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.
Minami, a junior member of a Japanese underworld organisation, is sent on a road trip with a senior colleague, Ozaki. Ozaki is to be bumped off, as he is now a liability to the organisation. On the way Ozaki disappears under mysterious circumstances.Written by
The reason black comedy really isn't funny anymore is because all modern black comedies just repeat the same jokes. Though Gozu isn't going to have you laughing on your first viewing, it definitely will have you laughing in shock when you look back post-viewing, after everything comes together. Gozu isn't really hard to understand, it isn't complex, but it certainly isn't forgettable. If anything, it's set up a lot like a sick version of The Wizard of Oz: a straight path, with the lead character meeting eccentric secondary characters that help him along until he reaches the final solution to his problem. While this seems simplistic, it's impossible to not notice Takashi Miike's stunning originality throughout. While most Asian horror is riddled with cliché ghosts and evil mothers, Takashi Miike proves here that he is not only the most original Asian director out there, but one of the most original directors working in the industry today. And I think Gozu may be his masterwork.
I'm personally sick of movies that claim to be a mind trip, filled with "weird" ideas that turn out to be nothing but cliché mentions of time travel and every other genetic idea. I could list names of these filmsDonnie Darko, 12 Monkeys, etc.but the point is, weird isn't weird anymore in modern cinema. If you were been born and raised on The Twilight Zone like I was, all these movies are as generic as average spy thrillers. Gozu, however, may be one few films to come out post-2000 that I can honestly call weird. And, believe me, that is a good thing. Instead of rehashing tired clichés, Gozu brings the viewer to placed they've never even thought of before. The opening instructs the viewer not to "take anything seriouslyit's all a joke", and the punch line has to be one of the most bazaar endings in cinema history. It's terrifying and genuinely grotesque, as well as hilarious. Everything in this movie is stuff writers/directors would sit around and joke about, but never, EVER, have the balls to actually film. That's what makes the story behind Gozu so refreshing and truly original. I can't believe I'm actually writing that final line in a review.
Miike's directing is stylish, as always. He knows how to set up a scene and inflict a terrifying mood. The entire film takes itself so deadpan seriously, and though that would usually be a fatal blow to most movies, Miike makes it work here. Somehow. Whenever a major plot point happens, it's done so flawlessly it's impossible not to be immersed in the moment.
So why didn't I give Gozu a perfect score? Because as much as I loved it, the movie needed to be shortened. Do not get me wrong: I love Miike's slow dialogue as much as I love his balls-to-the-wall action, but here it gets a little overbearing. Characters sit and stare at things without any purpose, and while it works, it's just not entertaining at all. The movie could have been shortened by at least 20 minutes, and if it had been, it would have been near perfection. Also, a few scenes became very repetitious and even mildly annoying. What I mean to say is, although the story is amazing, Gozu lacks a lot of entertainment value.
Overall, though, despite its flaws, Gozu is not forgettable. It's hard for me to remember a time when I would pop in a DVD and actually remember what I watched by the next morning. In a world of cheap carbon copies plots and cheesy horror elements, Gozu seems almost like perfection, even though it really isn't. But I have no room to complain. I'd take this over another black-haired-ghost-girl-evil-mother-terrorist-time-travel movie ANY DAY.
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