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We begin in 1865, when the Shogunate is on its last legs, but still capable of punishing its enemies. One is Izo (Kazuya Nakayama), an assassin in the service of Hanpeida (Ryosuke Miki), a Tosa lord and Imperial supporter. After killing dozens of the Shogun's men, Izo is captured and crucified. Instead of being extinguished, his rage propels him through the space-time continuum to present-day Tokyo, where he finds himself one with the city's homeless. Here Izo transforms himself into a new, improved killing machine, his entire soul still enraged by his treatment in his past life. His response to the powers-that-be, whose predecessors put him to death, is the sword. Written by
I was expecting a samurai film, I couldn't have been wronger. It is hard to explain "Izo" with just words, even if I could I don't think it would cover all the things this film has to say.
Before explaining the story of this film I think it is essential to talk about the visual aspect of it. "Izo" looks like another experimental film from the director Takashi Miike, lots of unorthodox camera shots and visual story telling. Acting feels very theatrical... in a Japanese way. There is no stopping in this film, it is a fast ride from start to the end and you have to catch up with it.
As for the story, Izo is the main character in this, a samurai from feudal Japan who apparently had a lot of drama in his life. After his death his tortured soul wanders around modern and old Japan, endlessly taking lives. He denies the existence of God, faces old foes, those who hold grudge against him, sleeps with his mom and kills her, he sees women he had been with, kills them, kills lots of women, kills lots of everything actually. And the whole Japan -modern and old- wants to stop this guy, he is seen as a menace to the system, he doesn't belong to the system. And he travels back and forth in time, fighting and killing everyone that gets in his way, slowly turning into a demon.
There is a lot of defiance in "Izo", against everything human civilization stands for. Its purpose apparently is to question that which made us what we are. Where does religion, law, ethics come from? And it has a very nihilist answer to all of it. While watching this I felt a lot of mythology in it, feels like a Greek or a Persian tragedy.
What I've written might sound non-sense if you haven't yet seen this and have no idea what it is like but this is as much as I can do to explain this film. I think that's what makes good art: It speaks for itself...
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