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Original Title:

Japan 2000

Mystery, Horror

Shusuke Kaneko

Akiko Yada
Hideaki Ito
Ryuuji Harada
Masami Nagasawa
Yű Yoshizawa
Hidenori Tokuyama
Toshiyuki Nagashima
Kaori Momoi

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Cross Fire

aka Pyrokinesis

Story: Junko Aoki (Akiko Yada) has the supernatural skill of igniting things just with the power of her mind. Because she can't always control this power, she lives in seclusion as an outsider. However, at a company party she meets Tada Kazuki (Hideaki Ito) and they start to come closer. Junko also makes friends with Tada's sister Yukie.
When Yukie is killed on her way home by a group of juvenile serial killers, and the police soon has a suspect who has to be set free, because of his prominent father, Junko tells Tada her secret. She offers Tada, who is overcome by feelings of revenge, to take revenge for him. Because of her skills there wouldn't be any evidence and they could get away with it. Tada, nevertheless, starts to have moral doubts, while Junko isn't only taking revenge on her own, but is also contacted by a group of PSI-gifted youths with the name "Guardian", whose mission is to punish those who escaped the net of prosecution. Junko now isn't just pursued by the police, but also has to find out, that the goals of the "Guardian" aren't the ones they pretend...

Review: "Cross Fire" is a welcome alternation to the nowadays all too worn-out Japanese horror movie genre. Here, we don't get the typical tale about a ghost with long black hair, but instead a nice story is build up with great care, that convinces with its nicely drawn characters.
To be exactly, "Cross Fire" is no real horror movie, but more of a mystery-thriller with some drama and a nice love story. It's mainly thanks to director Shusuke Kaneko that this genre-mix works so well, although the actors did also do their part. With much confidence and a sense for character evolvement and story twists, he guides us through the movie. It seems unbelievable that of all the people he should be the one who should screw up the sequel to "Azumi", several years later.

The story about a girl that can ignite fire with her pure will might sound familiar since Stephen King's "Firestarter", but in my opinion has never been brought to screen in a better way than here. That is simply because "Cross Fire" makes the effort to draw characters with all their individualities, who in fact grow in the course of the movie. So it is easy for the viewer to identify with Junko and to feel the anger and despair, that push her into doing the things she feels she has to do.

Akiko Yada gives a great performance as Junko and is just as convincing as the shy girl, as she is as the raging firebug. Apart from her, the other actors are also doing a fine job. Especially Kaori Momoi has to be mentioned, who plays the somewhat aged Detective Ishizu with a lot of tics in her behaviour, and who is responsible for some really funny scenes, thanks to her sarcastic humor. Her partner, who informs her about pyrokinesis and who is one of the believers concerning supernatural abilities, strongly reminds us of Fox Mulder from "The X-Files", as he is getting the same mockery as the FBI-Agent did get. Additionally, he lost his brother when he was a child due to paranormal phenomenons! Despite of all parallels, his character shows enough individual characteristics to preserve him from being a cheap copy. Nevertheless, the strong mystery-aspect of the movie often reminds us of the mentioned american hit-series, which is of course a big thumb up.

At the beginning, the movie appears to be a cheap production, which is because of the bad chosen video material the movie was shot with. The rest of the production teaches us better and manages to hide this little deficit.
The action sequences are done quite well, the dialogues are interesting, the cuts raise the tension and some little stylistic tricks are used. too, like a camcorder to create a documental atmosphere at the crime scnenes.

Of course, it would have been fatal, if the fire effects in a movie like this would have looked ridiculous. Rest assured, "Cross Fire" easily manages with its effects to overshadow most of Hollywood Blockbusters. The mixture of CGI, good old FX-effects and Make-Up are at every moment convincing. The fire seems to be alive and looks impressive. And on top of that, there are also some innovative ideas that found their way into the movie. The scene when Junko has her first kiss and snowflakes are falling on her heat barrier which instanly are consumed by it, is a nearly poetic moment. Apart from these astonishing pictures, there are of course also a lot of people who are burning, melting, vaporizing and exploding in the most spectacular ways.

Beside Junko and her several inventive fire abilities, there are also some other supernaturally talented persons. One of the members of the "Guardian" is capable of forcing people into doing things, just by touching them, and Kaori can make telepathic contact with others, which makes the movie more colorful and reminds us a little bit of "X-Men".
Apart from these fantasy- and mystery-elements the movie does also work quite well as a drama about Junko's seclusion from society and her anger. The little love story is also pretty nice and thus the showdown does not only include some great display of fireworks with a lot of action, but also works as great emotional cinema.

The story of "Cross Fire" is interesting and has a lot of unexpected twists. After the rather slow exposition, the action soon kicks in and the viewer is bound to the screen until the ending credits. Great characters, superb special effects and nice action make this movie a clear recommendation, even for no-pyromaniacs!

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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