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Gavin Schmitt

  1. Blu-ray Review: Takashi Miike's "Dead or Alive" (1999)

    A yakuza of Chinese descent and a Japanese cop each wage their own war against the Japanese mafia. But they are destined to meet. Their encounter will change the world.

    Right off the bat, we get a crazy opening sequence, culminating in a clown and a naked circus act. The film is notable for Takashi Miike's characteristic scenes of ultra-violence and perversity, which come casually littered throughout. Most notoriously, an "enema bath" scene which is juxtaposed with an existential ...
  2. Blu-ray Review: "Ley Lines" (1999)

    A trio of Japanese youths of Chinese descent escape their semi-rural upbringing and relocate to Shinjuku, a special ward in Tokyo, where they befriend a troubled Shanghai prostitute and fall foul of a local crime syndicate.

    Like many of Miike's works, including the two previous "Black Society Trilogy" entries, the film examines the underbelly of respectable Japanese society and the problems of assimilation faced by non-ethnically Japanese people in Japan. Although it may ...
  3. Blu-ray Review: "Rainy Dog" (1997)

    A Japanese assassin (Show Aikawa) stranded in Taiwan must take work from a local crime boss to make ends meet, when suddenly a woman from his past delivers a son to him. In a broad sense, the narrative follows in the tradition of Kenji Misumi's "Lone Wolf and Cub" (1972), as well as Luc Besson's "The Professional" (1994), which had a strong influence on Miike. In all three, a much-too-young child follows in the footsteps of a killer.

    Show Aikawa, who also appears ...
  4. Blu-ray Review: "Shinjuku Triad Society" (1995)

    Amidst a Chinese and Japanese mafia war, a lawyer for the Chinese mob finds a rift forming between him and his corrupt police officer brother. Welcome to the "black society", the underworld that exists just beyond the periphery of our vision.

    In this world, many of the characters have a grey, ambiguous morality, and (in the words of Tom Mes) "nobody does what you expect them to do." In this sense, the film is not terribly far removed from the classic noir with ...