1998 was the peak of his “Big Bang” years, in terms of the number of works released and his explosive beauty. In addition to 4 movies and a few TV dramas, he also played Hamlet with Ninagawa. Sanada-san in 1998 has a special aura that makes me chill. Among his 1998 movies, D-zaka is my top favorite, in which Sanada’s beauty and elegance are fully exploited, and I got totally glued to this erotic mystery.
The story is based on a novel by a renowned mystery writer Ranpo Edogawa (1894-1965). Fukiya is asked to make the counterfeit of some legendary erotic art works. After some struggles, he successfully forges the paintings with himself as a model. When he finds out that his client was the model of the original painting, he kills her because to eliminate the original work is his usual practice. Detective Kogoro Akechi, Edogawa series’ main character, steps in to solve this murder case.
Sanada-san is perfectly beautiful in this movie. If you watch it, you know what I mean by “beautiful”. Not only his look, but every inch of his moves is so sophisticated and elegant. Here, again, he does not speak much and it works to elevate the tension level in the movie.
And he is an erotic machine. In the highlight scene, where he dresses himself with women’s kimono, ties himself up with ropes and put on heavy make-ups to become his own model, he is on the borderline of beautiful and grotesque, which makes the scene so high-tension and erotic.
You have to put up with some obscenity, which are not exactly related to the main story but nonetheless important to set the tone of this movie. The sceneries are aesthetic and the movie overall is well made and artistic. The scenery of 1920’s Tokyo is expressed with elaborate paper crafts, which also helps to create mysterious atmosphere, and the lighting work with heavy contrast of shadows is well done as well. Don’t get bothered too much by R-rated scenes by others and enjoy the beauty of Sanada-san in full bloom.