Doppelgänger (2003)

by | Jun 2, 2005 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Doppelgänger (2003)

Directed by: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Studio: Tartan Video TVUSD107
Video: Enhanced for 16:9 widescreen
Audio: DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, Japanese
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Extras: “Making Of” featurette, Interview with director, Tartan new releases, Theatrical trailer, TV spots
Length: 107 minutes
Rating: ***

Black comedy/horror/thriller would probably be the best summary of this
rather bizarre Japanese film. Two people are afflicted with the sudden
appearance of a twin who looks exactly like them but doesn’t act like
them. The focus is on a stressed-out research scientist who is working
for a large robotics company on an exoskeleton which is attached to a
wheelchair and intended to aid the paralyzed. At first he fears that
after seeing his double he will die, but when that doesn’t happen and
the doppelganger moves in with him begins to accept some of the
advantages.  For example, the twin, who is unprincipled and evil,
can do illegal and dangerous things to benefit the real scientist. The
opposing person finally becomes such a serious threat that the original
scientist kills him.  There are also two assistants in his
engineering work, one of them a would-be girlfriend. 

The concept is good but things drag out and the violence is not handled
in a  very believable or artistic manner. Some of the scenes of
the two opposite-personality  men  – both obviously played by
the same actor – are convincing. Yet others seem to be cutting corners
to save money and speed things up. There is one section of three-way
split screens with one man in the far left frame and the other one in
the far right, but both in same space.  It’s too clear what was
done and it becomes annoying quickly.  The Making Of featurette
goes into details about some of the special effects. The images are
dark much of the time, befitting the theme, but otherwise professional
though making minimal use of color, and the sound is good. An emphasis
on robotics is seen in many Japanese anime films and at times
Doppelganger takes on an anime sort of style. In spite of the dark and
threatening subject matter, the film sports an unexpectedly happy
ending, with the scientist and girl walking away from everything like
Chaplin and a friend in some of his silent classics. (Hope that doesn’t
spoil it for anybody…)

– John Sunier

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