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Overall Rating

Awesome: 10.81%
Worth A Look: 21.62%
Average: 24.32%
Pretty Bad37.84%
Total Crap: 5.41%

4 reviews, 13 user ratings

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by Brian McKay

"Wierd enough to be intrigiung, too weird to be compelling"
3 stars

Takashi Miike could almost be likened to a Japanese David Cronenberg. That's really all that need be said in order for one to know that Takashi-san makes some strange films (AUDITION, ICHI THE KILLER), with GOZU (Cow Head) being no exception.

How much you like “weird” will determine how much you enjoy a film like Gozu. I happen to like weird (and lots of it), but I also like my weirdness to have some kind of central, compelling theme driving it . . . and this is where Gozu falls short. However, amid all the randomness, several choice nuggets of dark comedy and a few bouts of sheer mindfuckery can be found, providing some tantalizing reasons for your ass to stay put, even though your head may be debating an early walkout.

Minami (Hideki Sone) is a Yakuza enforcer who is sent by his bosses on an errand to drive fellow mobster and Aniki ("brother") Ozaki (Sho Aikawa) to a junkyard, where Ozaki is to be rubbed out. The increasingly paranoid Ozaki has become unstable, and when he smashes a Pomeranian to death against the sidewalk (I know it doesn't sound funny, but trust me, it is) for being a "Yakuza-trained assassin dog", it becomes apparent to his bosses that Ozaki's sanity is on its last legs.

But on the ill-fated trip, Minami is beset by a slew of strange occurrences and bizarre, unsettling characters. When the body of the presumed dead Ozaki up and disappears on him, Minami must interact with a gaggle of weirdos in order to find Ozaki. These include a middle-aged woman who lactates excessively and bottles her own brand of breast milk, a bald transvestite who runs the local café’ and was supposedly killed in a car accident two years earlier, and a man with a cow’s head (???). However, in between the film begins to plod in several places, with the occasional hilarious or disturbing scene popping up just long enough to reign in the audience's attention before it begins to drift again. While seeking Ozaki, Minami finds is a gorgeous young woman (Kimika Yoshino) who claims to be a female reincarnation of Ozaki, and offers up intimate details about Minami that only Ozaki would know as proof.

And then things start to get really strange.

Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be much to tie things together. Although Gozu has many great parts, they don't add up to a whole lot in the end (speaking of ends, the ending is probably the most random part of the entire film, soliciting laughter out of sheer bizarreness). It boasts interesting characters, plenty of twisted humor, and a healthy amount of gore and gross out scenes – but there’s nothing to lend it a sense of urgency or direction. After a while it becomes apparent that the film is strange just for the sake of being strange, warranting little intellectual or emotional investment in the outcome. Still, the film’s exuberantly twisted sense of humor, creepy use of sound effects to heighten tension, and sparse sets and lighting create a result that is entertaining, albeit disjointed.

Although not quite up to snuff with his aforementioned works, GOZU probably won’t disappoint Miike fans, or those looking for a gooey good time in the vein of VIDEODROME or ERASERHEAD. Although it goes out with a laugh, it almost feels like a cheap shot – like a bit of randomness thrown in at the end because there was no logical way to end it. Or perhaps Miike just had to move on to the next project since he’s been cranking out films at breakneck speed lately. Still, if seeing a goop-slathered arm reaching out of a woman’s vagina is your kind of thing, then Dozo (help yourself) to GOZU. (3.5 out of 5 stars)

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originally posted: 02/08/04 16:31:02
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2004 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 San Francisco Indie Fest. For more in the 2004 San Francisco Independent Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 CineVegas Film Festival. For more in the 2004 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

5/20/10 Josie Cotton is a goddess One of the weirdest damn things I ever did see 4 stars
7/13/06 Agent Sands I'm not one for slaughtering chihuahuas, but I loved this yakuza horror film. 4 stars
5/09/06 Christine Hosie this film is weird bordering on the ridiculous 3 stars
6/26/05 R i'm the miike! gotta love me! 3 stars
6/14/05 K. Sear Too Lynchian for my tastes. 2 stars
1/09/05 Amy snooze fest with a few outburst to keep ya talking. 2 stars
12/29/04 Nagumo weird and funny, mostly weird 3 stars
8/23/04 Nikolai WTF ?! !!! 5 stars
8/03/04 Jonathan Lang boringly random... avoid like the plague 1 stars
8/01/04 Brian Owens Brilliantly F****d Up 5 stars
2/17/04 QQ great 5 stars
2/15/04 Jean-Paul Lafayette DuQuette A little slow, but it will blow your mind... 5 stars
2/09/04 Brad nasty 1 stars
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  23-Nov-2004 (NR)
  DVD: 08-Dec-2009



Directed by
  Takashi Miike

Written by
  Sakichi Sato

  Hideki Sone
  Sho Aikawa
  Kimika Yoshima
  Shohei Hino
  Keiko Tomita
  Harumi Sone

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