Death Note is a delightful wee Chinese film based an on old Chinese proverb: ‘Thou dost not need to see thine enemy to strike him down’. This was turned into a play hundreds of years ago by Chinaland’s version of Shakespeare, Confuseus. He was a philosophist and moraliser who I studied for many years at University. His play was all about whether Man has the right to play God and raises the idea than when Man is given the power of God he in fact becomes Satan. A boy from a local village finds a magic scroll dropped by a pile of pixies and when he lifts it he becomes their ruler. Rather than grant him wishes, they say that they have the power to punish and kill anyone he wants them to, if only he writes their name in the scroll. As the boy is from a poor family and is frequently bullied he decides that this could be the key to his revenge whilst making his family some well deserved money. His mother may or may not have been sick. He starts by telling the pixies to attack his bullies, giving them wedgies and pushing them out of their junks etc. Regrettably, in a fit of rage he wishes the lead bully was dead, so the pixies pull his head off. After a taste of this power the boy goes on a personal crusade, killing those he thinks are evil, and hurting all those he loved. It’s pretty good for a play, but it needed some zombies or something to truly make it a classic.
Fast forward 2 thousand years and we finally have a movie based on the thing. The boy is no longer poor, but played by the survivor from Battle Royal. He is the son of the President of China, and is cute, popular, and a genius. Also modern audiences wouldn’t believe in a bunch of pixies so they updated it to a giant elf. The boy is all set up to go to University and be a successful whatever, but he is sick of the amount of crime and treachery he sees everywhere: murderers back on the streets after two years; thieves and bullies roaming the streets making everyone scared to leave their houses; politicians robbing the people of their wages and rights; celebrities hugging fame and acting superior to everyone else. He magically gets hold of the scroll- updated to a funky file-o-fax and decides to wreak some justice. Soon his avenging angel persona becomes a celebrity like Miley-Ray Cyrax and the people are divided in their support for him. He has the power to kill anyone in the world at will, and is safe from harm as no-one knows who is responsible. That is until ultra weirdo ‘El’ comes along, sucking a lollipop. He is some sort of mega genius who is able to make gigantic logical leaps to work out that the killer lives right in their own very city. He is a heartthrob; a skinny little goth clad emo goth with cool hair who is so charismatic that he is able to control the entire Chinese police force just by eating a marshmallow funny. Soon a battle of wits begins- one trying to prove the other is a killer, the other trying to kill one before he works out the truth- this means much excitements! Throw into the mix a sexy girlfriend, some AMAZING graphics, and some apple related humour and we have possibly the only good foreign film ever made of all time.
Best Scene: When the boy kills one of his teachers at home in front of the TV. It gives a terrifying insight into how the elf kills his victims; the teacher switches on his TV but finds only one channel- a sepia tinged forest with a well in the middle. He sees the elf climbing slowly out of it, and crawling towards the camera. He watches with sickness, with a growing unease (like when you’re on the toilet trying to finish as a spider comes under the door and crawls towards you) by utterly transfixed. The elf gets to the camera… and crawls OUT of the TV!!! The teacher screams (like one of his pupils when he announces a surprise maths exam) and the elf gets him.