Police officers, Numata (Kenji Nasa) and his partner Tosaka (Takaaki Yoshimoto), are undercover investigating an organ harvesting gang. When their cover is blown, Numata manages to escape the ensuing gunfight while Tosaka is captured. The organ thieves, Saeki (Kimihiko Hasegawa) and Yoko (Kei Fujiwara) continue their murderous activities, evading capture by the police and repercussions from the criminal gang who are unhappy with their operation being discovered. Tosaka’s whereabouts are being investigated by Numata and Tosaka’s own identical twin brother.
Written and directed by Kei Fujimoto, who also stars as Yoko, “Organ” is a gruesome blend of police action and body horror. The visually grotesque sequences of organ harvesting and transformation, reminiscent of Tsukamoto’s “Tetsuo” (which Fujiwara acted in), are effective in establishing the depraved criminality of the antagonists; and highlighting human vulnerability and mortality. The special effects, helped by close-up, handheld camerawork and lighting, are stomach-churning, bringing even the more outrageous concepts to sickening life. The film’s direction is often disorienting, packed with close-ups in cramped quarters, the editing intercutting between sequences, and the blending together of three subplots that rarely overlap. This gives the whole film the feel of a Frankenstein’s monster, dissected and reassembled from parts; a story that becomes easier to understand the more we see of it. The inclusion of flashbacks showing Junichi and Yoko’s troubled childhood are a good example of a scene that seems to be spliced in, but without which much of the emotional connection to the characters would be lost.
As the film progresses, the plot becomes clearer and the characters more well-defined, but “Organ” remains a film that works best on an experiential or metaphorical level. In one of the weirder sequences we see a humanoid figure emerging from a cocoon. It comes from nowhere and is not apparently referencing anything literal in the film. We see Junichi struggling with some strange condition, turning into a monster before our eyes, perhaps a nod to the idea of his sins manifesting physically. The strength of the film is in what it says about human frailty, and what constitutes morality when we live in such a fragile state, at the mercy of disease that is as ruthless as the criminals in the film. “Organ” also delves into psychology with the notion that Junichi and Yoko’s past may have forced them down this path of destruction, or at least taught them not to value human life. A curious film that works as a simple action-horror, but contains darker truths if you scratch beneath the surface.