On the other hand, there is Cross Fire/Pyrokinesis. Cross Fire comes from Toho Studios, the producers of the Godzilla films, and Shusuke Kaneko, one of the most exciting new directors to emerge in Japanese fantastic cinema in the 1990s. Kaneko was responsible for revitalising Daieis Gamera series and making some of the most exciting of all modern Japanese monster movies with the likes of Gamera, The Guardian of the Universe (1995), Gamera 2: Assault of Legion (1996) and Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris (1999), as well as Tohos Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001). There Kaneko invested the monster movie with a barrage of stunning effects and here he has clearly set out to set the pyrokinesis movie alight in similar ways.
Kaneko takes his time building up to the first explosion of power. There are a few small fires throughout but the first big one the attack on the snuff video-makers is incendiary when it arrives a fireball that suddenly explodes out of nowhere and blasts a motorcyclist halfway across a warehouse; the assailant who grabs Akiko Yada and whose face starts to glow from within then swells up before erupting into flames; the attacker pointing a gun whose arm and side of face explodes into flame; one attacker being blasted by a heatwave where we see his face suddenly folding in on itself like a paper bag; even the heroine cauterising her own bullet wound.
One route Cross Fire could have gone is that of The Fury (1978), Scanners (1981) or Akira (1988) in piling one escalating novelty effects set-piece on top of another. The film certainly reaches an expected big climax in a battle with erupting merry-go-rounds, exploding tankers, psychically induced rainstorms and two pyrokinetics fighting with heat forcefields, before reaching a typically Japanese ending of transcendental sacrifice. To Shusuke Kanekos credit, he determines to make more than a film about explosions and fireballs and to get inside the soul of the pyronkinetic. The film has a powerful theme running throughout about the moral appropriateness of revenge of realising that using violence to exact justice on the violent makes the avenger as bad a person as the one who uses it in the first place, even if the epilogue contradicts this somewhat. As much as his big pyrotechnics, Kaneko also thrills with tiny touches of poetry like Akiko Yada kissing and a heat shield above her melting falling snowdrops.
Cross Fire was based on a best-selling Japanese novel, the film rights of which apparently became the subject of a bidding war. To some extent, the film tries to retain too much from the book and resultingly overburdening itself with a large number of running character strands two boyfriends, two detectives one of whose past is connected to the heroine, another pyrokinetic girl, the mysterious vigilante Guardians, and a group of snuff filmmakers/vigilantes funded from within the police department. The fact that several characters move from being on one side to another throughout adds to the difficulty of trying to follow the story. Nevertheless, Shusuke Kanekos pyronkinetics, both physical and directorial, make Cross Fire highly watchable.
Shusuke Kanekos other genre films include: The Cold episode of the H.P. Lovecraft anthology Necronomicon (1993), Gamera, The Guardian of the Universe (1995), Gamera 2: Assault of Legion (1996), School Ghost Story 3 (1997), Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris (1999), Godzilla Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001), the fantasy musical Toast of Love (2002), the horror hits Death Note (2006) and Death Note: The Last Name (2006), and Danger Dolls (2014) about an all-girl sf action team.
Trailer here (Japanese language only, no subs):-