A yakuza is charged with eliminating his violently unstable mentor. On the drive to do thedeed, said mentor is (apparently) accidentally killed. But then his body vanishes from the car ofour hero, who is then charged with finding the corpse and making absolutely sure the man isdead, or else. His search takes place in a town populated entirely of grotesques, from a man whohas the same repetitive phone conversation day after day, to another whose face half plaster-white, to a…woman who aggressively offers the gangster her breast milk, and so on. Our man’sjourney becomes more bizarre with every passing minute.
Audition. Ichi the Killer. One Missed Call. Visitor Q.Gozu. Takashi Miike is one of the most spectacularly versatile directors around. His filmsalways disturb, but he is equally comfortable with gothic ghost tale, extended torture tale, orsurreal comedy. Gozu falls in the latter camp, and Miike is very open about the DavidLynch influence, which is apparent. Leisurely in its pace, Gozu manages to be low keyand over-the-top at the same time — no mean feat. It should be noted, however, that my praisefor the film is based only on the first half. Shortly before the hour mark, the disc under reviewseized up and became unwatchable. My rating, therefore, is based on what I saw, and on previousexperience with Miike’s work.
The 2.0 sound is simple and unadorned, but has some very effective moments. Theplacement, for instance, of the static television in the opening sequence does wonders forestablishing the off-kilter tone of dread. There isn’t a lot going on otherwise, but the momentswhere the surround kicks in are, with a couple of exceptions, well chosen.
The aspect ratio is 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and it’s nice to see more and morePathfinder titles adopting the anamorphic format. The colours are strong (the sepia tones of someof the scenes are, I believe, deliberate), and there is some very slight grain and softeness. All ofthis is assuming, of course, that this bum disc is an exception.
Film critics Andy Klein and Wade Major provide an excellent, intelligent commentary that,among other things, situates the film in the context of the yakuza genre. Each critic also conductsa separate interview with Miike, and the latter also participates in a round table with directorsEli Roth and Guillermo Del Toro. The making-of featurette is a Japanese production, and issubtitled. There are bios of Miike and five of the cast members, a fine text essay by Tom Mes(who has a book on Miike), and an audio performance of the title theme song. As for trailers,there is are the Japanese and US versions for the feature, plus trailers for six other release (theone for “Hera Purple Devil Goddess” defies rational description). The menu’s main screen hasan animated and scored inset.
A fascinating film, one that I wish the disc had permitted me to see to the end. Assumingthis is an aberration, this release gets a strong recommendation.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Making-of Featurette
- Still Gallery
- Title Theme Song