Director by Tomu Uchida (Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji, The Mad Fox), A Fugitive From the Past came in sixth place in Kinema Junpo magazine’s 1995 poll of the Top Japanese Films of the 20th Century, third in 1999 and sixteenth in their 2009 poll.
As a storm sends a passenger ferry to a watery grave claiming the lives of hundreds of people, three suspects race from a burning pawnshop. Detective Yumisaka (Junzaburo Ban) finds only a burned boat and two bodies which he knows came from the crime and not the sinking of the ferry. Meanwhile, Takichi Inukai (Rentaro Mikuni) and sex worker Yae (Sachiko Hidari) have a brief encounter that will remain in their minds for years.
The case grows cold until Yumisaka is called back by his successor Detective Ajimura (Ken Takakura).
Two new bodies have been found.
Based on Tsutomu Minakami’s Kiga Kaikyo, A Fugitive From the Past, the story shows how everyone’s lives have been changed by the robbery. Inukai has become a normal businessman named Tarumi. When Yae sees him on the street she thanks him; the money he gave her allowed her to escape her life. He fears she will tell someone even though she kept his secret despite intense police interrogation years before.
Yumisaka resigned from the force as the case obsessed him. It still does. So when Ajimura finds a new clue, his life may have some closure, if only they can solve the mystery.
This is a story of two people — a woman saved by a killer and a police detective destroyed by his crime — that are still looking for him for different reasons. It may be three hours long, but it’s a really intense crime procedural that can now finally be seen in its full beauty here in America.
The Arrow blu ray of this film — the first home video release outside of Japan — has the restored 183-minute-long cut of the film, along with an introduction by writer and curator Jasper Sharp, scene-specific commentaries from leading Japanese film scholars Aaron Gerow, Irene González-López, Erik Homenick, Earl Jackson, Daisuke Miyao and Alexander Zahlten, the original theatrical trailer, an image gallery, a Tomu Uchida filmography, a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tony Stella and a first pressing limited edition collector’s booklet that has writing on the film by David Baldwin and Inuhiko Yomota. You can buy it from MVD.