Monday, October 24, 2005


As “Asian Mania” Week comes to a close, it’s fair to say I’ve fulfilled the “Asian” end of the equation. As for the “Mania” part, I saved the most insane for last. I offer for your consideration, ladies and gentleman…Takashi Miike.

If you’ve never seen a Takashi Miike movie, you’re truly missing out on the smorgasbord of perversity this man has to offer. He’s made something like 60 movies in the last 13 years in genres across the board, though mostly within the extreme action / horror / yakuza realm. Of the ones I’ve seen previously -- Gozu, Ichi the Killer, Dead or Alive, and Audition -- two I would consider crazed cult masterpieces (Audition, Ichi) and the other two completely nonsensical but filled with so many truly original and disturbing images and ideas that logic simply ceases to become a valid criterion.
Fudoh is the more coherent and linear of this week’s Miike selections. But that doesn’t mean it’s any lighter on the perversity. It’s your basic revenge, rise-of-a-young-gangster storyline but done with panache and a depraved inventiveness. Basically, the young Fudoh is out to avenge the murder of his brother by his own father’s sword which he witnessed as a child. It seems his father, a yakuza boss, was beholden to a rival gang leader and had to pay him back by spilling his own son’s blood, a task which he took on a little too gleefully.
The young Fudoh may not be so gleeful in getting his revenge (in fact, he’s downright solemn most of the time), but the entourage he assembles to take down the yakuza leaders and his own father is truly inspired. A sampling of his crew: a stripper who can shoot bullets through a rod out of her vagina, two five-year-old kids with backpacks packing deadly semi-automatic heat, a bad-ass toll collector chick who spikes one of the boss’ complimentary coffees with explosive cyanide, and a huge mammoth of a man who could pass for Andre the Giant’s Japanese cousin.
Dead or Alive: Final was a little less delirious violence-wise and a little harder to follow. It’s the third and last in a yakuza / sci-fi / whatever trilogy of which I had only seen the first. From what I remember of the first Dead or Alive’s ending and from what I’ve read about the second, it didn’t seem to matter what order I watched them in. The narrative jumps in this trilogy are so huge (from present day to year 2346), you could watch them on a 3 disc DVD shuffle and the effect would probably be the same. Throw in a couple replicants ala Blade Runner, a good dose of low-fi Matrix type violence, the prerequisite face off between Takeuchi Riki and Aikawa Sho, and an ending which somehow manages to more absurd than those before and you’ve got yourself a $9.95 Takashi Miike ultra-weird, ultra-violent super buffet.

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