Based on the true story of Iwao Enokizu (Ken Ogata) and his murderous rampage which sparked a 78-day nationwide manhunt, Shôhei Imamura’s disturbing gem Vengeance Is Mine [Fukushû suru wa ware ni ari] won every major award in Japan on the year of its release. Both seducing and repelling with its unusual story and grisly humour, Imamura uncovers a seedy underbelly of civilised Japanese society.
Unfolding through multiple flashbacks, Ogata delivers a career-defining performance as a day-labourer and smalltime con-artist who, after killing two of his co-workers, embarks on a psychopathic spree of rape and murder. Eluding the police and public, Japan’s infamous “King of Criminals” passes himself off as a Kyoto University professor, only to become entangled with an innkeeper and her perverted mother. Five years in the making, Vengeance Is Mine transcends the limitations of run- of-the-mill criminal studies by presenting a portrait of a killer imbued with a poignant, tragic banality.