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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Everything Hostel wished it could've been

Author: M_o_g_a_m_b_o (bollyjuice@hotmail.com) from India
22 March 2012

Kazuto and friends, with a spaceship crashed on his bath-house, must now deal with everyday challenges and trouble while trying to figure out how to kill the fish dealer and his mother they have to flee from the police, what finally leads to their suicides...... including more crash landings. The video label which distributes the first part of "Trilogy of cross dressing" here in the United Arab Emirates advertised it as "A first rate trashy film. A deliberate effort to corrupt and degrade whichever profession participated in this shabby extravaganza." The rest is business as usual! Nagare Hagiwara looks good with nothing on and obviously enjoys it. Ryo Ishibashi portrays himself as a first rate nutter, yet again. Takashi Miike had the balls to cast the pair of them in roles they would never again rise above. I think this is an example of one of those movies where people see a really famous name attached to it and automatically assume it's the next greatest thing -- this is hardly the case. Additionally, the plot is relatively absent.

The middle section of the film gets bogged down is some pretty broad 'comedy" routines that include a chubby guy disco dancing, but it's a complete waste of a talented cast.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

I've seen worse, but not from Miike

2/10
Author: Zampano Triforcebook from Stockholm, Sweden
15 August 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Spoiler alert: "waru" means "bad" in Japanese.

This film is abysmal, but as a Miike fan, I'll do my best to explain how I arrived at that conclusion. Bear in mind that this is the same man who made "13 Assassins", "Ichimei", "Ichi the Killer", "Sukiyaki Western Django", and "Crows Zero", films I think are epic, so try to understand that it saddens me to watch "Waru", maybe the worst film I've ever seen.

Before I get into that, I'd like to explain how I generally regard Miike. If you've made even the most superficial attempt to study Miike's work, you recognize that he's enamored of "B-Movie" tropes and "grindhouse" elements in film. The awkward blood, gore, torture, and grotesque sex scenes delivered in bizarre edits are commonly associated with the low-budget nature of grindhouse. When Miike seems suddenly or deliberately "bad" at certain points, the purpose is to portray that "feel". Miike's a film nerd; a cinema "otaku", so these are film nerd jokes he's making. You have to bring that awareness with you when you watch his films or you'll misunderstand the punch lines he's throwing at the audience.

In terms of style, he's a kind of Japanese cousin to Quentin Tarantino, maybe a little more weighted toward the horrific, with a bit of John Waters thrown in for shock value. Just like Tarantino, Miike also has a preoccupation with the Japanese equivalent of "Americana": artifacts and elements related to the history, geography, folklore and cultural heritage of (especially 20th century) Japan. This leads him to draw extensively from pop-culture sources like manga, yakuza mythos, and old samurai films (all three elements are featured in 'Waru'). Miike is often referred to as subversive because there is something distinctly "punk rock" about his iconoclasm and non-conformity; that is, if you're willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. For example, it's reasonable to see "Crows Zero" as a kind of "punk" treatment of the Japanese literary trope of the 'samurai epic' (e.g., 'Tale of the Heikei'), with it's endless factions and sub-plots between multiple protagonists (a theme repeated in Sukiyaki Western Django). My point is, Miike demonstrates that he's aware of high-brow culture even when he's making something absurd or grotesque.

That being said, even if I assume he makes "bad film" on purpose as a meta-commentary or something, even by that standard, this is truly the worst film by Takashi Miike I've ever seen. While I agree with the specific criticisms made by another reviewer (xXBoss-EbertXx), I find his statement "Then again, can anyone expect anything good from Miike's factory?" disqualifies him as biased against all the director's films. Still, in the case of "Waru", it's even hard for a fan of Miike to tell what Miike was thinking. The whole thing is "bad"; ironically, "waru" means "bad" in Japanese.

Waru is a steady stream of abject absurdity, but it doesn't look deliberately absurd, and that's a problem. The viewer is beaten in the eyes with every trope associated with bad 80's action film, from beginning to end: the bad-ass martial arts outcast from society, underworld assassins hiding under every hedge, physics defying prop-battles (like the jet-ski hand-gun joust), physics defying gangster pompadours (helmet hair), endless streams of stupid thugs for the (anti)hero to beat in the face with a wooden bokken (kendo practice sword), because he's apparently a modern-day samurai who fights gunmen with a wooden sword like Miyamoto Musashi dueling Seijuro. I even got the "Musashi" allusion, like this guy is the "yakuza version of Musashi", but it still didn't feel like it was making fun of the subject matter or the genre. Miike seemed eerily serious; if he wasn't, I really couldn't tell.

Even when compared to his other manga-to-film projects, the characters, plot, and action are just boring. Even the "mood" was flat. Nothing shocking, nothing particularly gratuitous, no subversive message to be deciphered. In the end, I was just like "wtf?" Because I love Miike so much, I've gone to the trouble of getting a copy of the manga by Kagemaru Jyoya that 'Waru' was derived from. I'm reading it to see if I missed something key to understanding this film, just in case.

Conclusion: "Waru" lived up to it's name. It was just "bad".

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Miike's subversive deconstruction of the crime thriller

10/10
Author: xXBoss-EbertXx from United States
27 April 2012

Takashi Miike's crappy 'Waru: Unrated' is a headache, a very bad one. One may wonder how a movie that stars Ryo Ishibashi, Yoshihiko Hakamada, Satsuko Sakuraba and Nagare Hagiwara can be so bad. Then again, can anyone expect anything good from Miike's factory? Starting with the cast that got me interested to see this movie, none of them impress. Satsuko Sakuraba acts as if she's uninterested (why should she be otherwise?), Hitoshi Ozawa terribly overacts, Kimika Yoshino is annoying, Keiko Matsuzaka is the caricature bad trollop, Atsuko Sakuraba as the whiny angry Mrs. Sone, Hisao Maki is miscast and Ryo Ishibashi barely has footage. There's hardly much comedy and the few jokes and 'skits' were not funny but only worsened the headache.

Oh and in the end there's even a message: crazy people are better than the sane people of the American population (cringe). The script is truly abysmal, especially the English parts. Thankfully Ishibashi's baboon break-dance was in the end, so I didn't have to sit through that but Kimika Yoshino's outfit is one of the sleaziest item numbers in the Land of the Rising Sun. She's wearing a skirt so low that in one shot you can see her {censored} (ever heard of waxing?). This pretty much borders on pornography. I'm surprised this film goes unnoticed when people are quick to point fingers at Urmila for playing a prostitute in the Hindi film of 'ki Aag'. Now what about the director Takashi Miike? Well, did this film actually have a director? It looked like very bad improvisation by uninterested actors who were following a horrendously clichéd script. Don't be mislead by the cast. Avoid this one at all costs.

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