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DVD Review

DVD cover



Starring: Hideo Sakaki and Tak Sakaguchi
Optimum Asia
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 18
Available 01 September 2008

For the brutal vengeance murder of his girlfriend's rapists, Tenshu is sentenced to die in the electric chair. Resigned to his fate and unmoved by his actions, he survives the lethal high voltage punishment. He is then given the choice to burn again, or take part in a vicious experiment pitting him against another prisoner and a mysterious alien life force. Here is where the true punishment begins...

After Tenshu's girlfriend is gang raped, Tenshu tracks down each member responsible and kills them brutally. Once his job is complete he turns on his girlfriend and kills her too. Arrested and convicted for his crimes Tenshu is sentenced to die by the electric chair. As the electricity passes through his body, he hardly feels it. He is informed that he is now legally dead - that all prisoners to be executed get this same chance. The first blast of electricity was a very weak voltage, but most inmates die from shock as they are expecting a high voltage. Tenshu now has a choice. He can either take part in a secret experiment and live, or he can be strapped back down and a much higher voltage of electricity can be passed through his body until he is dead.

Tenshu decides to live and the next thing he knows he's in a large room with one other convicted inmate. The two are told that they can ask for anything and, as long as it doesn't appear on the list of banned items, they can have it. Sadly, this list doesn't appear to be very long, as they are refused most things. As the experiment continues the two lab rats slowly start to unravel what they are there for.

Alive has a very promising beginning, but sadly this is a film that opens well and slowly limps towards it's slow, rather dull conclusion. It's not that it's a truly awful film, just that the whole reason for the experiment is a little silly and not really that interesting.

What could have been intriguing, like the events in Cube or even 1408, just turn out to be rather flat - which is a great shame when it takes so long to build up the suspense.

Extras include Making of Alive (26 min, 17 sec featurette that looks at various aspects of the movie); Interviews with director Ryuhei Kitamura (12 min, 14 sec), and actors Hideo Sakaki (9 min, 39 sec), Ryo (9 min, 52 sec) and Koyuki (9 min, 43 sec); Stills Gallery and Trailer.

If you've got a widescreen TV you won't be able to watch this so that the picture fills up the entire screen, as the subtitles are designed so that they are only visible if you watch it in a 4:3 aspect ration. If you try watching this in widescreen, the text will be off the bottom of the screen.

Alive has a lot going for it, but at the end of the day what starts as a promising sci-fi action packed thriller soon starts to drag until it reaches its long drawn out conclusion. While it was entertaining enough, I doubt I'd want to watch it again.


Nick Smithson

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