Cure (film)

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Directed byKiyoshi Kurosawa
Produced byJunyuki Shimoba
Tsutomu Tsuchikawa
Written byKiyoshi Kurosawa
StarringKōji Yakusho
Tsuyoshi Ujiki
Anna Nakagawa
Masato Hagiwara
CinematographyNoriaki Kikumura
Edited byKan Suzuki
Release date
Running time
110 minutes

Cure (キュア, Kyua) is a 1997 Japanese psychological horror-thriller film[1][2] written and directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, starring Kōji Yakusho, Masato Hagiwara, Tsuyoshi Ujiki and Anna Nakagawa. The film was released to strong critical acclaim in both the East and the West, with critics praising Kurosawa's direction as well as the visuals and atmosphere.[3] In 2012, South Korean film director Bong Joon-ho listed the film as one of the greatest films of all time.[4]


Kenichi Takabe (Kōji Yakusho) is an emotionally repressed police detective with a mentally unstable wife. Takabe investigates a series of bizarre murders in which each victim is killed in the same way, with a large "X" carved into their neck, but the perpetrator is different each time. In every case the murderers are caught close to the scene of the crime, and although they readily confess to committing the crimes, they never have a substantial motive and cannot explain what drove them to kill.

Takabe, together with a psychologist named Sakuma (Tsuyoshi Ujiki), eventually determines that one man is the common thread among the murders, as each person he comes in contact with commits a killing shortly thereafter. The man, called Mamiya (Masato Hagiwara), appears to have extreme short-term memory loss; he seems constantly confused about what day it is, where he is, and what his name is. He claims to recall nothing of his past. Mamiya constantly counters Takabe's interrogation with evasive questions regarding Takabe's identity. This drives Takabe nearly insane as he gradually loses his initial calmness. The futility of the case starts to affect his psyche as he becomes more and more volatile, exploding into violent fits of anger.

Takabe discovers that Mamiya used to be a student of psychology who researched mesmerism and hypnosis. He comes to realize that Mamiya has no memory problems, and is instead a master of hypnosis, capable of planting criminal suggestions in strangers' minds by exposing them to repetitive sounds, the motion of water, or the flame of a lighter. Sakuma also finds a videotape of a mysterious man, speculated to be the originator of mesmerism, hypnotizing a woman by gesturing an "X" midair, and shows the video to Takabe at his house. After showing the tape, Sakuma is shown to have unconsciously drawn an X on his wall, and starts to experience hallucinations of Takabe menacingly cornering him. Several days later, the police discover Sakuma's body in his home, and conclude that he committed suicide. Meanwhile, Mamiya is jailed and charged with incitement to murder.

Mamiya finds Takabe fascinating, possibly because he cannot force Takabe to kill. Takabe does have visions of his wife (Anna Nakagawa) dead, however, and the more he studies Mamiya, the more he feels that he might be losing his mind. He becomes more and more frustrated with his wife's helplessness and even expresses murderous intent towards her at one point. His wife's strange behavior and concerns about his own mental stability lead him to have her committed to a mental hospital. When Mamiya escapes, killing a policeman and a doctor in the process, Takabe tracks him to a deserted building in the wilderness and shoots him. The film ends ambiguously, in which a waitress suddenly draws out a knife, seemingly ready to kill her supervisor after talking to Takabe, and suggests that Mamiya's bizarre work is being carried out inadvertently by Takabe himself.



Cure was released in 1997.[5] It was later screened at the Toronto International Film Festival in 1999 as part of career retrospective on Kurosawa.[6][7] It received a wider release in the West in 2001.[7]


Tom Mes of Midnight Eye described the film as "a horror film in the purest sense of the word".[8] Meanwhile, A. O. Scott of The New York Times noted that Kiyoshi Kurosawa "turns the thriller into a vehicle for gloomy social criticism."[9] Scott Tobias of The A.V. Club said: "Kurosawa, a prolific genre stylist who specializes in low-key thrillers and horror films, undercuts the lurid material by keeping a chilly, almost clinical distance from the events and unfolding the story in elliptical pieces."[10]



  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Joon-ho, Bong (2012). "Bong Joon-ho - BFI - British Film Institute". Sight & Sound.
  5. ^ Murguia 2016, p. 40.
  6. ^ Crow, Jonathan. "Cure (1997)". AllMovie. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  7. ^ a b Clark, Jason. "Cure (1997)". AllMovie. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  8. ^ Mes, Tom (March 20, 2001). "Midnight Eye review: Cure". Midnight Eye.
  9. ^ Scott, A. O. (August 3, 2001). "Film in Review; 'Cure'". The New York Times.
  10. ^ Tobias, Scott (March 29, 2002). "Cure". The A.V. Club.


  • Murguia, Salvador Jimenez, ed. (2016). The Encyclopedia of Japanese Horror Films. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 1442261676.

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