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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Kagi-dorob˘ no mesoddo" )


directed by Kenji Uchida
Japan 2012


After failing to hang himself, lonely, out-of-work actor Sakurai (Masato Sakai, THE CASTLE OF CROSSED DESTINIES) finds an opportunity to shed his identity at the local bathhouse when he switches lockers with stranger Kondo (Teruyuki Kagawa, TOKYO SONATA) who has slipped on a bar of soap and hit his head. Sakurai quickly becomes guilt-ridden over taking Kondo's identity until he discovers that Kondo has amnesia. Thinking he is Sakurai, Kondo is released from the hospital and tries to piece his identity back together (under the impression that he is a suicidal failed actor) with the help of good samaritan Kanae (Ry˘ko Hirosue, DEPARTURES), a magazine editor who is searching for a husband in time for the wedding she has scheduled in two months. In the meantime, Sakurai has not only discovered that Kondo was a hitman, but that he is now expected to finish up an assignment from mobster Kudo (Yoshiyoshi Arakawa) to dispose of the mistress - Ayako (Y˘ko Moriguchi, CASSHERN) - of his previous victim after finding out where she is hiding the money her lover embezzled. Kondo recovers his memory just in time to help Sakurai who has run afoul of Kudo by hatching an escape plan for Ayako. Kanae also involves herself in the deadly cat-and-mouse game which will requires the performance of the men's respective careers in order to get out of it alive.

Although a rather cliched intertwining story of two lives (Hirosue has an equal amount of screentime as her two male co-stars but her character arc has little effect on the narrative), KEY OF LIFE is consistently funny and sweet without being maudlin. It gets some refreshing mileage out of the switched identities of the hitman (or Mr. Fixit) and the actor by demonstrating how much acting is not only required of Kondo's line of work but also for Sakurai to be able to maneuver his way through it; similarly, Kondo responds to his inability to recover his memories of his assumed identity by studying acting as much to work as to try to perform the identity he thinks belongs to him. The resolution ends up holding no real surprises, but the characters are likable enough for tidy resolution to be satisfying.

Eric Cotenas


Theatrical Release: 15 September 2012 (Japan)

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DVD Review: Film Movement - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Film Movement

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 2:08:16

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.49 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1; Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles English, English (CC), none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Film Movement

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 1:29)
• Biographies
• 2011 short film 'Finale' (Balazs Simonyi, 16:9; 8:00)
• Trailers for 'The Deflowering of Eva Van End', 'The Iran Job', 'Three Worlds', 'The Piano in a
• Factory', 'The Drummer', and 'The Man of the Year'
• About Film Movement (text)

DVD Release Date: January 7th, 2014

Chapters 12



Film Movement's dual-layer disc features a progressive, anamorphic encoding of this 35mm-photographed/2K-mastered production that can be a bit flat but is free of distracting artefacts despite many night and interior scenes where the colors and detail are deliberately murky. The Japanese 5.1 and 2.0 downmix tracks are very dialogue driven but punctuated by bursts of Mozart and Beethoven as well as the occasional loud sound effect (only getting particularly playful during the ricocheting soap scene early on as well as bits demonstrating one character's inability to drive a stick-shift). There are no extras specific to the film besides the trailer and some text biographies, but the reverse of the cover includes a paragraph about why the film was chosen by Film Movement and a brief statement from the director about his inspiration for the film (also pointing out the musical motifs for the three characters). Six trailers are selectable from a sub-menu but the first three also appear as start-up trailers.

  - Eric Cotenas


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Film Movement

Region 1 - NTSC


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