Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 3rd, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, October 4th, 1980
Director: Toru Murakawa
Writer: Shoichi Maruyama
Cast: Yusaku Matsuda, Asami Kobayashi, Hideo Murota, Yoshio Aoki, Kouichi Iwaki, Shigeru Izumiya, Takeshi Kaga, Morio Kazama, Toshie Negishi, Rei Okamoto, Kei Sato
Approximate running time: 117 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Japanese
Subtitles: English & Chinese
DVD Release: IVL
Region Coding: Region 3 NTSC (Hong Kong)
Retail Price: $13.95
Synopsis: A former war correspondent photographer starts to lose his grip on reality after years of viewing battle field atrocities.
Over the years many actors have sacrificed their bodies by drastically losing or gaining weight to give them that certain look they would otherwise be unable to obtain just through their performance. Yusaku Matsuda lost about thirty pounds in preparation for his portrayal of Kunihiko Date in The Beast to Die. The end result is very effective and convincing. Yusaku Matsuda gives a mesmerizing performance of a man consumed by madness. Throughout his career Yusaku Matsuda has given many memorable performances with his performance in The Beast Must Die standing out as his most accomplished of his career.
The Beast to die was directed by Toru Murakawa who had previously worked with Yusaku Matsuda on the films The Resurrection of the Golden Wolf, Satsujin yugi, Shokei yugi and The Most Dangerous Game and the T.V. series “Tantei monogatari”. Visually director Toru Murakawa does a strong job combining images, music and performances. The film’s most memorable moment occurs during a thunder storm where Kunihiko Date’s newly recruited protégée executes his girlfriend. The film opens so strongly that the last hour and half is trying to catch up to it. The pacing of the film is very deliberate and there is never a moment that stands out like it could have been cut or should not be there. The director creates a nearly perfect story arch that loses some of its bite with an ending that ends to ambiguously.
The plot revolves around a war a fatigued photographer named Kunihiko Date whose deteriorating mental state only further escalates his need for violence. The film features two minor subplots the first is about a woman from Kunihiko Date’s past who still has feelings for him and the other subplot is a bank robbery that he plans and pulls off with the help of a likeminded lost soul. Even though they are based on different source material the Beast to die and Taxi Driver have many similarities. Both lead characters are war veterans who suffer mental breakdowns; they both blow their chances at love and they both live lonely existences.
The rest of the cast are all very good in their respective roles. Hideo Murota is amusing as a detective that always seems to be one step ahead of Kunihiko Date. On other notable performance is that of actress Rei Okamoto as the films main female presence. Rei Okamoto has an extensive list of credits including Okasu!, Assault! Jack the Ripper, Rape! 13th Hour, Fall Guy and Star of David: Beauty Hunting. The films soundtrack is filled with classic music like Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor and Chopin’s “Funeral March”. The use of classical music greatly compliments the film and it also plays a strong part in revealing more about the Kunihiko Date character.
Ultimately the Beast to die is fascinating look into the atrocities of war and its lasting effects on those who experienced its horror’s.
The Beast to Die is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. The image looks soft and there is some mild blurring is scenes with heavy motion. Colors and black levels look accurate throughout. Overall this transfer while not as strong as IVL’s transfer for Proof of the Man it is still more than watchable with none of its flaws ever drawing away from the story that unfolds.
One audio option has been included with this release a Dolby Digital mono mix in Japanese. The audio sounds evenly balanced and it is free of any distortion or audio defects. Removable Chinese and English subtitles have been included.
Extras for this release are limited a theatrical trailer for the Beast Must Die. English friendly releases of Yusaku Matsuda’s films are far and few in between.
IVL’s the Beast to Die DVD is an affordable English friendly release that will lacking in some areas it more than makes up for its shortcomings with its more than affordable price.