Deep Contact Review
It stands to reason that if a bloody great asteroid comes plummeting toward our planet, people around the world will probably call it a day and enjoy what time they have left. Is it worth waiting around for the leaders in our global defense to come up with some comet-shattering missile, or should we just heed to frivolous sex and hope that free love will heal all, just like the hippies said it would? Regardless, both are pretty out there, but let’s go with the latter shall we, because that’s exactly what Deep Contact does.
The story follows Wataru (Kazushi Ikeda), who having failed to pay off a huge debt, is kidnapped off the streets and taken to a research institution where he’s introduced to its chief of staff Dr. Ohora (Seiji Nakamitsu). He quickly learns from the good doctor that a comet is on a collision course toward Earth, which confirms Wataru’s conspiracy theories of government cover-ups all along. In a bid to combat this threat, Dr. Ohora and his ace team have been harnessing the power of sexual psycho-kinesis as part of a United Nations secret project. Enter Ohora’s most promising candidate: Ikuko (Riri Kuramoto), whose orgasms are so intense that she can lift heavy objects. But for some reason, Ohora needs Wataru to “aid” her in leading a team whose mission is to have sex for mankind. Can their combined acts of lust prevent total annihilation?
The disaster movie is a thing of morbid fascination isn’t it? For decades audiences have lapped up images of people being crushed under highways, flame-grilled in lava spills, or drowning in perpetual waters, with the steady advancements in technology helping immeasurably to realize the devastating effects of our grumpy mother nature. I’m not sure exactly why we’re entertained by the sheer spectacle of our planet tearing itself apart or succumbing to other outside threats, but nevertheless they’ve continued to serve as epic escapes from certain foreseeable realities: movies with universally similar themes about mankind coming together to face insurmountable odds and proving that the triumph of the will is more awesome than the elemental forces that we have next to no control over...or aliens with big guns for that matter.
Deep Contact (a.k.a. Pink Salon Hospital 2: No Pants Nurse) hastily rode on the success of 1998’s Hollywood disaster blockbuster Deep Impact, in a year which also saw Bruce Willis take to the stars in Michael Bay’s equally turgid Armageddon. With an effects budget of about 40 pence it would be easy to write off Yukio Kitazawa’s loose science fiction parable, which conjures up similar sentiments as the aforementioned movies and beyond, but for obvious reasons fails to match their scope. However, it does what it does without any great pretension or sickliness; purportedly the first SF Pink Eiga, it naturally places a lot of its priorities elsewhere, whilst maintaining emphasis on fun.
Non-conventional in a sense that Deep Contact rarely shows any kind of impending destruction or global happenings (it literally can’t afford to), director Yukio Kitazawa attempts to bolster the tale of one man charged with leading an orgy of sex maniacs in a bid for freedom by establishing a futuristic scenario. Capitalising on the then-expansion of the Japanese seaport Odaiba, the feature works considerably well in adding a little extra bang for buck thanks to some dreamy framework which sets a tone for some of the script’s generally predictable musings. But much of the feature is an enclosed affair in which characters are guided through lengthy hallways and partake in a bit of hanky panky in patient wards. Kitazawa’s direction is lively: the sex scenes are impressively staged thanks to some fine single-take tracking shots and daring snippets, while there are additional moments of inspiration to be found in the realization of our lead heroine’s psycho-kinetic powers. The performances are energetic and humour is often used to solid effect during these moments, seeing the film take on a bawdy seventies romp guise. While the sheer amount of bonking overrides much of the feature’s central message, one can’t help but be charmed by this distinctly absurd and rare genre-bender.
Pink Eiga’s letterboxed presentation - to sound like a broken record - is an all-too-familiar sight, marred by lack of progressive playback, aliasing, ringing and minor compression artefacts. However, for a film of twelve years old it looks better than some of the more recent features put out by the company. Detail is relatively good - close ups fare very well, with most softness coming from wide angles and an intentional soft-focus for the more intimate encounters. Colour balance is acceptable; there’s a warm tone across the board, which is mostly fine except for colour bleed being quite detrimental to reds and oranges.
The Japanese DD2.0 mix is decent enough, with no distortion problems, while the hard-matted English subtitles provide an error free translation. They may, however, irk some viewers in that a few liberties have been taken with localization. There are some instances of overt swearing which appears a little awkward than perhaps intended during mere shots of cheering, and a few gags have been re-worked while trying to stay to true to the spirit of the feature.
Pink Eiga do themselves proud by including some worthwhile bonus material. First up is a cast and crew video commentary, featuring Director Yukio Kitazawa; Writer/Producer Akira Fukuhara; and actors Motoko Sasaki and Seiji Nakamitsu. It’s an informative piece, being both nostalgic in flavour for its participants and providing lots of little facts with regards to budgetary constraints and shooting. There are some lengthy moments where little is expressed, but it’s still a fun piece and it’s always great to see Pink Eiga recognise talent from the industry and introduce them to more unfamiliar western audiences.
Following on from this is a twelve minute interview with Yukio Kitazawa. This shares the typical template of most Pink Eiga interviews, with the director discussing his beginnings, becoming inspired by the Pink industry and subsequently going on to discuss the film itself. Although he does go over some of the same ground covered in the video commentary, he does provide further insights only found here. He goes into a bit more detail regarding the film’s title and script and also speaks of the challenges in making a science fiction film shot on a shoestring budget. There is also some talk on acting and camera techniques.
Also included on the disc are the obligatory biographies for Director Yukio Kitazawa and actors Seiji Nakamitsu, Motoko Sasaki and Myu Asou; a photo gallery and a look at the original poster art, and finally international version trailers.