Vengeance Is Mine

Vengeance Is Mine is an examination of the unregenerate criminal mind, based on the true story of the “King of Criminals” who seduced and murdered his way through Japan until finally caught by police. His story became a best selling “non-fiction novel,” upon which Shohei Imamura has based this film of psychological complexity, graphic violence and grisly humor. Sheldan Renan comments, “The film tumbles between present (showing the hero's crimes) and past (showing some of the causes of his rage against society), between beautiful stylized photography and gritty realism, between distance and intimacy. The film itself seduces and assaults the audience, just as the character Enokizu did his victims.

“Vengeance Is Mine
shows us the places never seen in most Japanese films - the back alleys and cheap inns. And audiences should be warned that it also shows sex and violence with a directness that many will find upsetting.” (Filmex '80)

Director Imamura, considered one of the three great modern Japanese film directors (along with Shinoda and Oshima), is relatively unknown in the West, although he has drawn attention in Japan since the 50s for his almost anthropological explorations of the Japanese character, “the notion of the Japanese as a race of people whose vitality, individualism and key instincts for survival are rooted in a primitive culture that predates not only the advent of the ‘rational' Western influence, but also rigid formalization of the arts imposed by urban feudal society” (Japan Society).

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