Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 8th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, December 5th, 2003
Director: Ryuhei Kitamura
Writer: Tsutomu Takahashi
Cast: Yumiko Shaku, Takao Osawa, Shosuke Tanihara
DVD released: July 25th, 2005
Approximate running time: 122 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 Japanese, Dolby Digital Stereo Japanese
DVD Release: Optimum Asia
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £15.99
Synopsis: On the day of his wedding detective Kanzaki (Shosuke Tanihara) is called into investigate a brutal murder in which a young woman has had her heart ripped out. His bride to be Mina (Yumiko Shaku) becomes the fourth victim as she walks down the isle towards Kanzaki the man she loves. Sayori Toyama is a reporter who is given the rare privilege of interviewing billionaire recluse Tatsuya Kudo a scientists who specializes in genetics. Tatsuya’s has spent the last few years searching for a cure for his wife Eri who he has kept alive on life support. Mina now dead stands at “The Gate of Rage” in which each person who comes to this gateway is given three choices journey into paradise and be reborn, choose to remain as a ghost because of your refuse to accept that you have died or impose a curse on someone from the mortal realm before descending into the fires of hell. Tatsuya continues his quest for a cure for his wife with the help of his secretary Rei who helps him collect the hearts of his victims. Detective Kanzaki overwhelmed by his loss continues to search for his fiancés killers will be forced to make the ultimate sacrifice to save the woman he loves.
Sky High is the second film by Ryuhei Kitamura that I have seen so far with his film Verses being my introduction to his cinematic style. Event though they are directed by the same person they could be more far apart in style and theme. Sky High is a movie about choices and how these choices that have been made reshape our destiny. Two other themes prominent through out the film are love & revenge and how these two emotions affect each other. Kanzaki deals with the loss of his fiancée Mina by mopping around and at one point he even contemplates suicide as a way to reunite himself with his lost lover. Tatsuya is the polar opposite of Kanzaki as his obsession to restore his wife to her former healthy self consumes him with madness and rage.
All the cast is very good with my favorite performances being the paring of Tatsuya and Rei who are delirious evil as they dispose of everyone or anyone who gets in their way. Sky High is beautifully lit as colors radiate from the screen and every composition has been carefully designed like a great work of art. The sets have been meticulously constructed and the architecture for the buildings used for exterior shots are adds to the films epic feel. Sky High is not as action heavy as Ryuhei Kitamura Verses which actually is positive since the focus is more on the characters and how they evolve. The final third of the film is almost all action leading up to final showdown that proves that true love does last forever. Sky High is moving drama about two men, one mans despair that leads ultimately to the rage the does him in while the other mans loss leads his ultimate sacrifice all in the name of love, highly recommended.
Optimum Asia presents Sky High in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The colors look vibrant and are nicely saturated through out. Flesh tones look natural and healthy. Black levels remain constant through out as they display an exceptional amount of detail in every frame. There are no problems with compression and grain is kept to a minimum. Overall the transfers looks pretty good with its biggest flaw being issues ghosting that is most noticeable during the films action sequences.
This release comes with one audio option the films original Japanese language track that is presented in two different audio mixes a Dolby Digital 5.1 and a Dolby Digital stereo. The Dolby Digital 5.1 is the better of the two tracks as it offers a fuller sound that better compliments the films atmosphere. Dialog is always easy to understand and the action sequences take full advantage of all the speakers. There are no problems with hiss or distortion. English subtitles that are easy to read and follow have been included. Extras include two trailers for Sky High and trailers for other Optimum Asia releases like Azumi, Azumi 2, Arahan, The Doll Master and Fighter in the Wind.
Other extras include cast and crew interviews which is essentially behind the scenes footage inter-cut with interview footage of Yukimo Skaku discussing the film and her character Mina. This segment runs about nine minutes in length. Rounding out the extras is a making of documentary that is mostly comprised of outtakes and behind the scenes footage. This segment runs about eight minutes in length. Optimum Asia has put together another solid release that comes with some interesting extras.