Yoko Noguchi (Yukiko Okamoto; Bounce KO Gals, The Returner) is a successful plastic surgeon with a cold heart. Her warped view regarding beauty has left her greedy and selective of the clients she takes on; Dr. Noguchi’s practice is based on her customers’ looks and the size of their wallets. Late one evening, a disfigured woman appears on the doorstep of Yoko’s home/business. Yoshie Kono (Asuka Kurosawa; A Snake of June, Dead Waves) is seeking Dr. Noguchi’s expert skills to re-sculpt her into a beautiful specimen. Yoshie is willing to pay three million yen if the doctor will follow the patient’s unusual request: the doctor will perform the surgeries alone, after the clinic is closed, and with no nurses to assist. Director Katsuya Matsumura’s twisted psychological-horror film Kirei – the terror of beauty arrives in the US from Tokyo Shock.
Audio: Japanese 2.0 DD
Extras: Trailer, Making of “Kirei”
Notes: Review is based on a Retail purchased copy of the final product.
Yoko Noguchi is the Japanese female counterpart to Christian Troy of the FX series Nip/Tuck. She has a strict routine she follows daily to take care of her body. Her home is located in the flat above her clinic and reflects the simplicity of beauty that Noguchi tries to achieve daily. The nurses are treated like tools for running the business and Yoko avoids socializing with them otherwise. This has created a revolving-door staff as Dr. Noguchi can’t even concern herself with remembering the names of her employees… but she does remember the plastic surgery she performed on them previously. Yoko’s only release is visiting her secret lover, a psychologist named Dr. Nomura, for after-hours sessions in his bed.
A disfigured woman appears at the door to the Yoko Cosmetic Surgery clinic after the nurses have gone home for the evening. Yoko insists that Yoshie make an appointment to see her, but Yoshie manages to push her way into getting a meeting then and there. Yoshie Kono has been disfigured her entire life and would like to look beautiful. Having seen one of Yoko’s ads in a magazine, she has decided that Dr. Noguchi is the person who can give her a face that people will not shudder away from. Offering three million yen, Yoshie asks for the surgical sessions to be held without a nursing staff to assist and after hours so that no one sees how she currently looks. Yoko debates the idea, but accepts the large sum of money offered to help pay the bills piling up for the clinic.
The surgeries begin in secret with only Yoko’s love Nomura knowing the details as she fuck-and-tells after every operation. Yoshie’s demands grow more insane as she convinces Yoko to move from the face to the body and finally begging the doctor to rebuild her vagina so that she can have sex for the first time. Each demand pushes Yoko into a more uncomfortable situation. Yoko explains the details to Nomura who suggests that Yoshie is suffering dysmorphophobia: the fear of deformity. Yoshie offers an additional five million yen if Dr. Noguchi will complete the surgeries by resculpting her vagina. Still debating the offer, Yoko calls her former mentor, Dr. Fujita, and asks for his advice. Fujita suggests that Yoko avoid performing any further surgeries because it will only mean trouble… for Yoko.
Yoko accepts the money and performs surgery on Yoshie’s vagina. Afterwards, Yoshie disappears for a while and Yoko starts to not think about the matter anymore. However, one evening Yoshie appears again and begs the doctor to redo the work on her face despite the fact that the swelling from the earlier surgeries has not gone away. Again Noguchi takes the knife to Yoshie’s face and adds more shaping to Yoshie’s already heavily-modified face. However, it’s the after-surgery discussion which completely unnerves the doctor. Yoshie states that no one can understand how she feels and leaves with the statement, “Anyone can bear the troubles of another.” Afterwards, Yoshie vanishes again for a while until one evening when Yoko receives a disturbing phone call from the former patient about how she is in pain and the swelling won’t go away.
Kirei – the terror of beauty is part psychological-horror and part social-commentary about achieving beauty at any cost. Ultimately, the film fails on both parts as we are dragged through forty-five minutes of poorly-laid-out plot to reach the first hints of horror. Yukiko Okamoto is a sexy siren and great to watch onscreen for her sex scenes, but the character is flat as a board when it comes to personality. The cold demeanor of the character comes off very poorly and could use some guidance from Julian McMahon’s approach. Asuka Kurosawa is simply lifeless as she spends most of her time in heavy makeup trying to beg the doctor to fix this or that. If you survive the first forty-five minutes to get to the start of the psychological horror, you deserve a medal. Nudity is limited to breasts shots of Yukiko and Asuka, but the shower and simulated sex scenes are plentiful throughout the film.
Kirei – the terror of beauty is a terrible movie that should be passed over, even if it’s in the bargin bin. The scariness in the film is left to Yoshie’s disfigured looks and not much else. The acting is on par with a low-budget b-movie and really shows through most of the film. The video transfer is fine… too bad this film was originally shot with a digicam and looks poor at its best moments. The subtitles are pretty much error-free. The DVD extras consist of a promotional trailer and a twenty minute “Making of Kirei” to show some behind the scenes interviews and shots. Unless you find bad acting and lots of blood to be scary, I would suggest avoiding Katsuya Matsumura’s Kirei – the terror of beauty at all costs as this is one of the worst films I’ve seen come out of Japan (and I’m counting Rasen on that list).