Monday, 17 May 2010

Dead Or Alive

One, Two, Three, Four... GAAAHHHHHHH!!! Dead Or Alive kicks off in a blaze of sex, violence and gastronomic obscenity, tongue firmly in cheek.

By all accounts, DOA was made as a reaction to the studio, who presented the director with two bankable leads, a vehicle for a commercial franchise and told him to drive it wherever he wanted. A dangerous thing to do when your director is Takashi Miike. Miike, being the enfant terrible he is, has made a grotesque parody of a gangland drama, gleefully outdoing himself scene after scene. One pungently corporeal scene, where a girl is drowned in a pool of her own shit and a yakuza boss stamps down on her lifeless body proclaiming "I've done it again!" smacks of wry self-mockery on Miike's part.

Sure it's over the top, scarcely believable and lacking the complexity you find in his best work, but it's a hell of a ride! DOA gives us a turf war between a gang of street punks, led by Chinese immigrant Ryuichi, and a Triad/Yakuza syndicate. It's ultraviolent to the point of lunacy, bodies stacking up like a Jenga tower, and the all-consuming rivalry between Ryuichi and Jojima plays out like a wittier, smarter version of Violent Cop.

And then there's the ending. In typically post-modern style, Ryuichi murmurs "Here comes the last scene", before all hell breaks loose. Without giving the game away, let's just say there's a slight change of, well, reality. It's guaranteed to leave you with your jaw on the floor when the credits roll, in much the same way as the opening sequence does.

Dir. Takashi Miike, 1999

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