Twitter Plot Summary: A surreal journey as a yakuza enforcer drives his colleague to be assassinated. The journey soon goes crazy. Absolutely crazy.
Director: Takashi Miike
Key Cast: Yuta Sone, Sho Aikawa, Kimika Yoshino, Shohei Hino, Keiko Tomita, Harumi Sone, Renji Ishibashi.
Five Point Summary:
1. Man kills tiny dog. If that opening doesn’t shock you, you’ll be fine.
2. Easiest. Riddle. Ever.
3. That’s a lot of milk…
4. They’ve broken the fourth wall! ANARCHY!
5. Strange motorcycle sounds coming from her private parts? Very odd.
If you’ve seen Ichi The Killer then you know what to expect from director Takashi Miike, a mix of extreme violence and surreal moments. Rest assured, if you weren’t a fan of the extreme violence in Ichi The Killer then Gozu doesn’t reach the same levels. What it is though is incredibly weird, so tonally at least they’re on par with one another.
Gozu breaks so many rules it’s difficult to know where to start. Early on the screen flickers as if the film stock has been damaged, and it’s at this point we dip into surreal territory. Dialogue is non-sensical, the fourth wall is broken, and a potent mix of surreal imagery is the dish of the day. A group of transvestite waiters? Done. A man with a ladle sticking out of his bum? Sure, it’s a Takeshi Miike film, that’s normal.
There’s certainly an air of experiencing a waking dream about the whole thing, in particular everything after the point the Yakuza chap vanishes. Somewhere in the middle of all the insanity a normal love story is trying to break into the foreground, yet just as you think it might actually take centre stage, it gets weird. Before that, first and foremost, it’s almost a bromance type affair with Minami, our main character, tasked with taking his boss/friend Ozaki to be disposed of. Minami is reluctant to kill the man who once saved his life. Unfortunately Ozaki has gone a little off the deep end, even taking umbrage at a small dog in the film’s opening moments. If you’re shocked by that opening, then you ain’t seen nothing yet. Minami proceeds to try and find Ozaki with the help of a guy who has a partially albino face. Ozaki could be dead or he might be alive and well, but him going missing early on, despite being dead/catatonic, sets off a string of events that builds to a doozy of a third act.
It’s a tough one to categorise, just because it’s so deeply strange. And if you think the rest of the film is weird, wait until you get to the final fifteen minutes. It’s completely off the page, horrific, disturbing and surprisingly funny in equal measure. Talk about your basic oedipal complex and fear of childbirth. Jeez… To say any more would spoil it, but brace yourself, because I’m not sure cinema can get any more peculiar than this.
I could probably spend page after page discussing the symbolism, the imagery, the surreal aspects, the sheer insanity of the whole thing, but that would probably not make any difference in helping you decide if you want to see it or not. That and I doubt I would be anywhere close to knowing what’s actually going on. Fans of Miike’s other films will lap it up. Anybody not familiar with his films are probably best served starting with something else, something a little more sane. It’s not an easy film to get into, and I can imagine a fair few people will switch off after 20 minutes of nonsensical story. A curio, then, but a very good one.
Favourite scene: The final few scenes. Very weird, even for Japanese cinema.
Quote: “Once I put her in a bath, she recovered.”
Silly Moment: The encounter with the Minotaur. A very cheap looking Minotaur. In Y-Fronts.