Site Features
- Asian Film Awards
- Site Recommendations

- Reader Poll Results

- The Sponsor Page
- The FAQ Page
support this site by shopping at
Click to visit
Asian Blu-ray discs at
Year: 1997
Masato Hagiwara
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Producer: Tetsuya Ikeda, Satoshi Kanno
Cast: Koji Yakusho, Tsuyoshi Ujiki, Masato Hagiwara, Anna Nakagawa
The Skinny: Ordinary citizens in Tokyo are committing random acts of murder. The only similarity is that all the victims have an "X" carved into their necks. Each of the killers admit to their crime but remember nothing with regard to motive. During the investigation, Detective Takabe and Psychiatrist Sakuma discover that each of the murders has been in contact with a young man named Mamiya who suffers from severe amnesia. As the mystery unfolds, the connection between Mamiya and the crimes is established.

     The fact that Cure deals with psychological subject matter is ironic. The film is so expertly layered with themes and metaphors that it merits critical analysis rather than a simple review.
     The story revolves around Detective Takabe (Koji Yakusho) who spends most of his time caring for his mentally ill wife (Anna Nakagawa). Her symptoms include leaving the washing machine spinning while empty, and frequently getting lost on her way to familiar places. Takabe becomes obsessed with solving a recent outbreak of murders committed by seemingly upstanding citizens who have each carved an "X" into the necks of their victims. None of the perpetrators have denied responsibility, but Takabe is having difficulty establishing motive. All of the murderers appear to have been very calm during the act, and none of them remember what triggered them to kill in the first place.
     It turns out that a "trigger" is exactly what caused them to kill. A young man named Mamiya (Masato Hagiwara) is arrested near the scene of the latest murder and it is soon discovered that he is using hypnotic suggestion to manipulate people to kill.
Takabe's friend, psychiatrist Dr. Sakuma (Tsuyoshi Ujiki), tells Takabe that it is possible for such a thing to transpire only iif the person already possesses the capacity deep within themselves. This appears to be the main theme that Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa wanted to explore in Cure.
     Mamiya is a student of Psychology and in particular, the works of 19th Century hypnotist cum occultist Mesmer. After years of sequestered study and animal experimentation, Mamiya has finally unraveled the secret of Mesmer. Every time Mamiya hypnotizes someone, he asks them "Who are you?" He's like the ultimate therapist forcing people to touch the suppressed part of their psyche in order to "cure" them.
      Socially speaking, the overall effect of people breaking free from their repression is the breakdown of society, as apparently a great many people have the predilection to kill. Is Kurosawa saying that repression is a good thing? Perhaps. That's what makes Cure a modern masterpiece. It forces the viewer to think on a level much deeper than the run-of-the-mill thriller. The fact that most of the hypnotic triggers involve the natural elements of fire or water is another rich detail designed to illustrate the true nature of human kind.
     Mesmer lives on through Mamiya either symbolically or literally depending on how the viewer perceives Mamiya's amnesia. When Takabe is finally allowed to be alone with Mamiya the two bond in a strange sort of way. It's clear that Mamiya has used his hypnotic abilities on Takabe, but instead of making him kill, he chooses him for a purpose which is only revealed in the final scene of the film. Why does he choose Takabe? Is it because his wife suffers from an ailment similar to Mamiya's? Maybe. It's more likely because he's different. When Mamiya asks "Who are you?" Takabe doesn't shut down in a veil of denial like all the others before him. He opens up to Mayima and admits to him that his wife is a burden to him and that his life is full of frustration. Mamiya is fascinated by this (as he is by people in general since he can't remember his own identity) and the paths of the two men become parallel.
     Besides all the wonderful elements touched on here, there's also a lot of good acting, great visuals, and an incredibly creepy soundtrack. Cure just might compel you to "go in deeper" and search out more of Kyoshi Kurasawa's work. (Magicvoice 2002)

image courtesy of Cowboy Booking International Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen