Doppelgänger (aka Dopperugenga) DVD Review
Reviewed by Peter West
DVD released by Tartan Video USA
Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Written by Ken Furusawa & Kiyoshi Kurosawa
2003, Region 1 (NTSC), 107 minutes, Not rated
DVD released January 25th, 2005
Kôji Yakusho as Michio Hayasaki
Hiromi Nagasaku as Nagai Yuka
Yusuke Santamaria as Kimishima
Masahiro Toda as Aoki
Hitomi Sato as Takano
Nagai Yuka sees her brother at a store and is surprised when arriving home that he got there before her. Even more shocking is the phone call she receives that her brother has just been found dead. When Nagai checks for her brother again he is missing. She theorizes that her brother saw his doppelganger and killed himself because of it.
The story now shifts to Michio Hayaski, a timid scientist who is struggling with his latest invention. Successful with an earlier one Michio is facing the possibility that his company may drop the funding for the project. A chair with remote controlled arms to act as the arms of a paralyzed person, maybe Michio has taken on more of a project than he can handle? After a heart to heart talk with his supervisor, Michio is at his wits end!
Suddenly Michio is confronted with his own doppleganger. Trying not to look at it, Michio finds the doppleganger is curious about him. Possessing personal qualities that Michio doesn't have or is afraid to admit to, the doppelganger destroys Michio's laboratory and steals the chair, bringing it back to Michio's apartment. Michio and the doppleganger come to a understanding on completion of the project, with the doppleganger doing what Michio can't bring himself to do.
After being referred by his office assistant to Nagai who is being haunted by her brother's doppleganger, Michio enlists her help in understanding how to deal with his own. As time goes by the doppleganger is enjoying his life and Michio is afraid that the doppleganger has plans on taking complete control of his life!
I was a little surprised when watching Doppelganger considering Kurosawa's reputation that it was not a horror film. I would describe it as more of a thriller/dark comedy. This was the director's intent as I found watching the interview with him. Putting that aside, Doppelganger is a thinking man's thriller. There were things that I was able to pick up with multiple viewings that I did not catch the first time I watched it.
The story behind the story is that we all have qualities to do what it takes to accomplish something, but we don't because we are either afraid to do them or it may be morally wrong. In Michio's case, it is both. While not a very violent or gory film, Doppelganger does have it's moments! Doppelganger is an above average thriller which keep you guessing on what is going to happen next. I've purposely held off on screenshots that may reveal too much, so it's your guess on who will win this battle of good versus evil!
Video and Audio:
Shot on DV, Doppleganger is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The digital effects are seamlessly integrated into the film because of being shot digitally. While I am fonder of "real" film, Doppelganger is a excellent example of this ever popular method. The picture is absolutely outstanding! I am finding more and more that Asian Horror is now being shot on DV, so putting my own preferences aside I'm not going to detract from my rating.
Doppelganger has Dolby 5.1 and 2.0 Japanese language soundtracks and just as Tartan USA's release of Phone, it has a DTS 5.1 soundtrack. I've just learned Tartan's next three releases will also include DTS soundtracks. Now why can't American studios do this? The Hayashi Yusuke score flows evenly through the film and compliments the action well.
Doppelganger is loaded with extras! A making of featurette that includes interviews with the cast, a separate interview with director Kiyoshi Kurosawa provide great insight into the film and it's production. There's also trailers and TV spots, as well as trailers for upcoming Tartan Asia Extreme releases. English and Spanish subtitles are also included.
Films that Peter West reviews are played on a Pioneer Elite DV-47Ai DVD player, viewed on a Mitsubishi WS-55413 HDTV and listened to on a THX certified Pioneer Elite VSX-55TXi A/V Receiver through a 7.1 setup of JBL Northridge E series Speakers.