Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 22nd, 2006
Theatrical Release Dates: Japan, 2002
Director: Yoichi Sai
Writers: Wui Sin Chong, Yoshihiro Nakamura, Yoichi Sai, Kazuichi Hanawa (comic book)
Cast: Tsutomu Yamazaki, Teruyuki Kagawa, Tomorowo Taguchi, Yutaka Matsushige, Toshifumi Muramatsu, Ren Osugi
DVD released: September 26th, 2006
Approximate running time: 93 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Japanese
DVD Release: Parlour Pictures
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95
“To be satisfied with a little, is the greatest wisdom” – Akhenaton
Most prison films are about the violence that occurs amongst the inmates and the guards. Wither it be a woman in prison films like 99 women where woman are being victimized not only by the rest of the inmates but also by those who are supposed to protect them or a movie like Papillion in which Steve McQueen so brilliantly recreates the character of Henri ‘Papillon’ Charriere a man who never gave up hope even when the French prison system tried to beat it out of him. Doing Time is a unique entry into the prison film genre that explores ideas and themes that one would not normally associate with this type of a film.
Doing Time is based it is on actual experiences of Manga author Hanawa Kazuichi who was imprisoned for a three years for owing a gun. Unlike America where it is legal to own as many guns as you heart desires n Japan it is illegal to own any guns. After being released from Hanawa Kazuichi would base a series of Manga’s on his experiences while in prison. Director Yoichi Sai adaptation of Hanawa Kazuichi tales form prison remains faithfully to the original text as it rarely if ever diverges away from the source material.
The acting is solid all around with Tsutomu Yamazaki in the lead role of Hanawa Kazuichi giving a spellbinding performance of a man who truly looks content. Yoichi Sai’s direction while not overly stylish perfectly frames very moment without over emphasizing them. One problem most western audiences might have while watching the film is its use of comedy which like many foreign films often gets lost in translation.
The plot for Doing Time is simple as where are shown the everyday mundane activities of Hanawa Kazuichi and the various inmates he encounters. This prison is unlike any most western audiences have ever seen before as it has some of the strictest rules and basic things like going to the bathroom are not allowed unless you get permission. Watching the everyday lives of these inmates does become tedious as things become repetitive in the strict environment in which they live in. Ultimately Doing Time is an extraordinary tale about finding happiness no matter where you are.
Parlour Pictures presents Doing Time in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Colors look nicely saturated and accurate. Black levels are solid and details are razor sharp through out. There are no problems with compression, artifacts or edge enhancement. The source material used for this release is nearly flawless.
This release comes with one audio option the films original Japanese language track which is presented in a Dolby Digital stereo. Dialog is clear and easy to follow. There are no problems with hiss, distortion or any other sound defects. Removable English subtitles that are easy to follow and understand have been included.
Extras for this release consist of the films original trailer in Japanese with English subtitles, liner notes about the film written by Doug Jones and a twenty four page Manga base don the characters from the film.
Parlour Pictures is a new company who has quickly established themselves after only a handful of releases. Parlour Pictures gives Doing Time a solid audio/video presentation that is supplemented with a few interesting extras like the inclusion of the Manga, recommended.