Vote: 7/10 Original title: ??? , exit: 07-12-2022. Director: Takashi Miike. Seasons: 1.
12/18/2022 tv series review ??? Of Mark German
The prolific director adapts a webtoon for the small screen, amalgamating many genres in his own way to create a deliciously macabre hybrid, but not for the sake of it
The Japanese director Takashi Miike may be famous for being ultra-prolific, but is also historically a destabilizer, who often adopts a punk and transgressive approach to the genres that he gradually finds himself handling. If the last work of him, Eye for an eye (Connect), proves to be a surprise, it is not so much for the ‘predictable’ reasons – the presence of sadistic murders, gay mafiosi, geysers of blood, hints of an extravagant and deviated sexuality, typical aspects of body horror – deduced from presence in many of his other works of the past.
Nor is its status as a television series (for now in 6 parts), as the 62-year-old from Yao has previously directed episodes of the TV show about teen vampires Tennen shojo Man (1999), of yellow MPD Psycho (2000) and tokusatsu Ultraman Max (2005), as well as contributing individual segments to a number of made-for-TV anthologies, including the controversial Imprint for the ‘Masters of Horror’ (2006).
The real surprise of An eye for an eye is that such ‘obscene’ themes and such ‘perverse’ ideas are offered in streaming and exclusively on Disney+. Given the concerns of many, it is healthy to see the horizons of the entertainment multinational broaden once again, to try to satisfy even a more mature audience of subscribers.
An eye for an eye – which fits the namesake webtoon south korean by Shin Dae-sung – opens with Ha Dongsoo (Jung Hae-in) who walks in a dark urban alley and looks at the full moon, to which he dedicates a song.
If this might remind you of the woman’s similar gesture to the moon at the beginning of Un Chien Andalou (1929) by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, then you were right, because Dongsoo too is about to lose an eye to a blade, setting the tone for all sorts of surreal events that will follow.
Indeed, as soon as our hero is kidnapped by a gang of ‘organ harvesters’ and quartered by a black market surgeon who severs both his eyes and also his innards, his body magically reassembles itself and he begins to flee, leaving behind , in haste, only the right eye.
Not long after, Dongsoo realizes that he is able, when listening to the song he was singing, to see from the point of view of the recipient of his missing eye – and as his efforts to locate this man, Oh Jinseop (Ko Kyung-pyo), may even begin as a simple hunt to recover the lost organ, he soon realizes that Jinseop is the brutal serial killer who is leaving ‘artistic’ corpses all over Seoul.
Meanwhile, both the gang of organ hunters and the police – including the witty detective Choi (Kim Roi-ha), whose insights may derive from his shamanic ancestry – hunt Dongsoo, while a mysterious figure named Lee Irang (Kim Hye-jun) keeps stepping in to help him, and a pharmaceutical company is hiding in the shadows up to something.
“A new kind of human, born as the freak of the century,” Irang tells Dongsoo at one point. “The ‘connect’ is the neo-human”. In this series, ‘connect’ is in fact the term used to define ‘monsters’ such as Dongsoo, whose miraculous regenerative powers make them immortal – even if this term takes on much wider resonances in a series that mix different genres (serial killer thrillers, gangster movies, procedurals, mutant superheroes) into a monstrous hybrid.
Like a modern-day Dr. Frankenstein, Takashi Miike stitches together elements of The Eyes of Laura Mars (1978) by Irvin Kershner, Face/Off (1997) by John Woo, The Eye (2002) by the Pang brothers, Zodiacs (2007) by David Fincher, Jack’s house (2018) by Lars von Trier e The Witch – Part 2 (2022) by Park Hoonjung, while drawing liberally from his period fantasy The Immortal of 2017 (the review), all in the service of creating a hitherto unreleased mash-up.
At the heart of an eye for an eye is in any case the story of two different monsters: one who desperately seeks immortality through his perverted art, and another who has had a far more literal immortality imposed upon him.
As these two look and study each other, each craving for something the other already has, Takashi Miike it highlights their contrasts and, occasionally, their similarities. The dialectic that emerges between a worker who only wants to integrate and a narcissistic white collar who instead wants the world to bend to his perverse will paradoxically brings together twin perspectives from the same eye, while the joint destinies of these two men will bring consequences that are not only personal , but also unthinkable policies.
Not bad for a serial product finished in the catalog without too much media hype.
Find below the international teaser trailer (with Italian subtitles) of An eye for an eye, in the Disney+ catalog from 17 December:
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Source: BFI extension
An eye for an eye: Takashi Miike’s Korean horror series review (on Disney+)