When oddball auteur Kiyoshi Kurosawa received an eccentric offer to make two films in two weeks, on a low budget and using the same cast, the result was the cinematic equivalent of fraternal twins.
Though both Spider's Gaze and Serpent's Path are gangster films about the desire for revenge, and both films feature a protagonist named Nijima played convincingly by Sho Aikawa, the two movies are completely different in tone and plot.
Nonetheless, they seem freakishly interlocked in ways that defy the conventionally linear relationship of a sequel, as each of these enigmatic, absorbing films elucidates our understanding of the other. Unlike the light-hearted tone of Spider's Gaze, Serpent's Path is a grim yakuza film featuring extremes of violence and brutality.
Nijima is an astrophysics lecturer who, for some obscure reason, aids a half-crazed mobster named Miyashita in his pursuit of those responsible for the brutal rape and murder of his young daughter. They abduct a series of Miyashita's colleagues, drag them to a remote warehouse, and attempt to extract confessions from them through torture.
As the body count rises, it becomes clear that Miyashita and his dwindling gang were involved in the production of snuff movies. When Nijima reveals his motives for helping the gangster, our understanding of both this film and Spider's Gaze are completely altered. This film was screened at the 1999 Toronto Film Festival as part of the Director's Spotlight.