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June 14, 2006

Hey Miike

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Over the weekend, the Wife and I were dazzled and amazed by Takashi Miike's beyond-brilliant, beyond-edgy yakuza thriller "Dead or Alive." If your experience of extreme cinema has been limited to the relatively-mainstream likes of "Natural Born Killers" and "Pulp Fiction," you owe it to yourself to sample Miike's best work, which makes Oliver Stone and Quentin Tarantino look like kids playing make-believe with nursery toys. Miike, by comparison, knows how to make a movie sting.

The Wife and I are big fans of "Dead or Alive," "Audition," and especially "Ichi the Killer," which has to be one of the most galvanizing yet hard-to-take movies ever made. Friends who are even bigger filmgeeks than we are tell us that Miike has made more than his fair share of stinkers. (He tends to direct four to even eight movies a year.) But these are all buckle-your-seatbelt performances that are likely to leave you gasping.

I wrote about other extreme movies here and here and here.



posted by Michael at June 14, 2006


Ichi is fairly intense, with the obligatory slicing and dicing of female body parts. Particularly disturbing was the nipple slice.

I kind of cringe at that kind of thing, and my wife can't watch it.

Posted by: the patriarch on June 14, 2006 6:26 PM


Posted by: David Fleck on June 14, 2006 8:24 PM

The other can't-miss film by Miike is Visitor Q, which does for sexual perversity what Ichi the Killer does for violence. It's perhaps the only film I can honsetly say sits up there with John Waters' Pink Flamingos for sheer "I can believe some twisted freak actually filmed this" shock value -- it starts out on such a scene, then proceeds to top itself every fifteen minutes until the final shot. It goes without saying that children shouldn't be in the same building, let alone the same room, when this film is screened, but for adults, it's a bizarre wonderland of many gifts.

Posted by: Dirk Deppey on June 15, 2006 12:33 AM

I've seen a lot of his movies and, while I like them a lot, there's only one or two that I would ever recommend to someone who wasn't some kind of filmbuff. But if you can get through Dead or Alive and Audition, you chould definitely check out The Happiness of the Katakuris, Miike's musical about zombies.

Posted by: Jon Hastings on June 15, 2006 8:37 AM

Patriarch -- What I remember most vividly is the showpiece scene of the guy suspended from meathooks and tortured. That's the one that had me hiding behind the sofa.

David -- Ick indeed. The film is the movie equivalent of real balls-out, heedless rock and roll, only with a degree of technical wizardry you don't often see in rock. I've got some taste for that kind of thing, but I don't find it hard to understand why some people may not.

Dirk -- That's a nice description/evocation/explanation of Visitor Q! I liked it too, and for similar reasons. I also liked it for being a demo of how wild a movie can be made on a (if I remember right) $60 thousand budget and with digital video. Far out stuff!

Jon -- "Happiness of the Katakuris" was pretty darned far out too. I can't say it worked for me, though. I was bemused and amused by it, but I wasn't transported the way I was with some of the other Miikes. It sounds like it worked for you, though, which is nice to hear. He's quite a talent. I've read that he's even made children's movies. I wonder what those are like.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on June 15, 2006 10:46 AM

Also, I should point out that he has a "kids'" movie at the New York Asian Film Festival, which starts this weekend: The Great Yokai War.

There doesn't seem to be as much "extreme" stuff at the AFF this year as there has been in previous years, although this movie looks pretty nutty.

Posted by: Jon Hastings on June 15, 2006 11:48 AM

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