In order to settle a business dispute, a mob leader murders one of his own teenage sons. The surviving son vows to avenge his brother's death, and organizes his own gang of teenage killers to destroy his father's organization.
Ambitious yakuza Kenji befriends harmonica-playing bartender Chuji, who moonlights as a part-time drug-dealer for the opposing gang. Their friendship is threatened by Kenji's plans for ... See full summary »
Gritty gangster drama about family and retribution.
Rainy Dog will no doubt come as a big surprise to many casual viewers of the work of Takashi Miike; featuring none of the over-the-top violence, sadism and hyper-kinetic surrealism of his more iconic pictures, such as Ichi the Killer, The Happiness of the Katakuris, Gozu and Dead or Alive.
Instead, Rainy Dog is an incredibly bleak, brooding, deliberately paced and entirely authentic gangster drama; focusing on the well-worn themes of love, life, family, responsibility, honour and retribution. The films tells the story of Yuuji; an exiled Japanese Yakuza living hand to mouth in a Taiwanese slum, trying to make ends meat by carrying out various hits for the local Triads so that he can afford to buy a fake passport to get him self back to Japan. If this wasn't difficult enough, his life is further complicated by the arrival of a small boy, who is literally dumped on Yuuji's doorstep and introduced as his son. This forces our central protagonist to think more specifically about his life and future; as his purgatory-like existence in this neon-lit jungle hell - plagued by constant rain and bursts of matter-of-fact violence - threatens a single fate of bloody retribution.
As the previous reviewer noted, the film is probably closer in tone to the work of someone like "Beat" Takeshi Kitano, with the deliberate pacing of the narrative and preoccupations with character and tone really carrying the film above the more dramatic moments of action. That said, the film is hardly an anomaly within Miike's rich back-catalogue of works; suggesting the quiet, almost serene moments of films like The Bird People in China, Ley Lines and indeed, the first hour of his masterpiece Audition.
It's wrong to think of Miike as a shallow provocateur; desperately trying to shock the viewer with more and more outlandish moments from film to film. Simply put; the man is a serious talent... as comfortable with straight crime dramas like Shinjuku Triad Society, Agitator and the film in question, as he is with more personal, idiosyncratic projects like Visitor Q, Gozu and The Happiness of the Katakuris. Rainy Dog might not be the film that I watch again and again - lacking the sheer audacity and room for multiple interpretations offered by the latter collection of films - but at the same time, it adds a great deal of depth to Miike's reputation as a highly skilled and highly talented filmmaker away from all the shock-value and occasional lapses of self-parody.
Rainy Dog is dark, moody, uncompromising film-noir at its finest; all wonderfully atmospheric, nicely shot and subtly acted (particularly by the three main leads who come to take on the personification of the "family" central to the thoughts and feelings of the main character). True, it may not be the greatest film that Miike has ever made, or indeed, one that is indicative of his trademark style, but it is, regardless, one that remains an enjoyable if somewhat slow-moving crime drama that shows Miike's capability of working with a variety of different acting styles (from child to adult, domestic to foreign, professional to amateur), whilst simultaneously placing further emphasis on the idea of character, rather than spectacle.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?