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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 Jay Seaver

"Okay, that scene was just an affront to reason."
4 stars

Wow. A Takashi Miike movie in a multiplex, albeit a boutique multiplex. For those who have not yet experienced his work, Takashi Miike brings to mind some bizarre experiment in genetic engineering where the DNA of Takeshi Kitano, Quentin Tarantino and David Cronenberg was mixed, too-quickly grown to adulthood, and let loose on an entertainment industry with no MPAA to hold him back and a mandate to crank out an average of five movies a year, for theaters, television, and video.

So, even though I'm recommending Gozu, remember the director. He makes crazy, violent, disgusting (and often sickly funny) movies, and he starts early here. If what happens to the dog in the first five minutes makes you want to leave, then by all means, leave. Pull out your cell phone and act like there's a family emergency; maybe you'll get your money back. Because by the time the movie is over, you'll see some even weirder shit. You won't even be able to eat corn flakes the next morning, because it would involve spoons and milk.

At first, young yakuza Minami thinks that it's just his mentor Ozaki who is crazy - he was, after all, responsible for that terrible bit of animal cruelty (really, I don't approve) that opened the film, claiming that a little Peke was in fact a vicious "yakuza attack dog". But, someone being that nuts is a danger to the gang, so Minami is tasked with bringing his "Brother" north to a body dump and eliminating him. As Minami and Ozaki approach the dump, though, it soon becomes clear that it's not just Ozaki who's crazy - it's the whole world.

Not just people, although almost everyone around Minami (Hideki Sone, the sane center of the movie) acts in a peculiar fashion. Roads just run straight into rivers, minotaurs appear during the night, and - in what provides most of the plot that pushes Minami to investigate the surreal world around him - a corpse apparently walks off while he's using the toilet, forcing him to find it. And when he does, things get really strange.

The middle portion of the movie moves somewhat slowly, as Miike and screenwriter Sakichi Sato throw one bizarre situation after another at Minami (and the audience). I can't say I really understand what the point of a lot of this section was about. The rest of the movie follows a sort of strange logic - well, not logic, but there's a sort of story through-line which works if you grant the filmmakers a gigantic unexplained impossible element - but the middle is a sort of surreal padding, a detour to put some space between the start and end of the story.

But, then, making sense isn't what this movie is about. After all, just as the movie finishes perhaps its most grotesque scene, and I really think I get how it works, it shifts gears for a completely incongruous epilogue that, though it features the same actors, is so different in tone and look as to appear to be taken from another movie.

But that's okay. This is, after all, a horror movie, at least in part, and the horror comes from Minami's interaction with an unknown and possibly unknowable world outside his experience. For things to suddenly make sense at the end would be something of a cop-out, even if making peace with that strangeness isn't.

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originally posted: 08/17/04 05:03:57
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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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