Sunday, March 30, 2008


Death Note (デスノート)

Death Note (デスノート) What would you do if you have the power over other human beings? This seems a never ending subject that fascinates us. Base on a popular comic series (which I have not read), Japanese sci-fi thriller "Death Note (デスノート)" (Japan 2006, 126 min.) entertains this scenario with interesting protagonists and gripping plots.

Light Yagami is an extremely intelligent law student who is frustrated about the justice system's failing on some criminal cases. On a rainy night, a notebook dropped from the sky in front of him—the "Death Note" from Ryuk, God of Death (死神). Surprisingly, the death note is written neither in Japanese nor some strange languages, but in English. It instructs Light that if he writes somebody's name on the notebook, that person dies. Advanced deaths can be also scheduled like in a calendar, and methods of death can also be specified. Now Light has got the power.

Light uses this super power on the criminals first. As expected, criminals around the world are dropping dead like flies. He is cheered by the public and given a name Kira. However, the government treats Kira as a serial killer. The hunting for Kira is led by an equally intelligent young man named "L," who looks like he has been doing nothing in the last few days but playing video games and eating sweets. A dazzling catch-me-if-you-can game begins that fills with wits and excitements.

L in Death Note

Although at the beginning, the film raises philosophical questions about the justification for killing criminals using the death note, the morality aspect never becomes the main focus of the film. Instead, the mind game between Kira and L takes the center stage, which is truly entertaining and well executed in the film.

Like "Kill Bill," this film is the first part of the two volumes, I wish that they were played back to back. Now I am so eager to see what happens next in "Death Note: The Last Name." No matter what happens, I hope Kira will write the name "Hollywood" on that death note to prevent Hollywood from remaking these two films.

"Death Note (デスノート)" was shown at the 26th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF).


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