Killers Review (2014)

Killers Review (2014)

English Title Killers
Japanese Title Kirazu
Kana Title キラーズ
Director Mo Brothers
Release Date 2014
Distributor Nikkatsu

Just as the poster screams, Killers comes “From the makers of The Raid and Rumah Dara (Macabre).” As you would expect from a pairing of the Mo Brothers and Gareth Evan’s Merentau films, Killers is a real crowd pleaser for those that know what they’re getting in to. But more than that, it’s an unlikely Indonesian / Japanese co-production. On the Japanese side the film is produced by Yoshinori Chiba, the man behind; Fudoh, Eko Eko Azarak, Tokyo Gore Police, Cold Fish, Yakuza Apocalypse, etc, etc. From its inception Killers is a film absolutely designed to be a crossover international hit, that for better or for worse may be the most ‘co-production-iest’ co-production ever produced.

Killers follows the murderous rampages of two men; one in Japan, the other Indonesia. One a serial killer, the other a vigilante. Kazuki Kitamura’s Nomura is a handsome executive who spends his spare time kidnapping and torturing women before uploading his exploits to the internet. He finds a viewer thousands of miles away in Oka Antara’s Bayu, a down on his luck journalist who after killing two robbers in self-defence, follows the path of vigilantism. As the body count rises the two men follow each other’s work online, with Nomura attempting to persuade Bayu to kill for fun.

As you can tell from the background and the plot itself, Killers is a film of two halves. Outside of the connecting tissue of the internet the two stories have very little to do with each other, akin to two segments of an anthology film. But it’s in this cleverly fragmented narrative that the film shines. The structure explores violence as entertainment, intercutting between Bayu’s execution of those that ‘deserve it’, and Nomura’s inexcusable misogynist brutality. The two stories are so detached in fact, that when the two killers do inevitably meet, it feels rather abrupt and like a different film entirely. Killers could have done with the two never meeting at all, keeping the two stories thematically linked.

Outside of its structural device however, the film is rather routine, with other recent genre hits often coming to mind. The Japanese portion echoes Franck Khalfoun’s Maniac remake, even evoking soundtrack and lighting cues at times. The Jakarta section meanwhile is equal parts I Saw the Devil and The Raid, which makes sense given that the film features multiple The Raid cast members. The ending however really suffers from such blatant borrowing as the conclusion of the film is entirely lifted from one of the biggest films of the past ten years. It turns what had been an interesting mediation on violence and essentially boils it down to a battle between super villains.

Whilst the Japanese portion very successfully follows on from its influences, the Jakarta side doesn’t fare quite as well. Nomura is countries away from Indonesia, and really has little to seduce Bayu with, which makes his descent a little harder to believe than the personal motivation seen in I Saw the Devil. Despite his morbid fascination with Nomura’s videos, it’s also hard to see why a man like Bayu would upload footage of his vigilante killings. Rather than offer an explanation, the Mo Brothers simply have him pass out, and awake to find the videos already upload. A minor complaint maybe, but it comes so early in the film that the rest of the Indonesian story hinges on it. These videos are the only connecting tissue between our two protagonists, and yet rather than explain it, the film decides to rely on the old temporary amnesia trope.

killers2

The Japanese half of the film however is very strong. Whilst Nomura’s story heavily reminds me of Maniac, that isn’t a bad thing. As surprising as it is, there just aren’t very many Japanese serial killer movies, and Kazuki Kitamura delivers a damn good psychopath with Nomura. Perhaps it’s the benefit of an Indonesian directing team, but Killers is free of many of the elements that plague modern Japanese horror films. There are no idols, no confused angsty killer. Nomura is irredeemable with no positive features, and the Mo Brothers depict his haunting grounds of Kabukicho with grime and a real nasty atmosphere.

All things considered, if you’re a fan of ‘extreme’ Asian cinema you can’t go far wrong with Killers. In fact, its biggest flaw may be that it intentionally panders to its audience to such a degree that some moments feel inauthentic. Whilst its narrative experiment falls apart in its final moments, having two films take place in two different countries running concurrently is still a fascinating structural device. The geographical and societal differences between Japan and Indonesia also helps keep the film interesting in spite of a two and a half hour running time.

Where to watch Killers (2014)
Killers can be found on Blu Ray on Amazon, as well as streaming.

 

Previous Shin Gojira / Godzilla Resurgence 2016 Review / First Impressions
Next The Empire of Corpses Review (2015)

About author

Craig Hatch
Craig Hatch 35 posts

Horror Japan is Craig Hatch, a Brit currently living in Tokyo, Japan. Horror Japan is a project that aims to review and collate media from all aspects of Japanese horror culture.

View all posts by this author →

Editor review

Rating
3.5/5

3.5

Average
3.5
Summary

All things considered, if you’re a fan of ‘extreme’ Asian cinema you can’t go far wrong with Killers. In fact, its biggest flaw may be that it intentionally panders to its audience to such a degree that some moments feel inauthentic. Whilst the narrative experiment falls apart in its final moments, having two films take place in two different countries running concurrently is still a fascinating structural device.