Told to 'rest' after a botched hostage rescue attempt, cop Yabuike (Yakusho) sets fire to his car, stumbles into a forest, ingests a strange mushroom - and finds himself in the middle of a guerilla war over a mysterious and supposedly unique tree called Charisma. A woman botanist considers it virulently toxic and wants it destroyed; an eco-activist is determined to save it; thieves try to steal it; and the military has hellish plans of its own for it. The first hour or so of Kurosawa's overtly metaphorical thriller is intriguing and well grounded in eccentric characters, surreal imagery and polemic debate. But then the entire construct falls to pieces in a welter of graphic violence which not only fails to resolve the philosophical issues but also amounts to a slap in the viewer's face for ever taking them seriously to begin with.
Cast and crew