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.
Japanese-Brazilian Mario and Chinese hairdresser Kei are lovers. Kei is about to be deported. He manages to escape. His plan is to get passports and stow away on a ship headed for a foreign country. With his girlfriend he tries to steal money from the mafia. Instead he gets cocaine which he sells. But Kei is captured by Yakuza and he must save her... Written by
Interesting and fast paced film from this great director
Takashi Miike's City of Lost Souls (also known as Hazard City, 2000) is very different due to its multi nation cast which includes Russians, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese and some others. The protagonist is Mario who is a Japanese/Brazilian who has beautiful Chinese girlfriend Kei who he frees in the outrageous beginning of the movie from some immigration system. Then they try to get out of Japan, but before they can, they have to deal with crazy Yakuza members, Mario's ex-girlfriend and her little girl and irritating radio host. This film reminds distantly of Guy Ritchie's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels so that gives a clue how much things happen in this film; you're right, a lot.
This is one wild ride to experience and even though it's not the director's masterpiece, it's still very interesting film and personal to say the least. The film is full of details to be found and crazy ideas, and Takashi is definitely among the most interesting directors of today. There are long takes without edits, weird and crazy camera angles (the toilet!), wild action scenes, CGI and some outrageous gags mostly towards some Hollywood blockbusters like The Matrix. The cockfight scene is totally unbelievable and I'd like to know what do the Wachowsky brothers think about this film! The very menacing "blade" effect at the end is again very personal and the kind of crazy idea one could expect from this director and Japanese cinema in general. The violence and action is very comic book like and thus not too shocking nor disturbing and that's not even the purpose. Fudoh (1995) is far more serious film and very masterful piece of Yakuza genre and alongside Audition (1999), it is Takashi's masterpiece.
City of Lost Souls raises some interesting topics mostly about different races and how we after all are very similar no matter what "race" or nation we belong to. All the characters are more or less tragicomic and show that there's absolutely no culture or person in the world who could be described as "perfect" or without flaws; people in City of Lost Souls are selfish, stupid, violent and proud of themselves so these are exactly the same things which plague every human being in the world. These things are not necessarily active in every case, but they're still there "un-active" and waiting for some stimulation to become active because, in my opinion, they belong to human nature, whether we wanted to accept it or not. City of Lost Souls tells many thins about us humans, but it tells them with little like tongue in cheek and with plenty of humor and lightening elements and so the film becomes even more interesting. The same case is with Mario Bava's slasher classic Bay of Blood aka Twitch of the Death Nerve (1971), which is a horror film on one level, but ends up being a hilarious satire and black comedy during the end, and the final scene in Bava's film is very memorable and, in a way, little similar to Takashi's film's end and how and why Kei and Mario end up like that.
City of Lost Souls is very easy to watch many times due to its creative content and over-the-top personal director, who hopefully manages to make more interesting films for many years to come. It is ridiculous but also sad how many just think this is some non-sense director whose films are so good just because of their often strong violence and other shock elements. Takashi Miike is another great talent in the growing list of Japanese talents, and his films are far more than many manage to understand and see.
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