Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 3rd, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, January 6th, 1992
Director: Ryû Murakami
Writer: Ryû Murakami
Cast: Miho Nikaido, Sayoko Amano, Tenmei Kano, Kan Mikami, Masahiko Shimada, Yayoi Kusama, Chie Sema, Hiroshi Mikami
DVD released: August 5th, 2008
Approximate running time: 112 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Japanese
DVD Release: Cinema Epoch
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.98
Synopsis: A young woman filled with self loathing after losing her man to another woman tries to numb her pain while working as an S&M escort.
Tokyo Decadence was written and directed by novelists Ryû Murakami. Many of his novels have been adapted to film with the most memorable adaptation being Takaski Miike’s Audition. The plot for Tokyo Decadence centers around a young woman named Ai who works a call girl who specializes in S&M. Ai is a truly fascinating character even though the plot is essentially built up around a series of Ai sexual encounters that include sparse exchanges of dialog. Visually Ryû Murakami nearly flawless direction juxtaposition’s images of Tokyo’s bright vibrant outer decor with the darkness that engulfs Ai in the dim lit rooms where she performs her sexual acts.
Miho Nikaido’s riveting performance as Ai is this films greatest asset. Through her convincing performance one cannot but help feel the pain and suffering that Ai is going through. Ai downward descent started at the hands of a lover who rejected her for another woman. Her ultimate goal is regain the love that she has lost. Everyone in Ai’s life uses her and her relationship with another call girl named Saki proves to the most destructive of all. The score was written by Ryuichi Sakamoto (The Last Emperor). The Sex/S&M scenes are not erotic even though they do tend to border on the explicit at times. The downward spiral of the films central character Ai is a dark depressing journey that many will find difficult to stomach. Ultimately Tokyo Decadence is an unflinching tale about loneliness and isolation.
Tokyo Decadence is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. This is the first anamorphic transfer for with the previous U.S. releases from Image Entertainment (slightly letterboxed) and First Run features (Full Frame). Both of these releases presented an image that looks too tight. Cinema Epoch’s transfer looks a tad soft during the films nighttime/darker moments. During brighter/daylight scenes the image looks crisp and clear. Colors look nicely saturated and flesh tones look accurate. The source used for this transfer is very clean with no noticeable print damage. There are some mild instances of edge enhancement which is for the most part kept in check. Overall this transfer is an improvement upon the two previous U.S. DVD releases.
This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital stereo mix in Japanese. Removable English subtitles that are error free and easy to follow have been included. There are no problems with hiss, distortion or any other audio defects. There are some instances where the dialog sounds too thin. Overall this is a clean audio track that does an adequate job presenting the films soundtrack.
Extras for this release include a letterboxed trailer for the film (in Japanese with English subtitles), a stills/lobby card/poster gallery (26 images), an extensive text essay about the film written by film critic Nicholas Rucka and an eight minute segment titled interview. The first five minutes of this clip is a promo for the film that includes clips from the film and quotes from critics who praised the film. The last three minutes are footage from the film’s wrap up party. Also included with this release is promo gallery of titles that are available on DVD from Cinema Epoch. Cinema Epoch’s DVD release like the previous DVD releases of Tokyo Decadence is the films 112 minute version. There are rumors of a mythical 135 minute version that has yet to surface on DVD. Overall while this is not the definitive release of Tokyo Decadence that fans have longed for it is still a satisfying release that gives fans of Ryû Murakami who missed this film on its previous DVD releases a chance to see his masterpiece Tokyo Decadence.