SD Asian Film Festival & Pac-Arts presents Cold Fish

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Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Nikkatsu

Director: Shion Sono

Review Rating: 7

A timid fish store owner gets caught up in the mad world of a competitor fish store owner’s serial killing spree with his equally psychotic wife!

I wanted it to be more. As it was, the movie was fairly good, and reminded me a bit of that underrated gem Falling Down, in which during the course of one day a mild mannered man proceeds to go completely bugshit on everything that bothers him. In Cold Fish, Syamoto’s existence is pretty worthless. He has this hot little second wife and a teenage daughter who despises her, won’t listen and steals and runs around to get his attention. This is how Syamoto ends up falling in with Murata: daughter Mitsuko was caught stealing and Murata the rival fish seller gives her a job at his own fish store for her to make up her transgression. He takes a liking to Syamoto, and the next thing you know, they’re supposedly business partners together with some shady deals, and then hey, since we’re such good friends and all, Syamoto you now need to help me “disappear” this other business partner. This means going out to this awful little chapel with Murata and his slutty wife Aiko, watching them gleefully dismember the body but thankfully not being required to participate, just get them coffee, and helping to dispose of the bone and meat evidence after. Murata claims he’s been doing this for many years and has “disappeared” over 57 people, so it’s probably not best to cross him. Mitsuko now has a job with Murata and stays in the dorm he provides, but she still isn’t acting any kind of proper towards her father and stepmother. Second wife Taeko, that misunderstood smoker who can’t cook and didn’t raise a hand in self defense when her step-daughter went to beat her, somehow finds herself under Murata’s spell too and sleeps with the crazy guy. Poor Syamoto is trying to reconnect with his 2nd wife, is being beset upon by the police and the nasty family of the business partner he helped Murata be rid of, and things are rapidly spiraling out of his control. Every man has his breaking point, and Syamoto reaches his when Murata goes too far, culminating in a gloriously destructive frenzy and well deserved killing spree.

Yes, every man has his breaking point. But what I wanted was for it to turn out that that mild-mannered Clark Kent wannabe boring little fish store owner to turn out to already be a serial killer and was just hiding it under monumental self control. Sadly it wasn’t, but the movie makes up for that lack with the frenetic acting of Denden as Murata, and the beautifully psychotic lash of Mitsuru Fukikoshi as Syamoto.

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