Dead or Alive
Takashi Miike takes a dime-a-dozen yakuza script and turns it inside out in this high-octane surrealist crime action thriller. The film's first ten minutes is a breathless montage depicting a naked woman clutching a bag of cocaine being thrown off a high-rise, a porcine Chinese gangster devouring bowl after bowl of noodles before getting whacked, a tinsel-wigged stripper in mid-grind, another Chinese gangster having sex with a guy in a pubic bathroom, clowns throwing knives, and the world's longest cocaine line. Welcome to planet Miike -- one that seems unnervingly like reality but just tweaked enough that the viewer believes almost anything can (and does) happen. What follows is a tale pitting narcotics cop Jojima (Sho Aikawa), who has an ailing daughter and a neglected wife, against Ryuichi (Riki Takeuchi), a Chinese-born gangster sporting a hairstyle that would make Wayne Newton jealous. As Ryuichi tries to muscle in on a big drug haul from Taiwan, those closest to him get killed -- particularly his whey-faced younger brother and girlfriend (the latter meets a particularly grizzly end at the hands of a sadistic scat-enthusiast yakuza). Likewise, Jojima, who is on Ryuichi's tail, looses his partner, his wife, and his daughter. Soon the two are on the road to a literally cataclysmic confrontation.