2LDK (2002) – By Duane L. Martin

Shinya Kawai gave directors Yukihiko Tsutsumi and Ryuhei Kitamura a challenge. That challenge was called the Duel Project, the premise of which was that each director had one week to shoot a feature length film featuring only two actors in a single setting that ultimately resulted in the two actors battling to the death. Ryuhei Kitamura’s entry into this challenge was called Aragami which takes place in ancient Japan and involves a samurai and a goblin named Aragami in a temple. It’s a far different time and place than Yukihiko Tsutsumi’s entry, 2LDK, which takes place in an lavishly decorated Tokyo apartment and involves two actresses from distinctly different backgrounds who have been sent to live there together by the agency they work for. This apartment is the origin of the film’s title 2LDK. 2LDK stands for 2 bedroom, living room, dining room and kitchen.

Nozomi, played by the extremely pretty Eiko Koike, is a down home kinda girl who’s really into the theater and theatrical acting but she’s just starting to break into the film industry and she’s going for her first major film role as a yakuza wife. Her roommate Lana, played by Maho Nonami, is a city girl, street smart actress who the agency hooked up with Nozomi in hopes that she would pick up some of those street smarts. Unfortunately, Lana is also up for the part of the yakuza wife, and the decision has come down between the two of them.

So with the two of them thrust into an exotically decorated apartment together, the slow burn begins. Throughout sceneafter scene we get to hear the inner thoughts each girl has about the other, and irritation after irritation finally builds into a violent confrontation that’s both darkly humorous and incredibly intense.

I have to give credit to Eiko Koike and Maho Nonami for living through what had to be at least several days of hell during the shooting of the fight scenes. See, this film was shot sequentially over the course of eight days, which meant that because of the schedule, the cast and crew often had to work right through the night, but these girls hung in there and gave top notch performances. I also have to give major kudos to Yukihiko Tsutsumi for using the slow burn, which is a plot technique you don’t see all that often anymore. The whole movie is written to build from mild irritation to a massively violent climax in such a smooth way that you never really feel the jump from one stage of irritation to the next. It all just blends together in one smoothly developing storyline that will have you both smiling and saying to yourself, “Oh crap!”

I have yet to see Ryuhei Kitamura’s entry into the Duel Project, but after seeing this film, I’m definitely looking forward to it. If you like hot girls, dark humor, and great violence, then this film is definitely worth checking out, and in fact, to get a complete view of the project and to make your own decision about who made the better film, you should check out both director’s projects, as I plan to. When I do see the second film, you’ll find the review right here in Rogue Cinema.