Rumpled cop Takabe (Yakusho), whose wife is cracking up, investigates a rash of inexplicable murders; in each case the murderer can't say why he or she did it - or why it was necessary to carve a large 'X' on the victim's body. The common factor turns out to be contact with Mamiya (Hagiwara), a drop-out from med school, now a seemingly helpless drifter. And when Mamiya is brought in for questioning, Takabe seems next in line to fall under his malign spell. Kurosawa's dark thriller owes too much to other recent movies (the murderous mind games from Angel Dust, the police-procedural blues from MARKS) and the metaphysical climax doesn't convince. But it's well enough acted and directed to advance Kurosawa's claim to be taken as an important new voice in Japanese cinema.