Seventh Code ("Sebunsu kodo")
A young woman with a suitcase is nervously running around the streets of Vladivostok, a Russian port city. A native of Japan, Akiko (Atsuko Maeda, former member of musical sensation AKB48) is a stranger in a strange land where she doesn’t speak the language. Her only anchor is Matsunaga (Ryohei Suzuki, GATCHAMAN and HK: FORBIDDEN SUPER HERO), a man she met only once about a month ago in Tokyo. When she finally finds him again, he pretends not to know her and abandons her after telling her not to trust a soul. This is a valid warning as Akiko is later abducted by ruffians and stripped of her luggage and passport. Completely empty-handed, she ends up in a Japanese restaurant where she makes the acquaintance of the owner and his wife. Touched by the young visitor’s ordeal, they take her in with open arms, offering her a job and a place to stay. They’re even willing to help Akiko find Matsunaga, with whom she has mysterious matters to settle. This search will lead her into a sinister universe of international espionage in which countless fatal surprises await.
For the same reasons Hitchcock used to forbid entry into PSYCHO once it had already begun, we will keep quiet about the dramatic evolution of SEVENTH CODE, the first of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s films to be shot outside of Japan. With an unexpected detour into family drama with the huge TOKYO SONATA, the Fantasia regular here continues to amaze by digging his claws into the thriller genre. Don’t expect a BOURNE IDENTITY with shaggy ghosts, because SEVENTH CODE deals first and foremost with the fear of the unknown. As the film progresses, we become one with Akiko, feeling like a disoriented young girl roaming an alien world that seems even more threatening due to her ignorance of its culture. Her only means of assistance comes from the generosity of a restaurateur, which gives Kurosawa ample opportunity to explore the complexity of human nature, much like the illustrious master with whom he shares his name. In a surprise ending, the director of REAL also has fun smashing expectations and causes a major rupture by capsizing us into a totally different film set in a quasi-surrealist world where the weak become ruthless adversaries. It is in fact in this world that he reveals his hidden talent for fight choreography, but we’ll say no more. SEVENTH CODE is a creative gem that only Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s fantastic spirit could have conceived.
— Simon Laperrière