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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
I've mentioned in some of my other reviews ('Ezo Ezo Azaraku II' and 'Mr Vampire') that SBS (a free-to-air Australian channel specializing foreign programs) shows some pretty cool and pretty weird. That being said, I watched this not knowing who Takashi Miike was, and ignoring SBS's usual "warning: this program contains material that may disturb some viewers". That was quite the understatement. I reckon 'Fudoh' could disturb most viewers.
When Riki Fudoh (Shosuke Tanihara) was a child, he witnessed his father Iwao Fudoh, a yakuza boss, behead Riki's older brother, Ryu. Ryu has committed crimes against the Yakuza and dishonoured his father, and in such a society, it is Iwao's duty to kill him, regardless of Ryu being his first son. Naturally, this has an impact on Riki. Skip to Riki in high-school, and he is now the boss of his own Yakuza gang, with the intent of taking out the older generation of Yakuza, and destroying the old ways. Only in Japan...
'Fudoh' plays out as quite the violent yakuza drama. It may not have the body-count of a John Woo or Quentin Tarantino movie, but the "controversial violence" of Tarantino's 'Kill Bill' has nothing on this, and I'd be willing that Woo would much prefer to avoid making anything like this. Riki's yakuza gang is made of up teenagers and kids. Very early into the movie, we see some kids (I dare say no older than 8 at the most) pull out their hand-guns and assassinate a rival Yakuza. That I could barely handle, but Miike just goes further and further with some rather unusual acts of violence and very bizarre sex-scenes.
And even through all that, there is still a plot. 'Fudoh' explores the same theme as 'Battle Royale' - the younger generation of Japanese not understanding, or not willing to understand, the long-lasting feudal traditions in Japanese culture. OK, I'll admit that is how I understood it. Maybe I got it wrong, maybe I was just looking for something that wasn't there, but I'm fairly sure that my interpretation is at least somewhat correct. It is easy to overwhelmed by the action on-screen, and I wouldn't be surprised if some people completely missed any theme and left only with the image of someone's brain stuck to a wall.
'Fudoh' is a good movie, but not for the faint of heart. Or most people. In fact, it may be best if only shown to fans of the more violent action movies from Asia - 9/10
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