The work of Takashi Miike is usually marked by bizarre characters in even more bizarre situations. By turns audacious, scary and violent, Miike has became a director reknowned for his ability to shock. Perhaps his biggest shock has arrived yet with his new film "Shangri-La" - shocking only because it's the complete opposite Miike's work has became known for. Instead we are treated to a delightful, light, and outright heartwarming comedy that is thoroughly enjoyable. It hardly breaks new ground and it's nothing we haven't seen before, but it's done with such sincerity and executed so well, so can't help but admire it.
"Shangri-La" follows the lives of a group of homeless people in Japan who run into a man who nearly commits suicide and decide to help him out of his financial troubles. Using their various ingenious resources they embark on a complex scheme to blackmail a crooked businessman, whose bankruptcy claim has put people out of work. It's a fun romp as these seemingly homeless people manage to outsmart the very people who cast them from society. Miike knows enough not to over explain his characters or to drop the plot in emotional syrup and knows to keep things tight and moving along briskly to its inevitable conclusion.
"Shangri-La" is a welcome addition to Miike's filmography but hardly indicative of his work. First timers should start with "Fudoh" or "Visitor Q", but those looking for something completely familiar need look no further.
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