VENGEANCE IS MINE (1979) Reviews and overview

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Vengeance Is Mine is a 1979 feature film directed by Shōhei Imamura, based on the book of the same name by Ryuzo Saki. It depicts the true story of serial killer Akira Nishiguchi (played by Iwao Enokizu in the film).

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The movie stars Ken Ogata as Enokizu, with Mayumi Ogawa, Rentarō Mikuni, Mitsuko Baisho, Nijiko Kiyokawa and Chocho Miyako. The film won the 1979 Best Picture Award at the Japanese Academy Awards, and won Best Screenplay at the Yokohama Film Festival, where Ken Ogata also won Best Actor. The original Japanese title is 復讐するは我にあり, fukushū suru wa ware ni ari)

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Unfolding through multiple flashbacks, Ogata delivers a career-defining performance as a day-labourer and small-time con-artist who, after killing two of his co-workers, embarks on a psychopathic spree of carnal violence and murder. Eluding the police and public, Japan’s infamous King of Criminals passes himself off as a Kyoto University professor, only to become entangled with an innkeeper and her twisted mother….

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“Ogata nails the role down perfectly. A physical and mental role for the actor, he delivered a performance that ultimately holds the entire film on its shoulders but never tilts for nary a moment. Without question, one of the most intriguing portrayals of a serial killer ever committed to film.” Varied Celluloid

“Vengeance is Mine has no wish to make sense of a “senseless crime,” it only wants to make “senselessness” palpable. And that it does—to devastating effect.” Criterion Collection

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Buy: Vengeance is Mine [Masters of Cinema] (Dual Format Edition) [Blu-ray] [1979]


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