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Set on the island of Kyushu, it tells the story of successful high school student Riki Fudoh, who leads a double life in organized crime. With his gang of underage assassins (forerunners of the kiddie killers in Dead or Alive 2 (2000), including five-year-olds with hand guns and a teenage stripper shooting deadly darts from her vagina) he not only controls the goings-on at his school, but aspires to take over criminal affairs on the entire island. Fudoh's true motivations are not just a lust for power. An extensive flashback at the film's opening shows how as a child he witnessed the grisly murder of his older brother at the hands of his yakuza boss father and his subsequent wish for revenge. Buckets of blood flow (literally) when Riki and the kids start an assassination campaign against the top figures of the local yakuza, with his father as the ultimate goal. The underworld goes into a state of panic and calls in mysterious and powerful problem solver Nohma. Riki's father meanwhile ... Written by
FUDOH: THE NEW GENERATION is probably the best starting point if someone wants to study the new wave of cinema coming out of Japan. While not as good as RING or as thought provoking as AUDITION or the films of "Beat" Takeshi, FUDOH will best prepare you for the extreme limits of violence and taste common to Japanese cinema. (The Japanese perspective on sex and violence is a mix of Paul Verhoeven and the Farrelly Brothers.)
FUDOH's sex and violence isn't in unwatchably bad taste. I'd say it's right on the line.
In the film, a Yukaza father with two sons messes up and must pay a tribute to show loyalty to the other Yakuza families. He does this by killing his oldest son (in a prologue that had me so confused I had to read the video box to follow what was happening.) Ten years later, the youngest son (now the smartest and most popular kid in high school) organizes his friends to take revenge against his father and all the other Yakuza leaders for practicing outdated customs that condone killing one's own family members.
Like most Japanese films, FUDOH works on two levels. On the surface, it's a violent revenge picture (and this one moves faster than most Japanese films.) The film is also a commentary on the relationships between fathers and sons (while enemies the two show more in common then they'd ever admit), young and old, and the need to question tradition and keep things current.
Of course most people will walk away from FUDOH talking about the wild sequences of sex and violence. This is the film by Miike Takashi (DEAD OR ALIVE, AUDITION) that put him on the map. (It also got him labeled the Japanese Verhoeven.) Typical of the director's work, FUDOH would most definitely be 'NC-17', with scenes of six-year-olds performing assassinations and a stripper who shoots poison darts from her.you know where. (You have to see it to believe it, and the fact that Takeshi is able to show it without explicit nudity - the girl uses a blowgun-like tube - proves that he does have a threshold of taste.)
I enjoyed large chunks of FUDOH. It's far superior to the better known DEAD OR ALIVE and more entertaining than AUDITION, although it's nowhere near as mature or thought provoking. It's also worth noting that this film is very Japanese in its behind-the-times attitudes towards females. The sexism is a bit surprising coming from Takashi, since AUDITION (which the director made five years later) is one of the strongest cinematic arguments for a woman's sexual equality that Japan's ever produced.
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