A yakuza enforcer is ordered to secretly drive his beloved colleague to be assassinated. But when the colleague unceremoniously disappears en route, the trip that follows is a twisted, surreal and horrifying experience.
A revolver-wielding stranger crosses paths with two warring clans who are both on the hunt for a hidden treasure in a remote western town. Knowing his services are valuable to either side, he offers himself to the clan who will offer up the largest share of the wealth.
I went to see this film with my daughter, with little expectations, but a bit of hope, as Miike is always original. I actually watched this movie in Miike's home town, just a bit away from where he was born, and only add this to inform some of the English fans out there how interesting it is, that not only do most Japanese not know who Miike is, even the people in his home town don't know him.
But, to stay on topic, I enjoyed many of the childish fun of this film, along with the great use of ridiculous over the top special effects and make up.
However, I can't really say I enjoyed this film, as I found it very unfocused. This had a charm for a time, but I felt it wore thin eventually, and the fighting for the middle 40 minutes or so of the movie lacked any reason or possibility of resolution. During this middle part, so many characters were introduced, who, although stylistic in appearance, were unnecessary, especially in a children's movie.
Most of the bad guys could have been pushed into one characters, and most of the good guys too. (If you have a chance to see this movie, try and explain why Miike chooses to introduce all the students from 1st to 6th grade, despite the fact that we know, from all that has come before that part, as well as from the Japanese title, that this movie is about Nantaro and the 1st graders) I also really felt that a lot of the FX style was influenced by Stephen Chow's films, and in comparison, not as good.
So, I don't mean to come down too hard on this film, which is appropriate and good enough for 4 - 10 year old to enjoy, with some very anime influenced make-up and costume designs. With the near 2 hour running time for this one, I would bet a 90 minute cut might be good enough to really recommend.
I do hope more people in Japan, and Yao city learn about Miike, but this will not be the movie I show first.
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