Moon Child

MOON CHILD. 2003

Director: Takahisa Zeze

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



Moon ChildAlthough chaotic in the storyline, Moon Child truly entertained me. Set in the near future in a grimy city called Maleppa that is a combination of the worst streets of Hong Kong, Taipan, Tokyo, & Detroit, hungry violent gangs roam the lawless streets.

An orphan street urchin encounters a beautiful androgynous vampire despondently awaiting the sunlight to destroy him. The kid saves the vampire, Kei, who becomes part of a gang. The story cuts to a few years in the future with the gang members a bit older, Sho now played by pop singer Gackt Camui of "Gackt & Hyde." Kei (played by Hyde) as a changeless vampire is no older. He's still despondent over his regretful need to bleed people to death in order to live, but he does experience flashes of happiness in the company of young Sho. He has a loving family-substitute of Japanese & Taiwanese street toughs, including Son played by Wang Leehom, a Taiwanese-American pop singer. Son's mute sister is also in the gang.

For a while here, the story gets clunky as the orphan & his gang pals, now young adults, are introduced in a series of criminal & shoot-out activities that imply their good pal the beautiful but depressed vampire has changed them. They appear to have super speed, super agility, & immunity to pain or bullets. But after this introduction they are never again shown as anything but regular people who happen to have an uneasy alliance with a vampire they care about.

GacktIt views almost like the film was partially made when the creative team decided to make another movie altogether not about a vampire gang but of a gang family with one vampire member. If not for this curious logic-lapse early in the story, this would've been a great low budget exploitation film with a lot of heart, rather than just cool fun despite major errors of storytelling.

For the bulk of the tale the main interest is the homoerotic friendship between the vampire Kei & the young man who when a child saved him from suicide. Their love for one another is palpable, & the friendships throughout the gang are idyllic for a while. But as things fall apart in a criminal world, Kei becomes increasingly reclusive & Sho can rarely convince him to leave their shared apartment.

The director started his career as a soft-core pornographer & eroticism remains important for what he has filmed. The "fashion" of the gang is highly effeminate as they wear make-up & look very girlish throughout the story, but their manner is otherwise macho. Like the "little droogies" of Clockwork Orange, effeminacy is a totally credible style for some near future gang.

Moon ChildThe characters' look is based, of course, on Gackt & Hyde's sexually ambiguous stage performances. Their music & image has from the start been marketed as girlish beefcake that gets sold equally to young men & young women for its fetish value. Gackt & Hyde "fan fiction" is pornographic & gay in nature, though written mostly by girls, & Gackt whenever asked point blank if he & Hyde are a couple is always dodgy. He one admitted only, "If I had been born a woman, I would be in love with Hyde." The dodginess may be because homosexual innuendo is commercially viable in Japan, but the certainty of homosexuality might discourage a percentage of the fan base.

So the homoeroticism of the film is intertwined with that of the central actors' musical stage presence & the rampant rumors their image generates. But they are not treated in the story as overtly gay nor even particularly sexual; it's more like an intensified version of semi-erotic bonding of very young teenage boys (even those who eventually mature into totally hetero guys), & essential Sho is a teenage boy & Kei is sort of one since he can't age.

Eventually Kei falls in love with the girl in their group, & she reciprocates but neither of them do anything about it. Being a mute with no speaking lines until near the end of the film, she's never a presence with much conviction. Apparently the ideal girlfriend has to be mute in a story about barely repressed faggots whose real relationship is with each other.

In time the gang partially breaks up. The mute girl marries Sho & they have a daughter, & then she comes down with a terminal disease, dying without ever having gotten over Kei. Her brother has joined a Taiwanese gang to be with his own kind. Due to his dutifulness to his gang, he can do nothing about it when the Taiwanese decides to kill everyone left in Sho's small gang.

Sho feels he has no choice but to go on a yakuza-style revenge-raid even though it may leave his young daughter entirely orphaned. He is now alone in the world except for the little girl, & wants to get back in touch with the unslayable Kei to assist him on the final revenge, & make him promise to raise the daughter if Sho should not make it through their last great battle.

Alas, Kei has been captured by the police who have him in a hospital prison & have been studying his strange biology, eventually deciding his numerous murders & his need to continue requires his execution. We kinda suspect all along he's only in their custody because of his unremittant suicidal despondency & if he wanted to live, he could escape pretty easily. So what happens after Sho asks for his assistance is no big surprise, though it results in a pretty great climax.

Though I remain a little discouraged about the film due to its plot lapse early in the story, in the main it works awfully well. I liked the look of the film & its sissy-macho characters & I loved the performances, which had none of the weakness one might expect of people who got starring roles mainly because they were rock stars.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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