Tuesday, September 29, 2015

YAKUZA DEMON (2003)

Made only a year after DEADLY OUTLAW: RIKKA, YAKUZA DEMON is very similar in story: Foot soldier Seiji (Riki Takeuchi) looks to the boss, Mr. Muto, of his small yakuza family as a father.  So when Mr. Muto owes the larger Date Family money, he agrees to personally kill an executive of the rival Tendo Family in payment for his debt. Seiji knows Mr. Muto will be killed so he calls the cops and they arrest him on minor gun charges. The Date Family believes Mr. Muto chickened out and called the cops himself. Seiji is angered by this insult...things escalate and before long Seiji and his faithful yakuza brother begin attacking the heads of the Tendo themselves. He has become a "stray dog", a "demon".

Despite the colorful title there's nothing excessively bizarre going on like in some other Miike films.  That said, there are a few moments that did stick out for that unique Miike touch: the Date Family bosses are having a meeting and the one boss (Kazuya Nakayama from DETECTIVE STORY) doesn't move at all for 100 seconds!  He just sits there completely motionless, like he's frozen.  Another clever bit was when a yakuza guy goes to eat with his girlfriend.  They're sitting outside under a umbrella and rain (a lot of rain) splashes up on the camera lens, then some dramatic stuff starts happening and suddenly the action is being filmed from a camera shooting the action on a computer monitor!!!  At one moment it even shows the top of the video player!  I don't think I've ever seen that before: a camera recording a monitor displaying the movie we're currently watching and the original camera lens is covered in rain.  When the one guy fires his gun the muzzle flash reflects on the water on the camera lens!  Absolutely brilliant.

Amazing cast, quick pace, brilliant editing, a Miike cameo(?), cinematography that should be studied in film school and of course great direction.  Highly recommended.  Double feature with DEADLY OUTLAW REKKA.

Also make sure to watch the very funny alternate ending which is a play on the insane ending from DEAD OR ALIVE.  I liked it even better than the real ending.