Genre: Revenge Thriller
review in one breath
Thinking she had put her past behind her, Chisato is suddenly confronted by the men responsible for her humiliating rape years before. Their sheer disrespect for her slowly destroys the home, job and relationships she had built up for herself. With literally nothing else to lose, she gradually takes things into her own hands, exacting the revenge her merciless abusers deserve.
Director Ishii Takashi, who is credited with both directing and writing this film, is no stranger to the theme of females under extreme duress. His earliest work was as the author of the anime series of Angel Guts. This series was eventually converted into live-action versions, the fifth of which Ishii himself directed (Angel Guts: Red Dizziness).
The theme of Freeze Me is very similar to that of the Angel Guts series, and involves the psychological and physical struggle of a woman terrorized by rape and brutality. The uniqueness of Freeze Me (relative to Angel Guts) is the revenge motif which is perhaps one of two central elements in this story.
Chisato, the female victim, is effectively played by Inoue Harumi. Her role basically required three theatrical skills: (1) the ability to look utterly terrified throughout most the narrative, (2) the ability to wield large weapons such as mallets and bottles and endure being completely blood-splattered, and (3) great boobs. Okay, I guess that last one isn't really a theatrical skill, but it sure as heck was a requirement for the many sexy nude nude-sex scenes contained herein.
And an important note on that particular (nude/sex) aspect is the fact that Freeze Me never depicts rape or brutality in a sexualized or idealized manner. In fact, there is not even a rape scene contained in the film (except perhaps the recollection by Chisato of the original event). All of it is implied and off screen. Thus, all sex/nudity scenes involve consensual randiness between Chisato and her boyfriend. This is indeed a far (yet welcomed) departure from Ishii's earlier visions and depictions of rape in the Angel Guts series.
Several years after a humiliating rape instigated by a fellow classmate, Chisato Yamazaki has done well in reconstructing her life and happiness. She has a nice job in Tokyo with good co-workers, one of whom she has fallen in love with. She has a nice home in a Tokyo apartment complex and the future seems rife with possibility and hope.
But this idyllic scenario is shattered when the brutal former classmate shows up at her doorstep and forces his way into her home and daily routine. It seems that the worst of the three rapists is getting out of jail (for other crimes) and wanted to re-commit the rape, with all those originally there for old-time's sake. So they have tracked her down and have all agreed to meet at her home.
The degree of disrespect and control heaped upon Chisato is palpable as the former classmate waits for the others to arrive in the following days. Hoping to keep her lifestyle intact, Chisato attempts to go along with the threat while trying also to maintain her job and relationships. But this quickly proves impossible, as the thug seems bent on destroying everything of Chisato's, starting first with her employment (she is soon fired) and ending with her relationships (the boyfriend leaves her).
After having lost everything that she has built for herself and looking at only the prospect of having herself utterly sacrificed to the abusive lust of these repugnant men, Chisato begins to think differently, realizing the possibilities of literally fighting for herself.-- fighting and killing for herself.
But it proves incredibly difficult and dangerous to turn these imaginations of revenge into reality, resulting in a conclusion that will have audiences pondering what indeed was the better path.
This is a story about brutality and control. Though Ishii avoids scenes depicting graphic violence or brutality against Chisato, it is nevertheless very apparent that she is being traumatized and victimized to extreme degrees. Thus thematically, this is indeed mature content.
But the story is memorable and reflects Ishii's habitual exploration into the psychological impact of brutality upon the female victim. And here he follows through with his favorite theme, exemplified in the title "Freeze Me" which by film's end carries a poignant and metaphorical double meaning.
Though sad, shocking and dismal, I view Freeze Me as a more mature and satisfying foray into Ishii's "psychological duress" theme than accomplished in any of the Angel Guts series. Here the acting is convincing and the cast contemporary. All in all, this is an exciting and thought-provoking tale sure to cause some cringing among viewers.
Version reviewed: Region 1 subtitled DVD. Available through mainstream US venues.
|Director Ishii revisits his original Angel Guts theme of the psychological impact of rape.||Some rather realistic and desperate scenes of struggle to the death. Plently of splattering blood due to mallets and other large objects to the head.||Major BOOBAGE and sex scenes (all consensual). Inoue looks GREAT in the nude and was definitely the right girl for the "parts". heh.||It is interesting to see how Ishii has modified his depiction of this theme over the years. This is definitely the best of his attempts in this regard.|