An Obsession (1997) – By Duane L. Martin

An Obsession is the story of a detective named Saga who put work ahead of his wife and everything else in his life. It’s not until a cult leader is murdered and he’s shot and left for dead by the assassin that things really begin to fall apart for him. As his partner leaves him in the tunnel where he was shot so he can call for help, a man comes along and steals his gun as he lay there bleeding on the ground. And that was just the start of his troubles.

As he lay in the hospital, his wife Rie freaked out and decided to leave him since he wasn’t much of a husband. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he had to have one of his lungs completely removed because of the damaged caused by the bullet. All of this lead to him resigning from the police force and made him re-think his priorities. But there was one thing that haunted him. One piece of unfinished business that he had to take care of before he could finally move on with putting his life back together. He had to find his stolen gun. Why? Because the person who stole it was now using it to kill people.

An Obsession suffers from one really huge problem, and a few smaller ones as well. It’s biggest problem is that it’s way too long. Coming in at 109 minutes, this movie could have easily been cut down to around 85 minutes very easily. Now I’m not saying that a long movie is a bad thing. However, a movie that is abnormally long because it’s filled with long scenes or people walking or sitting around reflecting on life or whatever, basically makes the film drag. Very little of any importance happened in the first twenty or so minutes of this film, and as I sat there watching it, I kept wondering if it was building up to something or if the whole thing was going to be like that.

The acting in this film was fine, but the whole storyline with the dying man who steals his gun and his lover who wants to be killed by him in a murder suicide wasn’t very well written or played out. That whole part of the story made little to no sense, and unfortunately that wasn’t the only thing in this film that didn’t. There were other scenes where you sit there wondering why the people were either acting or reacting the way they were to various things. There’s even one scene later on in the movie where Saga has a flat out brawl with his ex-partner for no apparent reason. I’m still trying to figure out where that came from.

Then there’s the ending. The final scene in this movie after the cop gets his gun back has to be one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen put to film. He walks out of this ballpark where he just watched the killer and his girlfriend commit a murder suicide. He’s got his gun back. You’d think he’d be all somber and what not. For some reason, he starts jumping around like an idiot (another extended scene that was way too long), and then fininshes off by pointing his gun at the camera before the credits roll. I was sitting here watching it and all I could think was like, "huh?"

Still, as much as it sounds like it, I can’t say I hated this movie. Often when a movie suffers from this many problems, I find myself wanting to take it out, put it back in the box, and pretend it never existed. In this case though, I can’t say that. Despite it’s problems, this actually was a well shot, well edited and well acted movie. I can’t say it was overly well written, but it’s not so bad when looked at as a whole rather than looking at individual elements. As a whole, An Obsession actually kind of falls into that "pretty good" category. It could have been better with tighter editing and a better ending, but it really wasn’t that bad. It also didn’t suffer from the common ending that many of these types of Japanese films seem to be addicted to where something horrible happens to the main character or someone close to him at the end. That in and of itself was a refreshing change.

So should you see it? If you’re into artsy kinds of Japanese films with a character driven story, then yes you should see it. It’s really a pretty decent film despite all of the issues I mentioned.

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