More often that not, a low rating on IMDb is a sure sign that a film is a turkey, but once in a while it's a sign that a lot of people just haven't got it. I think Raigyo falls into this second camp.
It's sold as 'Pinku Eiga' ('Pink Cinema' - Japan's surprisingly creative take on Erotica) but there's not a lot of sex, and virtually no eroticism to justify the tag. Instead we get a bleak, but engaging journey into mental illness, disconnection and psychopathy. If I'm honest, after watching the yawn-fest that was Kokkuri, I didn't expect much from Zeze, but here he proves himself to be a filmmaker of some skill. Raigyo perfectly captures a sense of desolate liminality - the action taking place in a part-marshland, part-industrial hinterland. The characters too, hover somewhere between intrigue and inscrutability; misfits, like the snake-headed fish of the film's title.
Given its short run time (75 mins), Raigyo, is, if anything, a little too opaque for its own good. The violence is explicit - and shocking in its banality - but the protagonists' motivations and back stories are barely fleshed out at all. We're plunged right into the here and now, and, like the police in the film, left to fill in the blanks. The final CCTV tracking shot brings this point home, as Yanai and his strange companion disappear into the crowd. In a way though, its refusal to explain is a large part of the film's appeal.
Dir. Takahisa Zeze, 1997