Jul 17, 2008
Plot Outline: Kuroda (Masato Hagiwara) a handyman is one day approached by a beautiful young woman named Saori (Miki Nakatani) who asks him to take a special job for her. She wants him to help her fake her own kidnapping and demand a ransom from her husband. She says she wants to know if her husband is true to her. On the day of the job everything goes as planned. She comes to his apartment, they find a place for her to hide out, he ties her up and begins making his demands. Later during the night when Masada comes to check on her though, she lies dead. The killer calls him on the phone and asks him to dump the body. From here on out, Masada tries his best to unravel what has happened.


The Review
Of all the films to come out of Japan in the last few years, Chaos stands out as one of the few flicks that doesn’t seem to be getting the press it deserves, with Kairo coming in second place. I think I even read Harry Knowles, the skinny-impaired webmaster of, call the film a failure or something along those lines. Well, perhaps I saw a different film because Chaos most certainly is not a failure or even an upset. With Chaos Nakata has taken a large step as a filmmaker. The film is mature, passionate and above all else, it’s beautiful and unique. It’s noir with a very Japanese perspective, something I’m not used to and it produces one of my favorite films of recent years.

Much ado has been made out of the non-linear style of Chaos, but after watching the film a second time I realized it’s not really that big of a deal. No more than Fred MacMurray telling the story of his crime through flashback in Double Indemnity really. Comparison’s with Memento are unavoidable since it was released around the same time, but the films are different in nearly every fashion. Unlike Memento, Chaos doesn’t feel like it has to rely on it’s out of order story. No offense to Memento of course, just Chaos feels more genuine in using the technique as a style choice rather than an experiment. The story fluxes from one point of time to another about three or four times in the film, each time giving more information on exactly what is going on, slowly revealing it’s self, rather than having scenes explain the previous. Besides, Memento told it’s story backwards, Chaos has more in common with Pulp Fiction when it comes to narrative structure. Even still, it doesn’t really matter because Chaos feels like it could be rewritten in chronological order and still produce the same effect.

If I could use one word to describe Chaos, it would be intoxicating. The lush cinematography and the beautiful and far from subtle score highlight the film. Not to mention the minimalist acting style and terrific performances of the two leads. Miki Nakatani (who plays Saori) who’s best know for working with Nakata on the first two ring films, gives what is most definitely her greatest performance. In the Ring films she didn’t seem to have much to do but act scared, but with Chaos she shows she’s quite the dramatic actress. Sometimes feral, sometimes sweet, at all times seductive. Nakatani is truly a treat to see on screen. The rest of the actors are all just as dynamic on screen, but in the end this is Nakatani’s show. Now, I may not speak the Japanese language that well so I cannot comment on the actual delivery of the lines, but some things transcend languages. Just look how ferocious the love scene near the end of the film is, and the thing that comes between the two lovers. It’s all in the facial expressions of the two. The tears in her eyes, his confusion, it’s just one of the most well composed things I’ve ever seen.

Chaos moves at it’s own pace, much like Kitano, but it’s not the kind of film I could imagine anyone being bored by. It’s slow getting to where it wants, but it gives the audience enough eye candy and food for thought to sustain the reaction it wants. That reaction is your attention it’s self. Chaos keeps you thinking at all times, and almost hypnotizes in a way with it’s trance inducing beauty. Maybe that’s just me, but whatever. If there is one thing that is going to make or break this film with you, it’s the ending. As a Asian Cinema devotee, particularly Japanese Cinema, the ending didn’t come as a shock to me and almost seemed a bit predictable. In the outcome though, I just couldn’t have imagined it ending any other way. I won’t go into detail about what exactly happens, but if you’re the type of person how feels a bad ending can ruin a good film, then you might want to be hesitant about Chaos. I personally didn’t have any qualms about the ending, but I can almost guarantee the film will be thought of as anti climatic by most who view it.

The Conclusion
Anyway, if Chaos proves one thing to me, it’s the brilliance of Hideo Nakata. Back when I first saw Ringu, oh so long ago, I remember feeling almost ripped off. I had heard all of these people talking about this Japanese film that was supposed to be the ‘be-all-end-all’ of horror filmmaking, but when I saw it I wasn’t really frightened at all. Now that I look back on the film, much like Cannibal Holocaust, I was just looking at the film from it’s wrong perspective. It was all about style and a different kind of horror. Then I saw Ringu 2 and I was even more impressed. It surely didn’t live up to the first film, but the style and originality was their. Then along came Chaos, and now for sure, I am a fan. The first Ringu films didn’t stick to me as a favorite mind you, but Chaos and Dark Water most certainly did. If you take into account all I’ve said, I’m sure most will at the least find Chaos impressive. Then again, maybe I just see something different in the film than most. Either way, it gets a five rating!