NOTE:Although this Japanese Import DVD is NTSC, it is coded for playback in Region 2 only. In order to watch this disc, you'll have to have either a player coded for Region 2, or a Region Free DVD Player.
Sakuma (Japanese television star Naohito Fujiki) is an employee at an advertising firm who really does try pretty hard at his job. When his boss Katsuragi (played Ryo Ishibashi of Moon Child and Juon – The Grudge cancels his latest project, one that he's invested no small amount of hard work into, he decides to head to Katsuragi's house and teach him a lesson. On the way there, or more aptly once he reaches the front gate, he cools off enough to realize that maybe revenge isn't such a great idea and then he sees Katsurugi's daughter, Chiharu (Yukie Nakama recently of Shinobi). Not quite sure what to make of what he's just seen, he trails the lovely young lady until he finally approaches her. They hit it off and he decides to let her stay with him for a while and as they get to know one another, they decide to scam her father by exacting a complicated and completely fake kidnapping scheme.
As the two put their plan into motion and more and more details are revealed, we soon learn that no one in the film is being completely honest with anyone else and that there's a whole lot more to both Sakuma's side of things and Chihura's side of things. To complicate matters further, Katsuragi might know more about what's going on than anybody even realizes in the first place - everything soon becomes about control, manipulation, and greed despite the fact that both the 'kidnapper' and the 'abductee' are obviously falling for each other.
Filled with enough twists, turns and red herrings to keep you guessing as to some of the characters' true motivations, G@me is a fun thriller even if it could have been a whole lot more. The main problem with the film is Naohito Fujiki's performance, or lack there of. While he certainly looks slick enough that we can believe the gorgeous Chiharu would fall for him and he does have an attractive demeanor to him in the movie, he's got all the enthusiasm of a rock and he seems to be walking through the movie rather than actually trying to emote or convince anyone with his acting. He's got the look down pat but sadly that isn't really enough. Thankfully, G@me has Yukie Nakama to fall back on. She springs a sense of spunky immaturity to her performance, she's a complete and utter brat and wants nothing more than to piss off her dad and she nails it. She's also drop dead gorgeous and even if she acts like a pre-pubescent little diva, it's hard not to get sucked in by her charms. Seeing her in this film, it's very easy to understand why her star is on the rise in her native Japan, as she's fun to look at and fun to watch.
The script, written by Keigo Higashino and based on his own novel does get a little muddy in spots as double cross after double cross is made apparent but if you're willing to stick with it G@me proves to be enjoyable and slickly made. Some of the cinematography is quite interesting, ranging from claustrophobic to almost placid in spots, while the finale leads way to some well executed action set pieces that work well in the context of the story.
G@me looks pretty good in this 1.85.1 anamorphic transfer that benefits from strong black levels and a nice level of both foreground and background detail. The colors look just a little on the flat side but skin tones do appear lifelike and natural throughout the duration of the film. Mpeg compression artifacts are never a problem even during the darker moments of the movie while edge enhancement and aliasing never get out of hand even when they do show up briefly in spots.
This release contains audio mixes available in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. Optional English subtitles are included (for the feature only) that do a pretty good job of translating the film and that don't contain any noticeable typographical errors save for the odd awkward phrase here and there. Regardless of which track you choose (the 5.1 gets the slight edge for better channel separation and more distinct placement in certain scenes) you should be pretty happy with the results. The dialogue is crisp, clean and clear and there are no problems at all with hiss or distortion. Surround usage on the 5.1 mix is great, and quite active at times but more subtle and quiet when it needs to be, nothing feels too over the top or out of place and the dialogue is always clean. Bass levels could have been a bit stronger but other than that this disc sounds good.
Unfortunately, none of the extra features on this DVD contain any English subtitles, though that isn't really surprising considering that it's meant for a Japanese audience (though the menu is in English). The disc contains a documentary entitled Behind The G@me that contains just under fifteen minutes worth of behind the scenes footage and interviews with the cast members. A featurette entitled TV Special Program is roughly half an hour long and it contains some more interviews, some press conference footage and clips from the film in it. There are also two trailers and two television spots provided.
Also included inside the packaging is an insert booklet containing information about the film and the performers as well as some pictures (again, it's all in Japanese).
A decent thriller with a few fun twists, G@me looks and sounds pretty good on this import DVD and despite the fact that the extra features don't have any subtitles, the movie itself is quite well done making this one recommended for foreign film/mystery/crime movie fans.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.