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Shinjuku kuroshakai: Chaina mafia sensô (1995)

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Amidst a Chinese and Japanese mafia war, a lawyer for the Chinese mob finds a rift forming between him and his corrupt police office brother.

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Title: Shinjuku kuroshakai: Chaina mafia sensô (1995)

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Cast

Credited cast:
Kippei Shîna ...
Kiriya
Tomorowo Taguchi ...
Wang
Takeshi Caesar ...
Karino
Ren Ohsugi ...
Yakuza boss
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Yukie Itou
Kyosuke Izutsu
Kazuhiro Mashiko
Yôji Tanaka
Airi Yanagi
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Storyline

Amidst a Chinese and Japanese mafia war, a lawyer for the Chinese mob finds a rift forming between him and his corrupt police office brother.

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26 August 1995 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Shinjuku Triad Society  »

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1.85 : 1
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Followed by Nihon kuroshakai (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Miike's first theatrically released film has got much of what fans now come to expect
15 May 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Shinjuku Triad Society, albeit from perfect, is a fiercely compelling film for what it tries to depict in its uber-conventional realm. It's a yakuza/triad picture, involving cops versus Japanese &/or Chinese gangsters (mostly Chinese, as the title suggests), but already even in his first technical 'debut', Takashi Miike is already establishing many aspects to films that he would make from here-on in. Social issues like black market trading of precious goods, in this case human organs usually from children; nostalgia for childhood and one's roots, which was especially prevalent in Dead or Alive 2; thumbing-of-the-nose at taboos like gay sex and (satirical) rape/violence towards women; blood-curdling violence. It's certainly not as surreal as some of Miike's most recent films, but this is expected as he's trying out things that he's just starting to learn, following a track record of straight to video programmers. It's got all of those qualities, and it's also, like the films that would follow from it, equally savage and heartfelt, crazy (in spots) and sardonic in its drama, and solid for genre fans.

The story concerns two brothers, one a Chinese orphan raised in Japan, Tatsuhito Kiriya (Kippei Shiina, pretty decent as a Eastwood-esquire anti-hero/hero), who's become a detective, and another, who's become a gangster, or a would-be one. The main arch likely takeover gang comes from Wang (a definite pun on what the gang represents during its spare-time, played by Tomorowo Taguchi as a typical wacko with real terror in his eyes), and his partner Karino (Takeshi Caesar, who's threatening even when just repeating a commandment over and over to a woman who's just had her eye plugged out following a sour deal), who are the ruthless kind to pop up almost organically in a Miike movie. There's some intrigue involving the organ-trading scheme with the gangsters, which Kiriya almost becomes a victim of, and the gang's penchant for gay sex- at least with one little puppet of sorts who does whatever the main gangsters want. It all leads up to vengeance and redemption, qualities that Miike and his writer are trying to emulate from Shakespeare (hence the Macbeth bit with Wang washing his bloody hangs over and over after some gay sex saying "it won't come off").

If it doesn't add up to the same emotional level of impact that a great Shakespeare play would have, it's par for the course of a film like this. Miike's goals are met, though just met, in his low-scale ambitions: a gangster picture with some added levels of harsh familial trouble (the main tension between the brothers comes out of profession and duty to parents), notes on the crueler aspects of underworld crime, and what the realm of unrepentant sex, with both sexes, brings out psychologically in the characters. At the same time, Shinjuku Triad Society also contains more than a few moments of classic biting black-comedy from the Miike oeuvre. Some of it just has to be taken with a grain of salt for what the director does in his outrageousness, like the bit at the beginning with the chair smashing over the face, or the randomness of the "interrogation" as it goes into a very twisted area. There's even a laugh-out-loud line from the young sex-slave after finishing an act on one of the bosses: "Thank you, Mr. Weeny-Burger." Miike and his writer don't have enough here to make the film a full-on dark comedy like Ichi or, of course, Visitor Q, but there's enough to bring some appropriate levity to the darker aspects to the story and characters.

As the first entry of the "Black Society" trilogy, as it's called, I was quite impressed, and it's a fine quasi-calling card from one of the craziest new artists in contemporary cinema.


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