I said I’d report back when I had seen Mun Chairudo, and finally I am making good on that promise. Gackt’s and Hyde’s vehicle is a slick and beautiful film about gangsterism and vampirism and the futility of a life led in the misguided pursuit of power. It is also a classic “buddy” pic, valorizing the homosocial love between its pretty protagonists while other relationships, particularly those with women, are relegated to the back burner. The film is neither an acting nor a writing tour de force, but it is visually engaging—not just because of the bishonen (squee!) but because of its attention to light and shadow and its reliance on image as much as dialogue or action to drive the story forward.
Mun Chairudo’s other interesting quality is the way it addresses multiculturalism (and the fear of it) for a nation that is nearly homogeneous. Mallepa the fictional town in which the action takes place is an amalgamation of several Asian cultures, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc., sprinkled with the odd American/European. These cultures don’t merge into an idealistic melting pot; they remain distinct, even to their languages, and gangs representing each ethnicity battle to control territory and economic resources. In some respects, this might speak to the Japanese fear of the foreign, or perhaps a pan-Asian distrust of the other. The relationships formed between cultures ultimately fall apart as somehow, old grudges overcome both loyalty and reason. It’s funny that Koreans can’t get along with the Japanese, and the Chinese can get along with neither, but Sho (Gackt) can get along with the vampire Kei (Hyde) just fine and so can everyone else. That’s just the charm of the undead, I guess.
Check out other reviews of this film, though. Some people called the imagery overdone, and it’s true that there are a lot of missed thematic opportunities, but often the very things they hated were things I thought gave the film a postmodern and artful quality. Whether you buy into the premise or not, this film is a must see just for the cinematography.
The film and the boys are just too pretty.