     The Region 2 UK PAL release has similar video and audio to ours (although it includes a Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 track as well as the dts and 5.1) plus the “Making Of” (28:22), trailer (1:31) and a montage of other films.

     I currently cannot find a Region 1 release of the film. On the basis of the extras above it would seem the Region 2 Japanese version is the one of choice.

Summary

     One of the delights of a reviewer is accidentally coming across an absolute gem. I knew nothing about Survive Style 5+ before I saw the film; and so I was surprised and delighted. It looks stunning, has inconsequential dialogue, black humour and violence and is so hip, so funny, so quirky it is, quite simply, an absolute joy from start to finish with a wonderful climax. The video and audio are excellent, the extras minimal compared to overseas versions of the film. If quirky films are your thing, get this film. Believe me, you will not be disappointed.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42inch Hi-Def LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
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