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Random 11

A London film that is mostly done in Japanese…and it’s by a Nigerian-born British director!

Random 11 is a very strange film.  Most of the film is in Japanese with English subtitles…yet it was filmed in London.  And, to make things weirder, the writer/director is a Nigerian-born Brit, Tony Ukpo!  That is certainly one of the most unusual pedigrees I have ever seen.  It’s also strange because when it ends, you learn that it’s only part 1—the conclusion is to come in a future effort.

The film is set in Japan.  A small task force headed by the brilliant and very young woman, Mitsuko (Haruka Abe) is trying to locate a bizarre and very repetitive serial killer.  So far, 11 people each time are found dead throughout the country and each appears to have killed themselves at the same time.  The man responsible for this is proud of his work and not only taunts the police but gives them clues as well—like it’s all some game.  While Mitsuko is very good as her job and seems to be able to peer into the mind of the killer (and reminds me a lot of Will Graham from the Hannibal TV show), she isn’t able to predict his actions completely—and the higher ups that the police force are losing patience with her.  After all, so far 22 people have died and they know more are coming.

Random 11
Written & Directed by Tony Sebastian Ukpo
Cast Haruka Abe, Junichi Kajioka, Vera Chok
Release Date 2011
Martin's Grade: B+

Mitsuko’s theory is that the killer is some sort of genius at hypnosis and can use these skills, somehow, to make people do his bidding—even if that means killing themselves.  While many people will no doubt find this pretty exciting, to me it’s problematic.  I am a retired psychotherapist with training in hypnosis.  Had I been able to use these powers for evil, you can pretty much bet I would have!  But often films greatly exaggerate hypnosis and make it seem almost magical—which took me out of the moment with the film.  Now this isn’t to say I hated the film—it is interesting and unusual in many ways.  It’s just that the hypnosis angle has been overdone in a lot of films and really makes little sense if you know much about its limitations—and there are many.

The final portion of the film is set in London, as the killer has inexplicably changes locales.  Mitsuko then is teamed with a British detective and they go in search of not just the killer but the folks they think might be his next victim.  The film ends with a confrontation between the killer (who seems to be a real fan of the female detective) and Mitsuko—at which point you see a message on the screen telling you to stay tuned for part two.

The film is generally engaging and well made.  A few times there are logical leaps (such as when the non-Japanese speaking lady is told by Mitsuko to go the information desk to request a car ride home….but she doesn’t speak the language as well as several times when Misuko’s deductions seemed too much out of left field).  But for fans of crime films, it’s well worth seeing and is different.

Review by Lead Entertainment Writer & Film Critic, Martin Hafer

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