Dead or Alive: Hanzaisha

Reviewed By Greg Muskewitz
Posted 02/21/04 14:19:16

"Only a true Miike in occasional moments."
2 stars (Pretty Bad)

One never knows what to expect with Takashi Miike except some form of perversity.

Outside of the overly frenzied jag that this starts in — throwing the movie’s four main groups together to decipher which is what later — it mellows out to the story of a straight-laced detective in the pursuit of a renegade group (they’re mainland Chinese, but they don’t identify with the Chinese or the Japanese) who are proving rabble-rousers to a partnership between the yakuza and Chinese mafia. It’s filled with a lot of intermediary plotting, none of it particularly original for the genre, but Dead or Alive is still marked with the imprimatur of Miike in scenes such as a slovenly yakuza getting shot only for his belly to explode with the Shu Chi noodles he just ate, or a pornographer jerking off a dog to photograph him humping a woman, or a hooker drowning in her own excrement, or another hooker spitting out a mouth full of semen. Miike is undoubtedly full of stylistic energy, shown off best during the composed moments of violence, but his problem seems to be around the staging and preparation of those moments, and that the construction of the rest of the movie hinges only by the effects they elicit. And the ending is outrageously and incongruously over-the-top even for all of the already ridiculous proceedings. With Sho Aikawa, Riki Takeuchi, Renji Ishibashi, Hitoshi Ozawa, and Michisuke Kashiwaya.

[See it if you must.]

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