Tsuyoshi Matsuoka (Satoshi Tsumabuki) is a young doctor with a high level of concern for his patients. One day, he was examinating a patient, Manabe. The symptoms are flu-like, so Tsuyoshi orders tests, which come back negative. The next day, Manabe’s condition has worsened dramatically. He has jaundice, multiple organ failure, he bleeds from his eyes and his nose, goes into massive convulsions, and dies. To make matters worse, the announcement comes that the entire Emergency Center has been contaminated. More and more sufferers are brought in and died. At the same time, avian influenza is found on a nearby chicken farm, and the media goes into frenzy. The farm is identified as the source of this 'new influenza'. An invisible thread stalks the city and the infection starts to spread throughout all of Japan.
There was a time when we were impressed every time an epidemic movie was released. Just in case you are wondering what an “epidemic movie” is, it is a production which paints a dire picture of the world we live in. Usually, there would be a virus which has the scary ability to wipe out the entire world. Yes, there was a time when a scenario like this will frighten us to bits. But so many years later, we are, sadly, alive and kicking. Where is that virus which threatened to take over the world? Where is that unseen force which warned us that we humans are not the most powerful beings on the planet? Nothing catastrophic happened, and we went on with our lives, while continuing to watch blockbusters like this one, where Doomsday only happens on screen.
This latest offering from Japan tells the story of a young doctor (quite a good looking one at that too), who showers care and concern over all his patients. A decent fellow like that is hard to come by, but that’s beside the point. During one of his treatments, he comes across a new influenza which is spreading to the entire country, and the infection begins to take shape literally and figuratively, sending a nationwide panic throughout Japan.
There is really nothing new about this concept and having to sit through 138 dreary minutes of the cast looking fearful and anxious about their own fate is really an experience which you vaguely remember from years ago. The story of both the hopefuls and the pessimists isn’t anything exciting to shout about, and while we understand the well meaning intentions of the filmmakers to contrast these two groups of people to inspire viewers, it just comes across as a forced attempt which doesn’t break any new ground.
The cynical audiences would be watching this to see how the world will perish, with ugly images of how gory jaundice, organ failures, eyes and nose bleedings and human convulsions can get. It also sheds light on how selfish humans can be when put under extreme situations. This may be nothing new in terms of storytelling, but it does provide an opportunity to reflect on our own souls occasionally. The filmmakers did not forget the great human spirit which will salvage all matters at the end of the day. Call us skeptical, but will this really happen in the face of an epidemic? We remain doubtful.
The movie isn’t all that bad. The cast of Satoshi Tsumabuki (School Days with a Pig) and Rei Dan (Kabei: Our Mother) are pleasing enough to the eyes, and who else can they portray but the very likeable hero and heroine of the movie? Production values aren’t all that bad either. Expect to see some really impressive computer generated effects involving lots of extras. At the end of the day, this is movie magic that are meant to entertain. Ask yourself, when something of this scale happens in real life, will the courage and bravery still be there?
SPECIAL FEATURES :
This Code 3 DVD contains Trailers for the movie, 20th Century Boys II and Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, as well as a Photo Gallery.
There is nothing to complain about the movie’s visual transfer. it is presented in its original Japanese language.
by John Li
Posted on 12 October 2009