In order to settle a business dispute, a mob leader murders one of his own teenage sons. The surviving son vows to avenge his brother's death, and organizes his own gang of teenage killers to destroy his father's organization.
Ambitious yakuza Kenji befriends harmonica-playing bartender Chuji, who moonlights as a part-time drug-dealer for the opposing gang. Their friendship is threatened by Kenji's plans for ... See full summary »
A lot has been said about Shinjuku Triad Society as the first true "Miike" film and I thought this sort of description might have been a cliché. But, like all clichés, it is based on the truth. All the Miike trademarks are here, the violence, the black humour, the homosexuality, the taboo testing and the difficult to like central character. Shinjuku is however, one of Miike's most perfectly formed films. He says in an interview that if he made it again it would be different, but not necessarily better. I think what he means is that the film possesses a truly captivating energy and raw edge which seems so fresh that although he might be able to capture a more visually or technically complex movie he could not replicate or better the purity of this film.
As you might expect, the violence is utterly visceral, gushing blood and gritty beatings are supplemented by a fantastic scene in which a woman has a chair smashed over her face. (Only a Miike film could let you get away with a sentence like that.) The film has a fantastic pace, unlike Dead or Alive which begins and ends strongly and dips in the middle. Dead or Alive also deals with similar issues, Miike is clearly concerned about the relations between the Japanese and Chinese in the postwar period and this emotive subject is handled well here, the central character really coming to life when you begin to understand his past.
I cannot sing Shinjuku's praises enough. I do not want to give away too much. This is Miike before he began to use CGI to animate his films and is almost reminiscent of something like Kitano's Sonatine. The central characters are superbly realized and the final twist guarantees that as soon as the film has finished you'll be popping it back on again to work it all out.
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