Takashi Miike

(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Best films:
7.5 Dead or Alive (1999)
7.4 Gozu (2003)
7.2 Ichi the Killer (2001)
7.0 Visitor Q (2001)
7.0 Shinjuku Triad Society (1995)
7.0 Blues Harp (1998)
6.9 The City Of Lost Souls (2000)
6.9 Agitator (2001)
7.3 The Bird People in China (1998)
6.8 Young Thugs (1997)
6.6 The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001)
6.6 Fudoh (1996)
6.5 Izo (2004)
6.5 Crows Zero (2007)
6.5 Audition (1999)
6.5 Rainy Dog (1997)
6.0 13 Assassins (2010)

Takashi Miike (Japan, 1960) is a director who specializes in extremely gruesome horror. He debuted with a series of videos like Shinjuku Autoroo/ Shinjuku Outlaw (1994).

Shinjuku kuroshakai - Chaina Mafia Senso/ Shinjuku Triad Society (1995) is a brutal action/gangster movie, but rather overlong and trivial. Several scenes are shot from an higher angle as if they were caught on surveillance camera hanging from the ceiling. Mostly, however, this is a straightforward gangster/noir film that simply goes on a bit too long.

Tatsuhito, a Chinese-born cop, is fighting the largest gang in Tokyo, the Dragon's Claw Society, whose leader is the vicious Wang. A Chinese boy performs oral sex on a middle-aged man for money. When the police break into the club, the Chinese boy runs away and kills an officer. The police detain several people including a girl. The girl is strip-searched but they find nothing on her. She is tortured by Tatsuhito, resulting in a broken nose and horrible bruises all over her face. Nonetheless, Tatsuhito is a good son, who cares deeply for his elderly parents. Tatsuhito is shocked to find out that Wang's lawyer who comes to free some of the detainees is accompanied by his own younger brother, Yoshihito. The girl with the broken nose has sex with a fat man, her boyfriend and Wang's right-arm man, Karino, and she asks him to kill the cop who tortured her. Wang is relatively young, and scorned by the older bosses of organized crime. He gains respect through his brutality. But also he doesn't miss any opportunity to show his disrespect for them: after a meeting he opens his clothes and shows himself naked to them. The middle-aged man who had sex with the boy in the club is still being interrogated. The cops sodomize him until he reveals where T can find Wang. Meanwhile, Wang tortures an old lady who refuses to pay for his protection (he physically rips an eye off her face). Then Y helps Wang run away before he can get arrested by T. At a family reunion T warns Y in vain. T visits the girl and sodomizes her: he wants her to tell Wang to stay away from his brother. His brother is actually the main negotiator for Wang's main business: organs, organs from helpless orphans. On a trip to Taiwan, T is driven by a fellow cop to the place where Wang grew up: he killed his father at the age of 14 and fled the country. T too left Taiwan as a teenager. His guide takes him to see the myserious hospital for children that Wang built. T interrogates children who had their organs removed at the hospital. Back in Japan he is reprimanded for conducting unauthorized investigations in Taiwan. His mother calls that his father is not well. We also see Wang washing blood off his hands while his boyfriend waits naked in bed in a room lit with candles, and we are not shown my there is blood on his hands. T ventures into gang's territory looking for his brother and is beaten brutally. They are ready to take his kidneys and dump him in the sea, but he is found by the girl with the broken nose. She surprisingly confesses that he was the first man who gave her an orgasm (and in fact she's concerned about his penis not about his other organs). She takes him home (she lives with Wang's right-arm buddy Karino). One of the gangsters trades a precious knife for a blow job by Wang's boy. Wang washes his hands again before going to sleep with the boy: it is the blood of his father and it is not coming off. Now we understand that it only happens in his imagination. T is determined to find Y and explains it to the girl. She finds him a gun. T finds the girl's boyfriend Karino and shoots him in the penis despite the fact that he has just told T where Y is. T finds Y and the two point guns at each other but then T simply beats up Y. Then T carries Y's unconscious body to the train station and loads him onto a bullet train to go visit father. On the way back T runs into the girl who saved his life and who helps him get into Wang's hideout. He shoots repeatedly Wang in the heart but Wang seems to possess superhuman strength and doesn't die until T sticks a glass shard into his throat. With his last breath the degenerate Wang crawls towards his boyfriend. T's boss at the police station suspects that T is the killer but T refuses to confess. He actually gets promoted.

Fudoh (1996)

Full Metal Yakuza (1997) mixes the gangster genre and the sci-fi genre.

Young Thugs (1997)

Blues Harp (1998) is a "domestic" and "noir" yakuza that has two protagonists: one is the traditional ambitious and ruthless yakuza, but the other is a humble musician and bartender. When the bartender saves the life of the yakuza, he actually signs his own death sentence because he arouses the deadly jealousy of the yakuza's psychotic and homosexual bodyguard. In a sense the bartender gets punished by fate for having helped a yakuza, otherwise he would have enjoyed success and a loving wife.

A mulatto child, Chuji, plays the harmonica in a street while a young man delivers food to a lady who is the child's mother and doesn't even know that it is summer vacation.
A rock band is performing in a nightclub while gangsters are chasing a man down an alley. The man hides in outside the nightclub. A mulatto bartender of the nightclub, who is the grown-up Chuji, defends a woman from a much bigger foreign and then throws the man in the street and sits outside to smoke a cigarette. Then he notices the bleeding man hiding by the stairs. Before they can talk, the gang runs by and asks Chuji if he has seen anyone. Chuji lies and so saves the life of the hiding man, a yakuza named Kenji. The girl defended by Chuji turns out to be a nurse and takes care of the wounded man, but then admits that she works for a veterinarian. Afterwards Chuji and Kenji chat while the girl, Tokiko, listens. Chuji's father was a US soldier who left his mom and possibly died in Vietnam. His mother was a prostitute who, when he was ten, left him in an orphanage. Kenji wakes up in the middle of the night and admires Chuji's naked body. In the morning a fellow yakuza comes to tell Kenji that their boss, the leader of the Hanamura gang, has straightened out things with the rival Okada gang. One day walking in the street Chuji recognizes a black foreigner as his father from the only picture of him: Chuji casually hands him the picture, tells him that he's his son and walks away, indifferent. Kenji gets beaten up by his fellow gangster Aoyama by order of their boss for causing trouble. When he is not working as a bartender at the nightclub, Chuji deals drugs for the Okada gang. Aoyama gets stabbed to death by two men, presumably friends of Kenji's. Chuji meets again Tokiko in a record store, they go on a date and sleep together. Meanwhile, Kenji is having an affair with Reiko, the wife of his boss Hanamura, and they are plotting to get rid of her husband and have Kenji named his successor thanks to a forged will. One night at the club Chuji is invited on stage by the rock musician and demonstrates his skills as a blues harmonica player. When they leave the club, the rock musician sees his mother in tears: his father had a stroke, is left paralyzed, and the following day the rock musician tells Chuji that he will take over his father's dofu store. Chuji takes over the rock band. Kenji gives money to Chuji to thank him for his and Tokiko's help. Kenji tells Chuji that his ambition is to make it to the top of the organization. Kenji asks Chuji if Chuji likes him and it sounds like he's talking about physical, homosexual "liking". Kenji is always escorted by his "brother" Kaneko who seems to be homosexual. Kenji and Kaneko meet with Kojima, the vice-boss of the Okada gang. Kenji has a plan: Kojima's men will kill Hanamura, Kenji will blame it on Okada, then kill Okada in revenge. The forged will make it the new leader of the Hanamura gang, while Kojima will become the leader of the Okada gang. In return, Kenji only wants Kojima to pledge alliance between the two gangs. Meanwhile, Chuji is very successful as a musician, always supported by an ecstatic Tokiko, and a talent scout from a record label offers him a chance to make a record. The same day Tokiko finds out that she is pregnant and Chuji is excited. Everything seems to be going well but Kaneko, jealous that Kenji seems to like Chuji, makes sure that Chuji is selected for the killing of Hanamura. Chuji accepts to do a favor to Kojima, without knowing what he has to do, because Kojima threatens to ruin his career if he refuses. What they don't tell Chuji is that a sniper will kill the killer. The killing is set for the same day when Chuji has to perform for the scout's boss. Reiko exchanges the will in Hanamura's safe. She has sex with Kenji and then we see that she has blood dripping down her legs. When the day comes, Tokiko is puzzled that Chuji is not excited about meeting the record executive, but Chuji is worried because he has to meet Kojima. When they meet, Chuji finds out that he has to kill Hanamura. Chuji initially refuses but Kojima threatens to hurt his wife. Hanamura is on his way to a hotel to meet his lover, and Chuji is on his way towards the same hotel. Suddenly, Kaneko starts crying, ashamed of what he has done to Chuji. Kenji guesses that Kaneko has done something wrong and makes him confess. Hearing that Chuji is about to get killed, Kenji jumps in the car and drives towards the hotel. Chuji waits in front of the elevator for Hanamura. When the elevator door opens, Chuji shoots but it is Kenji. Chuji shoots but luckily he misses. However, Hanamura has found out about Kenji's betrayal and is waiting for him. Hanamura's men are about to kill Kenji and Chuji when Kenji manages to kill Hanamura. Kenji and Chuji manage to escape in a car, but Kenji is fatally wounded. The dying Kenji tells Chuji to drive faster so he can make it in time for the important performance at the club. Chuji starts performing while Kenji lies wounded in the back, by the same stairs where he met Chuji the first time. Hanamura's gang arrives and they finish Kenji. Then the screen goes black but we guess that they are going to kill Chuji too. The film ends with a pregnant Tokiko playing the harmonica and a flashback of Chuji as a child with his father.

By comparison, Rainy Dog (1997) is a melodrama, although it is still centered on a yakuza gangster. And Ley Lines (1999) is a picaresque adventure with comic overtones. This concludes the Black Triad Trilogy.

Andromedia (1998) in which a schoolgirl resurrects as a computer program

Chugoku no Chojin/ The Bird People in China (1998), one of his most subtle films (even elegiac), is an adventure story, halfway between farcical comedy and philosophical meditation, about a remote village where a girl keeps alive the legend that humans can learn to fly. The natives don't believe the silly old superstition but the city gangster does, or at least likes the idea of living in a society where people believe in legends. The protagonist shifts: initially it's the businessman in search of precious stones, then it becomes the gangster who wants to protect the idyllic lifestyle of a primitive village. And towering over them is the old Englishmen who turned an old superstition into a powerful living symbol of freedom and dignity, and chose to live there his whole life. We catch glimpses of Vincente Minnelli's Brigadoon and Hayao Miyazaki's Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind and many other films in which a modern man falls in love with a remote primitive village, and the story recycles themes from novels such as Joseph Conrad's "Heart Of Darkness" and Saul Bellow's "Henderson the Rain King" updated to the age of the environmental movement.

A young Japanese man dressed like a businessman is traveling on a train and taping his diary. A week earlier he was picked to replace a sick colleague, Okamura, and sent to China, his first trip to China. The train is taking him to a primitive southern region. We see documentary images of China flashing by quickly. Wada is to meet a Japanese-speaking guide, Shen, who will escort him to some jade deposit. The passengers on the train get excited that there's a Japanese tourist and even take a picture of him. Wada gets off the train at the station of a rural village and is taken to Shen and his van. Another Japanese man is watching them and stops the van. Wada protests that he has no partner but this man takes him to a deserted billiard room, beats him up and tells him that Okamura owed money to his yakuza organization. Apparently Wada's company has promised to pay back the yakuzas with the precious jade, and Ujiie was ordered by his boss to follow Okamura. The gangster, Ujiie, is not happy of the assignment. Shen takes them to the desolate mining area where roads are still unpaved (they are bad that the door of the van falls apart after so much shaking and the van is so bad that at one point the steering wheel pops out). Wada has to share the hotel room with Ujiie, who is increasingly upset at how uncivilized the Chinese are. The following morning their vehicle is actually a tractor. Wada is serious about his job and studies books about jade whereas Ujiie behaves like a tourist taking pictures of Chinese life. Their next stop is an inn where they meet a young Japanese who is hunting for stone carvings of people with wings. He found them in Japan and is convinced that the legend originated in that part of China, a region that influenced ancient Japan. The following day the tractor can't go any further because the road has been swallowed by the river. They have to walk on a footbridge and climb a mountain. They are caught in a violent storm and their luggage is lost. They continue the march through a jungle and finally seem to reach their destination, a village in the middle of nowhere. Ujiie can't take it anymore and almost shoots Wada when they have another argument, but a smiling Shen announces that they still have two days of travel ahead, this time by boat. The "boat" turns out to be just a raft pulled by tortoises. After a while Wada realizes that they have been drifting. Shen asks the local helmsman if he knows the way to the jade village but the helmsman is instead waiting for instructions from Shen, and Shen admits that he doesn't remember, he doesn't even remember who he is. They are arguing how to go back to the village when they suddenly see villagers crossing the river by cables in the air. By following them, the explorers finally reach the jade village. This is a place that still hasn't been reached by electricity. Wada still has his little voice recorder and keeps taping his diary. The following day they meet happy children wearing home-made bamboo wings, and the local guide tells them that they are pupils at a school that teaches how to become bird people. Shen dismisses it as an old superstition but Ujiie wants to meet the teacher. They visit the "school" which is run by a blue-eyed girl. She tells them that the legend had been forgotten until her demented grandfather returned to the village. The villagers think that he came from the sky. After the grandfather died, she was asked to continue his school. Wada finds jade of very high quality, but at night the tortoises escape. Now there is virtually no way for the explorer to go back. Stuck in the village until Shen finds a solution, they watch the girl's flying lessons. Shen shows Wada and Ujiie the notes about flying written by the girl's grandfather. They are English notes derived from an original ancient document of the region discovered by her grandfather. The girl also reveals the wreckage of an airplane. Her grandfather was an English pilot who crashed in a nearby pond and spent the rest of his life there (hence the blue eyes, hence the legend that he came from the sky). Intrigued that a Westerner would believe the legend of flying people, Ujiie orders Wada to translate the grandfather's notes into Japanese. And Ujiie starts playing with the children, wearing his own pair of bamboo wings. Fishermen retrieve the tortoises that will allow them to leave the village. The batteries of Wada's voice recorder die. And Shen accidentally hits his head and remembers who he is. The villagers cooperate because they hope that the discovery of the precious jade will bring them investment and their village will become a modern city. Ujiie, however, has a nightmare in which he imagines that peaceful village turning into a city of bloody gang warfare like he has witnessed in his life. One night Shen sees Ujiie killing all the tortoises with a hatchet. Shen fears that Ujiie has gone insane and decides to leave asap anyway. Shen, Wada and the helmsman get the raft ready but Ujiie stops them at gunpoint and then prepares to execute them in a gorge in order to protect the village from civilization. Wada defends civilization: it was trains and planes that brought them there. And Wada argues that civilization doesn't have to exploit the village: they could set up rules for the company so that the environment and the local culture will be respected. Ujiie doesn't believe that it can be done. Wada challegens Ujiie to fly: if they fly, they will be able to prove that the local culture must be protected. Wada and Ujiie wear the bamboo wings, run and jump off a cliff, but of course they crash and then they have climb back up the steep ravine.
Wada's narrating voice tells us that they stayed a little longer in the village, but eventually he returned to Japan, unable to live in that primitive village, whereas Ujiie settled there and became an official in charge of monitoring development. We see documentary images of urban life in Tokyo where Wada lives with his wife and child. And we see an old Ujiie still trying to fly... and the sky is full of flying people.

Audition (1999), one of his silliest horror movies, is a poor adaptation of Ryu Murakami's novel "Audition" (1997), but a great parody of the genre.

A boy walk to the hospital carrying a present for his comatose mother. His father Aoyama is next to her. Years later the boy is a teenager and his father is a lonely businessman. The boy, who is dating a girl, encourages his father to look for a new wife. His business partner, who is a film producer, proposes that they hold an audition for the actress to impersonate a film heroine who will be exactly Aoyama's ideal wife. Aoyama is initially reluctant because this is a big lie (there is no film). Aoyama falls in love with one of the many applicants, Asami, who tells a painful story of having studied ballet for years and then getting injured; and begins dating her. His friend, the film producer, is suspicious because Asami gave them only one reference, and that reference is a man who has disappeared one year earlier. Asami's apartment seems to be empty. There is however a sack full of something. She spends the day waiting for the phone to ring, like a robot. Aoyama tells her that the film may be canceled and he invites her to a beach hotel and she gladly accepts. At home he tells his son that he is planning to propose to her at the beach. At the hotel she undresses in a sexy manner but then shows him horrible scars on her legs and tells him that she burnt hearself as a child. In the morning she has disappeared. Aoyama tries to find out about her but he only has her phone number. Determined to find her, he visits the ballet studio where she trained, but here's only a man on a wheelchair. This man starts asking him whether he touched her, had sex with her, etc, grinning. We see a flashback in which this man burns the legs of a child dancer, presumably a young Asami. Then the man gets up and Aoyama sees that his lower legs are prosthetic. Aoyama visits the bar where she said that she was working, but the bar has been closed for one year, since the owner was brutally murdered and mutilated. He also learns that the police recovered all the body parts but also... three additional extra fingers and an additional ear. Someone enters Aoyama's apartment and walks around (the camera only shows us what she sees). A hand puts some drug in his bottle. When Aoyama returns home and drinks from the bottle, he falls into a lengthy hallucination during which he imagines a dinner with Asami in which she tells him of being abused as a child, then his dead wife warning him against her, then Asami pulling down his pants and kissing his penis, then Asami turning into a child and still trying to have sex with him, then he in her room opening the mysterious sack and finding inside a mutilated man missing the feet, the tongue, one ear and three fingers. Asami appears in the hallucination carrying a bowl of vomit, and the man licks it like a cat while Asami turns into a child telling Aoyama that he's supposed to love only her. The hallucination continues with the child Asami dancing in the ballet studio and the studio owner burning her thighs. Then an adult Asami shows up in the studio with a very sharp piano wire and slits his throat. Then the images spin out of control. When Aoyama finally wakes up, he lies paralyzed on the floor. Asami enters the room and proceeds to torture him with long needles, She tells him the reason: she thinks that he and his partner audition a lot of girls to have sex with all of them, and he is just another person who betrayed and abused her. He is paralyzed but can fail the pain. She smiles when she calmly inserts needles in his eyes. She also promises to torture his son. She cuts off his left foot with piano wire. His son enters the room and finds him lying on the floor in pain. She hits the boy in the back of his head and... Aoyama wakes up. He is still in the beach hotel and Asami is quietly sleeping next to him. It was all a nightmare. She wakes up too and she is all sweet and loving. Aoyama proposes marriage and Asami accepts. They have sex again and again he falls asleep. The hallucination resumes where it had stopped: Asami is trying to kill his son but his son prevails and kills her. His son calls the police. Oayama turns his head and sees the dying Asami, also lying on the floor, and hears her words when they had the first date.

Deddo oa Araibu/ Dead or Alive (1999), another Yakuza film, opens with one of the most breathtaking scenes in the history of cinema, like Pulp Fiction (1994) on speed, boasts one of the most gruesome murders ever, and ends with one of the most incredible duels ever. The first 25 minutes are a wild epic Sergej Eisenstein-ian montage, but not for epic commemoration of collective glory: it is a fresco of depravity and murder. However, the movie also contains some grave melodrama, notably the scenes at the dilapidated and quasi-submerged cemetery for poor immigrants and the daughter who is terminally ill and will die in a terrorist attack just when she was about to be cured. Both families (the immigrant family of the gangster and the bland middle-class family of the cop) are protagonists, reflecting two kinds of tragedy that coexist in virtually every society. The duel that ends the movie is grotesquely implausible but maybe a touch of self-parody that was the only way that the director could outdo himself after such a series of extreme scenes.

Two crouching men turn to face the camera and count "One, two, one two three four". A woman falls from a high-rise building. A man grabs a bag of cocaine from the puddle of blood and brain. Then a series of brief disconnected scenes flash by: a Chinese pole dancer stripping in a night-club; cops harassing a girl in the street; people kissing; people eating; a middle-aged man sniffing cocaine from a very long table; two young men with guns in a convenience store; a man riding a noisy motorcycle; a blond man sodomizing a man in a public bathroom. The motorcyclist enters the bathroom and slits the throat of the sodomizer. The two armed young men walk into a restaurant and start shooting everybody. It will turn out that this is the biggest gang in town being exterminated by a new and much smaller gang. A man in the street picks up a gun from a clown, walks straight towards a car, jumps on the roof of the car and shoots down into the car, killing the cocaine-stoned man. It will turn out that this was a powerful Chinese mobster, Chang Feng. Cops examine the bodies of the victims. Someone calls men who are at the strip club and they all leave. The stripper ends her show, walks into her room and helps a man dress like a clown. The clown performs for a male audience in a presumably gay club. The main attraction is a bicycle attached to a big wheel. A man is tied to the big wheel. Another man sits on the bike and starts pedaling. The pedaling makes the wheel turn. The wheel starts turning so fast that we cannot see the crucified man anymore. The clown shoots darts at the wheel. When the biker stops, there's another man tied to the wheel, and the darts have missed the body.
The camera shows downtown Tokyo from the sky. Detective Jojima has assembled his men and is about to leave the police station but he is called to see the chief, who apparently spends all the time on the roof of the building. A man on a skateboard skates to a car inside the parking structure of the airport and tells the man inside that he wants to see their mother. They drive to a semi-submerged cemetery by the sea where he prays to his mother's grave. On his mother's grave Toji thanks his older brother Ryuichi (an ethnic Chinese with an Elvis Presley hearcut) for helping him study in the USA. Friends show up to celebrate his return and they goof around for a while amid the sinking tombstones. A schoolgirl leaves the house and her father, detective Jojima, and her mother discuss how to raise the money for the surgery that she needs. She reproaches him for sleeping on the couch. Jojima leaves the house and meets men who are exciting a dog so that it can sodomize a girl while a photographer takes picture of the act (presumably for a pornographic movie). Jojima wants information from the photographer, who is presumably an informer. Jojima visits a mobster who is meeting with a Chinese ally after their fellow mobster Chang Feng has been murdered, the murder that Jojima is investigating. The mobster tells Jojima that his gang is the victim of the recent spat of murders. We understand that Ryuichi's small new gang is taking on the big established gang: Ryuichi is the man who killed Chang Feng and his friends killed lots of gangsters at the restaurant. All of this happens in the first 25 minutes of the film.
A bum is eating and drinking on the sidewalk when a security van stops by a bank. The security agents pick up suitcases from the bank and take them into the van, chained to them. Ryuichi and two of his buddies are walking down the street towards them. Suddenly the bum gets up and attacks the security agents and Ryuichi's men coldly cuts the chain and take the suitcases. Ryuichi shoots a cop who happens to be passing by. A sexy girl wearing a miniskirt (presumably the stripper) opens the doors of another van. That's when the gangsters realize that the disabled Hitoshi is missing. He has taken part of the loot and is entering the subway. Hitoshi is a Chinese who lives with his mother in Japan. He stole the money to pay for them to return to China. One problem is that now his mother doesn't sound excited anymore about going back to China. The other problem is that Ryuichi easily finds him and kills him in front of the whole gang.
Jojima is still sleeping on the couch. His wife is worried about their financial situation and she gets a phone call that makes her cry. Jojima talks to the informer (the porn director) who tells him about a new drug route and gives him a contact name, Kaku. Jojima summons one of his cops, who has to show up with the 5-year-old child because his wife is away, and visits Kaku's restaurant. Kaku tells Jojina that a new guy named Ryu is causing trouble.
Meanwhile, Ryu's young brother rebels against his elder, disgusted by the killing of the disabled Hitoshi. Ryu reminds him that he studied abroad thanks to the money that Ryu made (illegally).
Ryu is talking to some drug dealers. To show his courage, he pulls the trigger on himself twice like in the Russian roulette. A man who works for the drug dealer tries it on himself and dies of the real bullet. At the end of her strip-tease show, Ryu tells his girlfriend (who is also an ethnic Chinese) that the deal with the Taiwanese drug dealer is done. She tells Ryu that she is sorry she lost his baby.
The porn director gets more information for Jojina: Ryu is a Chinese who came to Japan 20 years earlier and has been wreaking trouble ever since. Jojima interrogates some Chinese kids in Ryu's hometown and they tell him that Ryu was their idol. Jojima interrogates Ryu directly but he doesn't speak. On the contrary, Ryu gives him a lecture
Following Ryu's orders, his girl introduces herself, and offers herself, to the the yakuza boss. He senses a trap and kills her in the most horrible way: he drugs her after oral sex (apologizing that his penis is so small), forces her to get naked into a wading pool full of shit and then steps on her drowning her in the stinking sludge. The montage shows a few seconds of Jojima's daughter at the hospital (ignoring her mother who has been waiting for her) and a few seconds of the dead girl covered in shit dumped in an alley. Back home the mother tells Jojima that the daughter's condition has worsened and surgery is now urgent, but they don't have the money. Jojima tells her that he will find the money. Jojima and his team raid the gambling and prostitution rackets of the yakuza mobster. Then Jojima meets alone with this old man. The two have obviously known each other for a long time, and it appears that Jojima has tolerated the gambling and the prostitution, but now he demands a bribe: exactly the money he needs for his daughter's surgery, although only as a loan.
The scene shifts to a giant university hall with very few students in which a professor is lecturing about the crisis of Marxism, but the students are not paying attention at all. Ryu's brother is one of the students. Ryu came to pick him up. They meet alone after the lesson. The younger brother, the student Toji, has a different goal in life and wants nothing to do with crime. Ryu is ready to strike: his gang attacks the yakuza gang while it is hosting a big dinner for the Chinese ally. Jojima is dining with his wife and daughter when he is called on the phone by his partner who has infiltrated the gang. Ryu has killed almost all of the enemies but one, branding a sword like an ancient samurai, is about to kill him. Ryu is saving by his younger brother Toji, who surprisingly has decided to join in the massacre after all. One of Jojima's cops enters the scene and tries to arrest them all. Ryu's buddies laugh and shoot simultaneously at him, but, as he falls, the cop shoots one bullet that hits Ryuichi's brother. When Jojima arrives, he only finds dead bodies... and his friend the yakuza boss, the man who lent him the money for the surgery. Jojima pulls out his gun and shoots him in cold blood, thereby removing a dangerous witness of his corruption.
Ryuichi, surrounded by the only two surviving buddies, buries his brother Toji in the same flooded cemetery by the sea where their mother is buried. The death of Jojima's partner causes Jojima to swear death to Ryu. The death of Ryu's partner causes Ryu to swear death to Jojima, especially after Jojima busts the drug deal seizing all the Chinese drugs that were meant for Ryu. The daughter is finally going to the hospital for the surgery. Jojima's wife borrows his car to run some errands. The car explodes killing both women while he is watching from the balcony. Jojima resigns (delivers the letter to the chief who is playing the flute on the roof of the building).
Jojima finds Ryu and his buddies in a narrow unpaved road. The two cars face each other. They accelerate. Jojima does not swerve. Ryu's driver does at the last second, causing Ryu's car to crash. Jojima drives back towards them. One of them throws a grenade (and himself) at the car that explodes in the air. Jojima is still alive inside the car (year, right) and kills Ryu's last remaining buddy. Then Jojima yanks out his own left arm in a colossal spurt of blood and with the right arm shoots at Ryu who at the same time shoots at him. Neither dies. This scene turns more incredible every second. Jojima pulls out a bazooka, Ryuichi extracts his burning soul. They fire at each other. The collision of the rocket and burning sphere causes a nuclear explosion that destroys the entire country (viewed from space).
As unlikely as it sounds, this movie (that ended with the complete destruction not only of the gangs and of the cops but also of the entire nation) had two equally bizarre sequels: Dead or Alive 2 - Birds (2000) and Dead or Alive - Final (2002), which definitely entered sci-fi territory.

Psycho (2000) was a six-hour tv mini-series.

Hyoryu-gai/ The City Of Lost Souls (2000) is Miike's variation on Bonnie And Clyde, the romantic adventures of a Japanese-Brazilian gangster and his Chinese immigrant girl who are running away from both mafia and police.

Miike became even more prolific in the new century. Araburu Tamashii-tachi/ Agitator (2001) is a yakuza film, two and half hours long (three hours in the extended version). The film is certainly overlong but would be an interesting take on the genre (a slightly psychopatic but heroic gangster who fights the dirty politics of bosses who are not warriors anymore) if it weren't for an ending that seems improvised, hardly related to the rest of the film (and a little ridiculous: the killer has plenty of chances to kill but keeps postponing until he's the one who gets killed).

Kunihiko's gang is harassing a real estate developer when a fellow gangster, Koyasu, calls that their boss Yoichi Higuchi has been stabbed by the Shirane gang... but it was just a drill to test how long it takes them to drive back. Higuchi actually called them there because it's Kunihiko's birthday and he has prepared a surprise birthday party for him.
Kaito, the leader of one of the many gangs, meets in his limo with Mizushima and his henchman Muroi of the Shirane gang. Both Kaito and Mizushima are part of the Tenseikai clan. Kaito mentions that the leader of the Tenseikai clan is hospitalized and his 10,000 gang members ("soldiers") need a new leader, implying that he is vying for that position.
A Shirane gang led by a sociopath attacks prostitutes in a nightclub in Yokomizo's turf. Kunihiko's gang arrives and kicks them out, also killing the sociopath. Then Kunihiko's gang forces a 20-year-old kid, Hitoshi, to ingest a bottle of alcohol so they can tattoo his back while he is unconscious and draft him in the gang. The Yokomizo bosses summon Higuchi for killing a Shirane man by his gang, but Higuchi explains that his men had no choice. The Yokomizo bosses call Mizushima to arrange a peace meeting between the leaders of the two clans. The Yokomizo is led by an old man, who spends his spare time building on a miniature ship while his very sick wife agonizes in bed. Higuchi apologizes to Yokomizo, but the old man encourages him to fight on. That very night an assassin kills old Yokomizo. Mizushima reports to the Shirane boss that Yokomizo has been killed by someone seeking revenge for the killing of a Shirane member by Higuchi's gang. Shirane is worried that open war will erupt. Kunihiko and his buddies are out of control: they shoot two more Shirane gangsters. Mizushima suggests to ask Kaito for help to prevent an all-out war. Tsuchiya, the interim boss of the Yokomizo, convenes a meeting of the clan. They ask Higuchi to stop provocations while they negotiate with the Shirane clan. Tsuchiya meets with Kaito, Mizushima and Muroi but refuses a settlement until they offer him Shirane Kozo's head. Killing this big boss will also result in Mizushima becoming the new Shirane boss and legitimizing Tsuchiya as the boss of the Yokomizo. Kaito explains that he then expects Mizushima and Yokomizo to make peace and become part of the Tenseikai syndicate, and a helper explains that Kaito is most likely to become the head of that syndicate. They give Tsuchiya only one other option: death. Told by Tsuchiya of the plan to assassinate the Shirane boss, Higuchi again offers his men, i.e. Kunihiko. Mizushima sends Shirane Kozo to the ambush and informs Tsuchiya. Kunihiko's gang easily kills Shirane Kozo while he is dining with a sexy girl. A flashback shows the young Yoichi Higuchi when he decided to leave his small town to become a yakuza in the big city, and promised his little friend Kunihiko to make him one of his soldiers. When he reports back to Tsuchiya's henchman Torii, Kunihiko is told not to worry retaliation from the Shirane clan but is also asked to stay out of town. Higuchi is disgusted when he sees Mizushima of the Shirane gang and Tsuchiya of his own Yokomizo clan shake hands and make peace. Higuchi cuts all ties with the Yokomizo clan. Kunihiko hears of it and returns to town but is warned by Torii to be careful not to antagonize both Yokomizo and Shirane clans at the same time. Mizushima and Tsuchiya swear brotherhood at a solemn ceremony presided by Kaito. Kunihiko and his buddies are determined to sabotage the peace. First they attack the headquarters of the Yokomizo clan and then they kidnap Muroi. They hang him upside down from the ceiling and beat him savagely until he confesses that Mizushima betrayed Shirane Kozo. Kunihiko meets Tsuchiya and threatens to deliver Muroi's confession that he has on tape to the Shirane clan, after which both Mizushima's and Tsuchiya's lives would be worth nothing. The warmongering Kunihiko, who hates the peace, demands that Tsuchiya steps aside and appoints his boss Yoichi Higuchi as head of the Yokomizo clan. Kunihiko also adds that Higuchi is unaware of this plot. Mizushima orders the assassination of both Higuchi and Kunihiko. When he hears of the trouble, Higuchi sends his henchman Torii to yell at Kunihiko that it is foolish to fight a war against everybody and in any case he, Higuchi, is not interested in the job. Higuchi picks up Kunihiko and takes him to a sauna where they reminisce about their childhood. Kunihiko is still determined to fight. Higuchi advises Kunihiko to accept the fact that Kaito won and simply trade Muroi with Mizushima for some money. The exchange takes place (with Higuchi physically delivering a bloodied and scarred Muroi in a wheelchair) Tsuchiya delivers the money because Mizushima is scared of Higuchi's gang. As Higuchi is walking back towards Kunihiko, Tsuchiya's men start shooting: they kill Higuchi and wound Kunihiko. Kunihiko kills the killer but he lost his best friend and mentor. Tsuchiya wants the Higuchi gang back in his Yokomizo clan and appoints Torii new head of the gang, as Torii is willing to accept the deal. Kunihiko refuses to join but accepts to dissolve his gang, especially since his men hold him responsible for the death of Higuchi. In fact, Kunihiko apologizes to the widow when he goes to pay his respects to the dead friend, and leaves her his cut of the Muroi ransom. But then Kunihiko and his loyal soldier Otomo walk into the barber shop where Mizushima is being served and kill him and his bodyguards. Informed of the killing, Kaito (who just had to deal with his son's Yasuhiro unhappiness) appoints Muroi as new leader of the Shirane clan. Kunihiko then looks for Tsuchiya and finds him full of cocaine having licking the leg of a young girl. Instead of shooting him, Kunihiko beats him furiously to death while the girl watches indifferent. The surviving bosses of the Yokomizo clan listens to the tape of Muroi's confession and realize that the old Yokomizo was betrayed and they were all fooled. A soldier name Numata kidnaps Kunihiko's ex-soldier Sakuraba in order to blackmail Kunihiko. It turns out that Kunihiko had killed his son and now Numata was revenge. Kunihiko walks into the trap but his loyal soldiers Otomo and Yoshio show up, and they drag the frightened Hitoshi with them. Numata kills Yoshio, who was wasting time trying to console Hitoshi. Kunihiko and Otomo corner Numata but Numata points his gun at Sakuraba who is tied to a tree. Kunihiko then drops his gun, ready to die for Yoshio's freedom. Instead Numata still kills Sakuraba and then shoots Kunihiko but the loyal Otomo jumps in front of Kunihiko and blocks the bullets with his body. Kunihiko uses Otomo as a shield to shoot Numata dead. One night a delirious Kunihiko drives a truck packed with dynamite into the Kaito's compound, with the hapless Hitoshi on the passenger's seat.

Katakuri-ke no Kofuku/ The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001), a loose remake of Ji-woon Kim's The Quiet Family (1998), mixes animation, musical, farce and horror, with hints at the mitteleuropean operetta of the early 20th century and satirical takes on stereotypes of Broadway and Bollywood musicals. The plot would be relatively linear and harmless, if it weren't for sudden detours into grotesque surrealism, largely a consequence of that madcap chaos of genres. The overall tone is farcical: amateurs indulging in awkward ballets prevail over rare scenes of gruesome deaths.

Four mysterious women wearing sunglases cross the salon of a restaurant where a young woman is sitting alone at a table and preparing to eat her soup. As she dips her spoon in the bowl, a clay toy sticks its head out. She screams, the toy steals her tongue and flies away with it. The toy lands in a place where it can eat the tongue, but is in turn eaten by a crow, which is then mauled by another toy.
A crow shits on a man's forehead. A little girl tells the story of her family while burying something in the soil. Her grandfather Masao lost his job as a shoe salesman and decided to use his savings to build a guesthouse in those idyllic mountains where a road was supposed to be built. Unfortunately, the road has never been completed and nobody visits that remote mountain region. Four generations of the same family (six people) live in the guesthouse that has never had a guest: Masao's elderly father, Masao's loving wife Terue, their son Masayuki, their daughter Shizue, and her daughter Yurie, the one who is narrating the events. Masayuki is fed up: he has lost faith that anyone will ever come to the guesthouse. His sister Shizue is divorced. The mysterious four women of the first scene pass by but are terrified by a lunar eclipse. During a violent storm that caused a blackout, a stranger comes to the guesthouse, their first guest ever. Unseen by them, the taciturn stranger performs a strange astral ritual in the room. When Masayuki brings him a beer, the stranger asks "what would you do if the world came to an end tomorrow"? The following morning they find out that the guest committed suicide (scene of the family surrounding the cadaver shot from the ceiling). This is the pretext for the first song and ballet. Masao decides to bury the cadaver and not report it to the police, because the news of the suicide could destroy any hope of ever having guests. They bury him by the lake nearby. Meanwhile, the mother and the little girl are out shopping. Shizue falls in love with a man dressed like a navy officer, Richard, who pretends to be a British officer and spy, and related to the royal family; obviously, a congenital liar. They engage in a tropical dance in which they declare each other's love. One of the mysterious women wearing sunglasses passes by. Masao has nightmares about the dead guest. Masao suspects that his son stole the wallet missing from the body of the guest. It turns out that his son is a former convict. Next, a celebrity shows up: a sumo wrestler accompanied by a little schoolgirl. Shizue does not have time to close the door of their room that the fat man jumps on the little girl and proceeds to have sex. The family doesn't seem shocked at all that the man is having sex with an elementary-school girl. The son spies on them from the window (and eventually falls off the ladder). The wrestler has a heart attack and dies, and his weight kills the girl beneath him. Masao, again, decides to keep the tragedy secret and to bury them outside. Masayuki is the only one who objects, tired of the whole business. Richard calls Shizue pretending to be flying over Iraq when in fact he is in a miserable apartment nearby. The family is surprised when four young people, ordinary people, show up for lunch. Masao learns that road construction is still halted but workers are digging around the lake. Richard, still dressed like an officer, is walking in that area and reaches the guesthouse on foot, dirty, sweaty, breathless. Shizue is so excited that she faints. He seems to have diarrhea and lies on the bed of the guestroom, where he finds the missing wallet. Downstairs the grand parents sing a romantic song, and do so karaoke-style, inviting the viewers of the film to sing along. Richard romances Shizue to pay for his fare to England, where he claims to be related to the queen. The old greatgrandfather is spying on them and, realizing that Richard is just a con man, attacks him with a log. They fight and Shizue accidentally causes them to roll down a ravine. The film switches back to animation to show how the two are hanging on a deadly drop, saved by a rope, and Richard is trying to cut the rope below his hands so that the old man will fall to his death. Shizue throws a stone to kill Richard before he can kill her granpa. Later Richard shows up at the guesthouse walking like a zombie. He grabs a phone and tries to call his many lovers to apologize. Shizhue still believes his royal crap until her granpa shows her that the uniform is a rental costume. They also find the missing wallet. Meanwhile, the construction workers find one of the buried bodies by the lake. In the middle of another storm they hear someone knocking at the door and someone playing a flute. A family of four is looking for a room. Now the Katakuris are terrified that these people will die too, and therefore the men start digging a grave even before having dead bodies. The family, out on a hike, finds them digging and asks what the hole is for. A stranger falls inside the hole and loses consciousness. The little girl follows her dog and finds the four decomposing corpses that have been dug up. The family joins her for a song to optimism with the dead guests providing the counterpoint. The earth shakes. They take the young man to the guesthouse, where the family of four has disappeared. Police cars are on their way. The young man wakes up, panics and flees, but then returns to the guesthouse when he meets the family armed with shovels (coming back from having buried the family of four?) The police arrive at the guesthouse. Song and ballet: Masao and his father argue who should take responsibility for everything. The stranger takes Shizue's mom hostage, afraid that the cops are there for him. They are: he has killed his wife in another guesthouse. Masao talks him into letting Terue free, and Masayuki saves his life when the stranger charges to stab him. The cops arrest the stranger. An explosion shakes the earth: a nearby volcano is erupting. The film switches to animation again: the lava rolls down the slopes of the volcano, throws everybody in the air, and aims for the guesthouse. However, the following morning they are all alive, and the guesthouse is still standing. Masao's father dies of a heart attack, but the surviving five are still full of enthusiasm.

Ichi the Killer (2001), another yakuza film, was an adaptation of Hideo Yamamoto 's manga (2001). Miike seems to focus on the three sadistic figures: the hypnotizer who sets in motion the entire massacre by manipulating the mind of a traumatized boy, the boy who has grown up to become a serial killer, and the masochistic gangster who specializes in cruel tortures. The one that lends his name to the title of the movie is actually the one who looks more caricatural, almost mocking superheroes (who are usually introverted kids turning into supernatural beings the moment they were their costume). The film boasts some great scenes but also an implausible plot with many cheesy detours and useless complications.

A girl is beaten and raped by her pimp. A young man is watching terrified from the window. Three men in a car, armed with bags and dressed in overalls, receive a phone call that simply broadcasts the last moans of someone who is dying. They walk up the stairs of an apartment building and enter one apartment where a massacre has been carried out. They clean up methodically and restore the apartment to its original state. It turns out this is the hideout of Anjo's gang, and the "massacre" was actually the murder of that one man, except that the murderer, named Ichi, split the body in small pieces. Anjo's gang, led by Anjo's right-hand man Kakihara, who has scars all over his face, only know that Anjo disappeared with a huge amount of money and a teenage prostitute. (Presumably these are the couple at the beginning, that the man on the balcony killed). At a night-club Kakihara interrogates Anjo's girlfriend Karen, who thinks Anjo is dead. At the same club the men who cleaned up the apartment are celebrating. Their boss is Jijii. Kakihara knows him and tells him that he will be rewarded if he provides any information about what happened to Anjo. The scene switches to a restaurant where a waiter is being harassed by his boss. The waiter starts crying. The waiter is the same man who was standing on the balcony, Ichi. Jijii tells Kakihara that a rival, Suzuki, has kidnapped Anjo. Kakihara kidnaps Suzuki and tortures him in the most cruel manner until Suzuki's boss Funaki arrives to prove Suzuki's innocence: Jijii lied to pit one gang against the other. They are watched on cameras: the same crew that cleaned up the apartment after the murder has planted cameras so they can watch what goes on. The man in charge of surveillance is Kano, who knows the gangster but won't be recognized by them because he had plastic surgery. A flashback shows the prostitute, Sailor, her face covered in bruises, meeting the shy man, Ichi, in a restaurant and telling him that she wants the pimp dead. Meanwhile, Kakihara proves what a masochist he is by cutting his tongue in front of the various bosses. Now we realize that the scars on his face are probably self-inflicted wounds. The gang finds Kano and realize that he has been watching them. They recognize him and stick him inside a television set to torture him. They find the money that was missing after Anjo's disappearance. He admits that he helped clean up the apartment, but tells them that it was was Ichi who killed Anjo, and that Ichi is now after Kakihara. Kano also tells everybody that Kakihara had a sexual and masochistic relationship with the boss Anjo: Kakihara is desperate to find Anjo because Kakihara misses Anjo's tortures. A man whose head is completely bandaged (Suzuki?) swears to kill Kakihara while holding in his hand a body part that Kakihara severed from his face (the nose?) Two masked swordsmans break into his hospital room: they want the girl whom he kidnapped, the girl who disappeared with Anjo. He swears that he knows nothing of it. They are about to behead him when they receive a phone call that tells them that it was Kakihara. This way Suzuki is even more determined than ever to get rid of Kakihara, but we see that the two masked men are actually Jijii and his associate, spreading lies to cause a gang war.
A flashback shows what happened at the beginning: the pimp beating the prostitute, Ichi wearing a black costume watching them from behind the drapes, Ichi having a flashback of his high-school friends raping a girl, the pimp attacking him, Ichi crying, and then suddenly Ichi splitting the pimp's head and his entire body in two with a karate move and a sharp tool, the disfigured girl, Sailor, terrified of him, who told her he wanted to take the pimp's place beating her, she attacking him and he killing her too (blood gushing out of her neck), and finally he crying alone.
The bandaged man (Suzuki) is one of the bosses. They decide to expel Kakihara, but he defiantly takes over the Anjo clan. The bandaged man calls Jijii and his associate and offers them money to kill Kakihara. Jijii visits Ichi, who is delirious about killing Sailor. He is obviously mentally unstable. Jijii reminds him of when he witnessed the rape in high school and he didn't do anything to save the victim, whose name was Tachibana. Ichi says that he wanted to rape her, not save her, that he felt that she wanted him to rape her. Jijii slaps him in the face and wakes him up.
Prostitutes watch motionless while Kakihara pulls flesh off the face of their pimp. The glamorous Karen walks in and gladly joins in the torture, having an orgasm while the flesh disintegrates.
One night, while biking home, Ichi sees three boys bullying another child, Takeshi, whose father has been fired from the police for losing his gun. Ichi, cowardly, pretends not to see but one of the children makes the mistake of kicking his bicycle and Ichi kicks back. Then, terrified, Ichi rides away in a hurry.
Karen is a sadistic bitch and the masochistic Kakihara needs violence, but he is willing to be her boyfriend only if she can really hurt him. She flogs him but he keeps asking for more, obviously used to much more brutality under Anjo. He is disappointed that she cannot hit harder.
Jijii phones Ichi and orders him to carry out a massacre, telling him that these gangsters look like the children who bullied him in school. He gets into his costume that has some sharp cutting tool. Then walks into the gang's apartment and slices them all to small pieces. He cries that he doesn't want to kill, and lies crying on the steps outside. Just then the child, Takeshi, walks down the stairs and finds Ichi crying. Takeshi tells him that he wants to become friend but Ichi runs away scared.
Kakihara escaped the massacre but, when he arrives to witness the carnage, is amazed. Ichi is still crying in the stairwell while undressing and a camera is watching him. It turns out that Takeshi is the son of Kaneko, who works for Kakihara since he was expelled rom the police. Takeshi practices karate on the roof of the building while his father is burning the bodies of the dead men. Kaneko has been commanded to find Ichi, even if nobody has ever seen his face. By coincidence, Kaneko is walking down an alley when he sees a bouncer beating Ichi because he didn't have money to pay for the girls. Kaneko too used to be alone and desperate, and he remembers when someone saved him from a similar situation in a similar alley. Kaneko saves Ichi from the beating and then buys him a meal at a restaurant. Ichi dosn't seem to understand anything that Takashi's father says to him. In a flashback we see that someone fed Kaneko when he was at his lowest point and Kakihara was eating at the table behind them, ready to lure him into the underworld. In another flashback Kaneko and Takashi are sitting at the restaurant and Takashi is reminding his dad that mom left for another man. Kaneko tells Ichi that he was once helped by a man who has recently been murdered (no less than Anjo himself) and that now he feels his duty to avenge the killing (not knowing that the killer is the man sitting in front of him).
Jijii gives Ichi six envelopes with pictures of the men who bullied him and of those who watched and didn't do anything. Ichi is tired of killing but Jijii wants him to become a man. Ichi doesn't want to kill anymore and runs away.
Kakihara calls for his friends, the twin brothers Jiro and Saburo, two sadistic detectives, and tells them that a Chinese pimp can take them to Ichi. The easiest way to find the Chinese is to find his beloved prostitute Myu-Myu.
Jijii is playing a board game with Karen and shows her pictures of Ichi. He explains that the introverted Ichi is mentally ill and his mind can be manipulated through hypnosis, of which Jijii is a master. Jijii made him believe that he used to be bullied in school and that woman who defended him, Tachibana, was raped in front of him. Ichi had actually killed his own parents.
Meanwhile, the gang has found Myu-Myu, a girl who has sex with Jijii's associate Long. The twins severe her nipples among other sophisticated tortures while Kaneko and another bodyguard mount guard outside. Left alone with her, Kaneko loses his mind and kicks the poor girl to death.
Karen came up with her own perverted plan. When she spots Ichi in the street, she hits him with her car and then pretends to be Tachibana, the woman who was raped for defending him. Initially he is ashamed because he still feels guilty that he didn't defend her. She then toys with his psychology, pretending that she actually wanted him to rape her, that she yearns for a sadist with no emotions who would slice her in little pieces She gets on her knees and performs oral sex on him. At the end he smiles: he now thinks that they all want him to do what they say they don't want him to do, so he doesn't feel guilty anymore. He grabs his sharp blade and she realizes that she now risks her life. She tries to escape but he cuts her to pieces, convinced that she is saying "no" because she means "yes".
Meanwhile, Kakihara and the twins have captured Long. Kakihara sets out to cut Long's penis while the twins giggle amused. One of the gangster spots Jijii spying on them, and, remembering that Jijii is the one who caused all the trouble by accusing Suzuki, chases him. Jijii turns out to be more than a hypnotist: he takes his clothes off and shows big muscles and easily kills the gangster. Kaneko finds his dead body. The twins are delighted to see that the cadaver is all broken up. Left alone with Long, one of the twins tries to yank his arm off and keeps pulling until he succeeds.
Ichi opens the six envelopes. He is ready to kill the last six gangsters: Karen, Long, the twins, Kakihara's bodyguard and Kakihara himself. But he gets one additional constraint: he has to respect the man who helped him, Kaneko, because he is his own long-lost brother. At the same time, Kaneko is dreaming of killing Ichi to prove his worth to the gang. Kakihara is excited to finally meet Ichi in person, whom he envisions as the worst sadist in the world. Ichi kills Saburo. Kakihara, Kaneko and Jiro find the dead bodies of Long, Jiro, and Myu-Myu in the room. Kaneko's son Takeshi is in the stairwell, and recognizes Ichi as the guy who used karate to help him against the bullies. Ichi and Kakihara duel on the roof until Kaneko appears. Ichi recognizes him as his elder brother and stops fighting. Instead, Ichi walks towards Kaneko to hug him. Kaneko shoots Ichi in the legs to stop him from advancing. Ichi instintively strikes back with a karate move and slits Kaneko's throat. Takeshi watches his dad die in a torrent of blood. Ichi, lying on the floor, cries and apologizes to Takeshi. Kakihara has watched the scene incredulous that Ichi is truly demented, and deeply disappointed they are not having their deadly duel. Kakihara lifts Ichi to his feet and demands a fight but Ichi keeps crying like a baby. Kakihara gets on his knees and moans that nobody is left to kill him. He deafens himself by inserting long needles into his own ears. Takeshi kicks Ichi and Ichi, again, can't help his automatic reflexes and kills the boy. Now Ichi is ready to jump at Kakihara like a ferocious beast. Ichi throws Kakihara down the stairwell and Kakihara is ecstatic while dying as if he were riding a rollercoaster.
Jijii arrives, checks Kakihara's dead body (that shows no wounds), and seems upset: Kakihara was not killed by Ichi but fell to his death, which means that the duel only happened in his mind and that Takeshi is still alive. Jijii then leaves without trying to find what happened to Ichi, which probably means that Ichi is dead, killed by Takeshi.
In the last scene, schoolchildren walk by in a park without noticing that Jijii is hanging from one of the branches of a big tree. A young man turns and stares at the camera. This is a fast-forward to the future, when a grown-up Takeshi has taken his revenge on Jijii and is ready to become the next Ichi.

The home video Visitor Q (2001), whose topic is reminiscent of Pier Paolo Pasolini's Teorema, Sogo Ishii's Gyaku Funsha Kazoku/ Crazy Family (1984), Masayuki Suo's Hentai Kazoku - Aniki no Yomesan/ Abnormal Family (1983) and Francois Ozon's Sitcom (1998), is a fresco of adult decadence disguised as a documentary on teenage decadence. The difference between this film and its predecessors is that the man is a reporter obsessed with cinema verite and everything gets videotaped. And of course the whole story is more grotesque (grotesquely surreal) than it is horror or porno. Towards the end the film gets increasingly farcical. Antonioni, Bunuel and Pasolini all merged in one.

The video opens like a didactic documentary on conteporary teenagers. A teenage girl, Miki, and a middle-aged business man are in a bedroom. She explains that she does it for money. She starts undressing and quotes the price for her services. They take pictures of each other. He finally starts undressing, after repeating many times that this is wrong, and she takes pictures of him naked. She calmly takes pictures of him licking her genitals. At the end, as he regrets what he has done, she charges him more for ejaculating too soon. He asks her to promise not to tell anyone, especially her mother, and reproaches her for prostituting herself instead of studying: she is his daughter and she has run away from home. Then suddenly he realizes that a camera has been videotaping the whole scene. The businessman takes a train. A punk suddenly hits him on the head with a big stone. A kid, Takuya, beats up his own mother and she seems to be used to it. Then calmly walks to his room, wears a mask and lies on his bed. Suddenly kids call his name and start throwing fireworks at his room's window. Her mother walks slowly to her room and does drugs. Late at night, a bandage on his head, the businessman is walking back home and is afraid of every noise. Sure enough the same punk attacks him again. Nonetheless, the two end up eating at the same table in a house, waited on by the violent boy and his meek mother. The kid beats up her mother again while the two men continue to eat. the businessman leaves, politely bidding good night, and the punk smokes a cigarette while listening to the boy's mother screaming. The businessman lies on the bed when the battered mother walks in. She lovingly removes his pants to have sex, but he claims to be tired and just falls asleep. The punk (the "visitor") is staying with them. He walks into the son's bedroom and asks him where his sister is. The son replies that she doesn't live with them anymore. The father wakes up in the middle of the night and starts watching a video he made i which he wanted to interview some young men and they raped him (and joyfully videotaped the anal sex). The following morning the mother is limping around, trying to avoid her son, while the businessman and the punk are having breakfast at the same table. The businessman takes off for work. While he is crossing a river on a pedestrian bridge, something catches his attention. He stops and starts filming: a group of boys are bullying and beating up is own son. His father is pleased with the scene. His mother is putting oilments on the wounds on her back caused by her son's beatings. She dresses up and leaves for work, leaving the punk alone at home. The businessman meets a young woman in a restaurant and tells her that he has been hit on the head twice. She reminds him that they had agreed not to meet for a while, but he has important news: he has a great idea for a show, the most realistic show, he himself covering his son being bullied by other kids. She reminds him of the scandal caused by the video that he showed of himself being raped (obviously his dream as a television reporter is to make the most realistic videos ever). Appalled by his madness, she leaves without a word. Meanwhile, his wife is having sex with another man, who is turned on by her limping and the bruises all over her body. He wants to be whipped. She prostitutes herself to get the money to buy drugs. Back home she finds the punk in her daughter's bedroom. He quickly seduces her and squeezes her nipples until she has an orgasm (milk sprinkling on her daughter's photograph), while her son peeps at them from outside. At dinner the son stares at his father and at the punk without eating and without saying a word. Then suddenly he throws a bowl of hot soup at her. This time the mother walks back to the kitchen, grabs a steak knife and throws at him missing him narrowly. The father and the punk simply smile. Later the bullies attack the house with more fireworks, causing massive damage: the mother and the punk hardly move, the father grabs the camera and videotapes everything, ecstatic. The next morning the father again videotapes while the bullies humiliate his son. This time the punk is with him, and so is the young female reporter who didn't want to hear about this project. The reporter is disgusted and tries to leave, but the father attacks her, strips her naked while rolling down a ravine, tries to masturbate her and accidentally kills her. The visitor has followed them with the camera and filmed everything. Panicking, the businessman tells the punk to get garbage bags: they are going to cut the corpse in little pieces. The visitor walks inside the house and asks the mother for garbage bags. She reveals that she is wearing one and starts sprinkling milk for her nipples. Outside the businessman is videotaping himself while preparing to cut up the naked corpse (yet another hyper-realistic documentary). But then suddenly he gets an erection and, after announcing it to the camera that is still rolling, he can't help raping the corpse (holding the camera above his head). When he is done, he realizes that shit has been coming out of her body. To make matters worse, he can't disentangle himself from the corpse: his penis is stuck inside the vagina. The punk is watching the mother sprinkling milk all around the house and he is wearing an umbrella to avoid getting wet. The husband has to call for help. The mother is just having an orgasm. She hears him and tries to help but nothing works. The visitor keeps filming a scene that becomes increasingly ridiculous. Finally, the mother gives him a shot of heroin, and that does the job. They can dispose of the corpse, which is now stiff like iron and is beginning to smell. The proceeding gets interrupted because the son arrives, still chased by the bullies; except that this time the father and the mother run outside armed with knives and slaughter them. The parents then set out to cut up the corpses and carry them somewhere in the trunk of the car. The visitor finds the son lying on his face on the floor of the kitchen where her mother sprinkled all her milk. The boy asks the visitor why he came to visit them. He doesn't answer, just smiles. The boy thanks him anyway. Then he gets up and there is no visitor in front of him. Meanwhile his parents are sawing the belly of the corpse and having a lot of fun. The visitor is walking down a street when he meets the daughter, who offers him sex. He stares at her without speaking, nor smiling, and then grabs a big stone... When she walks back home she has a big bruise on her face. The house is a mess. She opens a window and sees that her parents are outside, making love: her father is suckling on one of her mother's nipples, while she is holding the other one towards her. The daughter cries and smiles. She walks outside and joins them, suckling on her mother's other nipple while her father continues to suckle on the same nipple.

Gozu (2003), a straight-to-video production written by Sakichi Sato, abandons the horror genre for a metaphysical thriller with a straightforward linear plot. The film, however, has a surreal cast of characters and a psychoanalytical undercurrent, building up to a paroxystic finale. The story is relatively plain until the protagonist eats a "complimentary dessert" that sends him throwing up in the bathroom. From that point on all sort of unlikely events take place, his nightmares become more frequent, and his sexual repression becomes more vivid. The last scene, that fuses defloration, castration, and birthpangs is Miike's at his best (or at his worst, depending on taste).

Gangsters meet for a routine update. One of them, the neurotic Ozaki, eyes two women outside the window, fondling a little harmless dog. He suddenly warns the boss that the little dog is a "yakuza attack dog", specifically trained to kill gangsters like them. Ozaki runs outside and brutally murders the dog in front of the two terrified women. This is not the first time that Ozaki has showed sign of declining mental health and the boss charges his shy spectacled brother Minami with the mission to dispose of him. Minami drives Ozaki out of town. Ozaki confesses that he wants to get rid of the boss, an old man obsessed with sex. Minami is loyal to Ozaki because Ozaki once saved his life. Ozaki makes fun of Minami's virginity and gives him a gift to be used on his first sexual experience: red-lace panties. But Ozaki is still a paranoid man: he sees a car in the rear mirror and decides that they are being followed. He forces Minami to stop, then walks out and prepares to shoot the harmless woman who is driving the car. Minami has to use force to stop him and then tells the woman to drive away. While Ozaki is unconscious, Minami phones the boss. The two discuss that Ozaki is gone crazy and the boss orders him to take him to a junkyard where he will be disposed of. Ozaki is driving at high speed but suddenly realizes that the road dead-ends at the sea. He hits the brakes, and Ozaki hits his head against the dashbord, dying on the spot. Ironically, Minami has accomplished his mission.
Minami stops for a coffee at a restaurant run by a weird man. There are only two patrons in the restaurant. Minami gets sick eating the complimentary dessert and runs to the bathroom to throw up. When he comes back, Ozaki has disappeared. Either he was not dead or his body has been stolen. Minami calls the boss, who talks to him while having sex with a girl (having inserted a spoon in his own anus). The boss directs him to the Shiroyama gang. The address turns out to be wrong, but Minami gets a flat tire in front of a man whose face is half white, Nosechi, and this man takes him to the junkyard where Minami finds the "Shiroyama Crew" sign, which is really just a decrepit van with one person inside. This man promises to help him. Minami is escorted to an inn run by an old lady: "service" is the inn's motto, and she and her autistic brother go out of their way to please him. After he takes a bath, the old lady wants to wash his back and, despite his protestations, breaks into the bathroom scantily dressed, showing him her big breast and pressing it to show him that it squirts milk. While he is having dinner, milk starts dropping from the ceiling. he dreams of driving around with his brother who makes fun of his virginity. In the morning he is reluctant to drink a glass of milk that comes with breakfast. Nosechi got injured overnight but still shows up to help the search for Ozaki. The people at the restaurant recognize Nosechi, an old high school friend. Both the owner and the two patrons pretend that they don't remember Minami. Nosechi dumps him for them. Back at the motel the landlady confides to Minami that her autistic brother Kazu is a medium, and she offers to have him help Minami. She savagely whips her brother's naked back trying to evoke a spirit, but the man keeps swearing that he can't do that: we realize that she may have been abusing her brother ever since. Meanwhile, Nosechi is terrified: the restaurant is supposed to have died three years earlier in a car accident but now he is there serving coffee... Anyway, they saw a man who resembled Ozaki and directed him to a shop for glutinous rice. The owner of this business directs Minami to a sake export store whose owner is a woman from the USA. She sends him to the very inn run by the sister and brother. Minami finds the autistic brother carefully bottling his sister's milk, which seems to squirt endlessly from her breasts. She admits that someone came after Minami, and, not having any room available, she gave Ozaki the storage room, whose access is a hidden door. She adds that Ozaki left without paying the bill. Minami spends the night waiting in the hidden room in case Ozaki returns. Minami falls asleep and dreams of a cow-headed man who licks his face and hands him a book. When he wakes up, Minami finds a message from Ozaki written on a scroll, giving him an appointment at the junkyard. Minami gets in the car and drives to the junkyard. The two people who work there recognize his sketch (which is so generic that it could be anybody's) and confess that they accidentally pressed Ozaki when pressing a car. They show him the razor-thin remains, hanging from a coat hanger. Minami walks away devastated; but he finds a young sexy woman in the back seat of his car who says that she is Ozaki. Obviously he doesn't believe her, but, to prove her identify, she starts reciting the last words that Ozaki said to Minami in the car. She knows that he is still a virgin and even knows how he masturbated the first time. Only Ozaki knew these things. Minami stops to make a phone call to the boss, to tell him that Ozaki has been disposed of, and then the girl disappears, just like Ozaki did. But this time Minami sees what happened to her: she hitched a ride from a truck driver. Minami attacks the truck driver and takes back the slut. That night he explores her body while she is sleeping. She wakes up and offers herself to him, but nothing happens. When he reports back to the boss, he sounds as crazy as the Ozaki. She introduces herself to the boss as Sakiko, daughter of a gangster who was indebted to the boss. The sex-crazed boss, Azamawari, immediately proceeds to seduce her, and she doesn't seem to mind. The boss needs to stick a big spoon into his asshole in order to get an erection. Minami is jealous. Minami climbs the building just in time to interrupt the sexual act, although he remains stuck outside and needs help from the boss to avoid crashing to his death. They fight and the boss ends up impaling himself in the spoon, which offers Minami the opportunity to electrocute him with a lamp. The girl, still lying in bed, has been watching everything speechless. MInami and Sakiko drive away together. He asks her to wear the red-lace panties that Ozaki gave him. She offers herself again. He gets naked and she is impressed by her penis. She keeps referring to herself as his "brother" (i.e. as Ozaki). His penis enters her vagina but then gets stuck inside. Minami cannot disentangle himself. He crawls backwards on the floor dragging her body around. Finally with a superhuman effort he manages to pull his body away from her but his penis remains stuck inside her vagina. The bloody severed penis morphs into a hand. The hand retracts inside the vagina. A head starts emerging from the vagina: Ozaki's head. She is giving birth to the adult Ozaki. The last scene shows the trio walking happily in the streets of the city.

One Missed Call (2003) is an adaptation of Yasushi Akimoto's horrod novel "Chakushin Ari".

A supernatural samurai is the protagonist of the violent saga Izo (2004), about an immortal samurai, a prelude to the superhero of Zebraman (2004) and Zebraman 2 - Attack on Zebra City (2010).

YatterMan (2009) is the adaptation of a television cartoon.

Jusannin no Shikaku/ 13 Assassins (2010), a remake of Eiichi Kudo's Jusannin no Shikaku (1963), is a samurai movie that contains a 45-minute battle sequence.

Yasha Ga Ike/ Demon Pond (2005) is a traditional kabuki play, and Yokai Daisenso/ The Great Yokai War (2005) is a children's fantasy story.

46-Okunen no Koi/ Big Bang Love - Juvenile A (2006) and Kamisama no Pazuru/ God's Puzzle (2008), based on a novel by Shinji Kimoto, are detours into science fiction.

Crows Zero (2007)

Harakiri (2011) is a mediocre remake of Masaki Kobayashi's film (1962).

Aku no Kyoten/ Lesson of the Evil (2012) is an adaptation of Yusuke Kishi's horror novel.

Wara no tate/ Straw Shield (2013), the adaptation of a Kazuhiro Kiuchi novel, is a mediocre thriller.

Lesson of the Evil (2012) is another horror movie.

Kami-sama no Iu Tori/ As the Gods Will (2014) adapted the first installment of the manga series written by Muneyuki Kaneshiro and illustrated by Akeji Fujimura.

Over Your Dead Body (2014) and Yakuza Apocalypse (2015) are also horror films.

Terra Formars (2016) is a sci-fi movie about giant cockroaches on Mars.

(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )