Kitamura Ryuhei, director of the indie zombie-action movie, Versus, is following-up his lukewarmly received live-action adaptation of the Lupin III anime series for Japan with two U.S. productions. First up is Downrange, a riff of the slasher movie which is world premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness section. Described as a return-to-basics, but with a twist (the “slasher” in question is a sniper in this case), the setup plays into Kitamura’s resourceful and austere filmmaking utilized in Versus which garnered him world-wide attention. Kojima Hideo, who saw a preview screening of Downrange lauded it as potentially genre redefining. High praise indeed, but should be taken with a grain of salt as the two have been good friends since they collaborated on CG cut-scenes for Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid game.
Variety also has exclusively broken the story of Kitamura’s next project, Doorman, which has cast none other than Katie Holmes and Jean Reno in the lead roles. Again, exciting sounding news for this Japanese indie director who has been courted by Hollywood before, but has yet to “break out” in the same fashion as say, Gareth Edwards or Neill Blomkamp. Whether this is a result of incompatibility with the system or a vision which ironically becomes more muddled as the budget increases is unknown. Suffice it to say, Kitamura has the stature to attract producers abroad, but the hit or miss nature of the final products so far is the reason for the “grain of salt” comment previously. We’ll just have to wait and see.