I’m Dying…But Not Yet

One unwelcome trend that the otherwise great availability of more Japanese, Chinese and Korean films has given us is the extended death scene. Perhaps it is due to the choice of weapons involved. In Hollywood, where the weapon of choice is generally the gun, people tend to die quite quickly. You get the odd stagger-around-with-hand-over-wound moment, but in general the US film market cannot stomach a death scene that lasts over a minute.

House Of – Flying Daggers (sing it a la The Rapture) has one death scene which last twenty minutes, and two of about five minutes. Hero was essentially a two hour death scene (though whose death scene, eh?) Oldboy has a very extended injury scene which should actually be a death scene. Even Infernal Affairs dragged the deaths of its protagonists out a touch.

But none of these get close to the longest death scene I have ever seen. When The Last Sword Is Drawn, recent Japanese Samurai epic which is relatively entertaining until you get to the last forty minutes. Because the last forty minutes are an overly sentimental, almost funny death scene. Plus watching the effect of said death on his friends, family, and the entire history of Japan it would seem. All of that, and we do not actually get to see the moment of death.

Death is an easy way of plucking at emotions. Coupled with an exploitative soundtrack it can be devastating. But it is too easy, relies on cheap sentimentality and distasteful (to me at least).

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