Sada (1998)





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Sada Photos

Movie Info

The oft-filmed life story of Sada Abe -- a courtesan who killed her lover during lovemaking and then cut off her favorite organ as a keepsake -- has been the stuff of legend for over 60 years. In Nobuhiko Obayashi's 1998 adaptation of the same story, he went for a less explicit, more postmodern tact; this film tries to get to the roots of Sada's motives. Born into a poor and lonely childhood during the beginning of the 20th century, Sada (played by television star Hitomi Kuroki) is raped at the age of 14 by a thuggish college student (Masaku Ikeuchi) but saved from further degradation by Okada (Kippei Shina), a mysterious medical student who sports sunglasses and a long black coat. She falls for him, but unfortunately Okada has a dark secret; he has leprosy. Just before he departs from society to go to an asylum, he carves out an imaginary heart from his chest with a scalpel and gives it to Sada. Unable to get over the heartbreak of losing her true love, she becomes a prostitute. At age 29, she becomes the lover of a wealthy civil servant named Tachibana (Bengal) who buys her out of prostitution and apprentices her to a teahouse. There she meets Tatsuzo (Tsurutaro Kataoka), with whom she discovers a passion that she never found in the arms of her thousands of johns. When his wife learns of their tryst, she kicks Sada out. Soon Tatsuzo -- who abandoned his wife -- and Sada are holed up in a dinky apartment as sexual fugitives. Feeling like he has lived all he needs to live, he encourages her to pull the chord across his throat as part of a kinky sex game. This film won the International Film Critics Prize at the 1998 Berlin Film Festival. ~ Jonathan Crow, Rovi
Art House & International , Drama
Directed By:
In Theaters:
Criterion Collection


Hitomi Kuroki
as Sada Abe
Tsurutaro Kataoka
as Tatsuzo Kikumoto
Norihei Miki
as Takuzo
Kippei Shena
as Masaru Okada
Toshie Negishi
as Yoshi Kikumoto
as Sanosuke Tachibana
Renji Ishibashi
as Shinkichi
Kyusaka Shimada
as Takiguchi
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Sada

All Critics (1)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | March 25, 2009
Top Critic

Titillatingly bizarre.

Full Review… | April 5, 2010
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

No excerpt available.

June 3, 2005
Boxoffice Magazine

Audience Reviews for Sada


Delightfully different from the original, still sexy and wild, but more light hearted and comic. The use of music and colour were beautiful, it's less realistic than the original but offers way more subliminal messages of sex and violence. Being 2 hours and 12 minutes long was a bit painful as most of the scenes were not necessary but nonetheless a better version of the story.

Sylvester Kuo
Sylvester Kuo

Super Reviewer

Basically a biopic of Sada Abe, SADA has a few really fun, unconventional moments, though it pretty much turns into a PG version of IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES halfway through. Worth watching for the comedic elements and Obayashi's cheeky style.

Caleb McCandless
Caleb McCandless

Based on the same true story as In the Realm of the Senses. I never thought much of Oshima's version, and Obayashi completely blows him out of the water. Instead focusing on the lurid details, Obayashi chooses to explore Sada's history and how she ended up the way she did. He basically thumbs his nose at Oshima right off the bat by stating there's more to her story than slicing off a penis. And although the erotic obsession isn't the main point of the movie, it isn't overlooked, either. It manages to be much sexier than Oshima's telling, and does so without on-screen blowjobs or eggs getting stuffed into pussies. There's a dazzling array of cinematic techniques being used (including Obayashi's signature blending of color and black & white) to inject the tale with humor and vitality. Some of the comedy is a little too slapsticky, but it's a damn sight better than watching people fucking and chatting all the time. As the only Obayashi film currently with a DVD release, I recommend it as a pretty good entry point.

Martin Teller
Martin Teller

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