Wednesday, November 17, 2010
DVD Review: Deadly Outlaw: Rekka (2002)
DEADLY OUTLAW: REKKA (2002)
RATING: 18 Certificate
RUN TIME: 96 Min.
REGION: 0 PAL
DIRECTOR: Takashi Miike
CAST: Riki Takeuchi (Kunisada), Sonny Chiba, Joe Yamanaka, Yuy Ichida
SYNOPSIS: Following the death of his boss, crazed killer Kunisada (Riki Takeuchi) embarks on a violent quest for revenge, one that takes him on a deadly and surreal road trip as he searches for those responsible for the killing. Driven by madness and a volatile temper, he soon finds himself up against both his enemies and his own Yakuza allies. Pursued by a pair of hitmen, Kunisada is at once the hunter and the hunted, a pawn in a complex game being played out by a cast of double-crossing villains. With his situation spiralling out of control, he realizes that to be the winner will require him to take matters to furthest extreme.
FILM: Five minutes into Takashi Miike's Deadly Outlaw: Rekka (2002) I was hooked. It starts of all guns blazing and is unrelenting 'til the end. Takashi Miike is one of the more prolific filmmakers working todayand one could spend a lifetime delving into his filmography but as is stands I've only seen a handful of his works, so pitiful are they in number I'll share them with you... Audition (1999), the "Box" segment of the Three... Extremes (2004) anthology film, the "Imprint" episode of Showtime's Masters of Horror and Sukiyaki Western Django (2007) ...pitiful, I told you.
At the start of Deadly Outlaw: Rekka we get some kick-ass Japanese rock n' roll from a band called Flower Travellin' Band, a very raucous proto-metal band and their Satori album comprises the entire soundtrack for the film, great stuff. The acid-tinged Black Sabbath-esque music announces a flurry of action as two hit-men take out the elderly Yakuza boss Uchida and his entourage in a bloody hail of adrenalized gunfire, it's complete non-stop bad assery. The elder boss of the clan is the last to go but not before he gets a death-grasp on the assassin's neck. So firm in fact that even in death he will not relinquish his mighty grip. Despite being severed at the forearm they remain clung to the man's neck. This is when it struck me that the film was going to be darkly humorous. It turns out that the elder Yakuza boss was the father of Kunisama - a Korean blooded hot head of epic proportions. Enraged he swears vengeance but the Yakuza families see his death as a natural restructuring of the crime families and tell Kunisama not to not take it personally. Forget it, this guy is out for blood and sets out on a journey to kill the Otaki bosses who paid the assassins even as the families conspire to elimate Kunisama who they see as a threat. Kunisama is nearly insane and is a force of nature when he loses his cool. When confronted on the street by members of the Otaki clan he snaps and takes-on all 5 members with a crowbar. The scene is masterfuly shot and edited, frenetic and completely brutal. The crazed look in his eye is disturbing and says a lot about his state of mind. He's clearly over the edge and decimates them all single-handedly.
As the remainder of the film plays out Kunisama joined by his best-friend mow through Yakuza conspirators dispatching them in bloody-fashion. He even going as far to use a rocket-launcher (which was awesome, darkly comic and awesome) until they finally come face to face with the two enigmatic assassins responsible for his Uchido's death. In typical Miike fashion the film is weird, gratuitous and top heavy with surreal moments of over-the-top ultra-violence and gore, so much so that the camera lense itself is splattered with blood several times.
DVD: The Deadly Outlaw: Rekka will be released on DVD for the first time by Arrow Video on November 22nd 2010. The film receives a brand new transfer with new and improved English subtitle translation. Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen with a Japanese language 5.1 soundtrack. The special features are not particularly plentiful but the 48 minutes of interviews with Miike are illuminating as he discusses key scenes in the film, the actors and collaborator, filmscore and the ending and it's interpretations. Sadly, my screener of the DVD did not include Arrow Video's usually awesome artwork or the booklet (sigh) but the interviews with Miike were fantastic and insightful. Good stuff.
- Original Trailer (1:19)
- Video Interview with director Takashi Miike (18:12)
- Deadly Outlaw: Miike (30:25)
- Booklet featuring stills and an essay on the film by Tom Mes, author of ‘Agitator: The Cinema of Takashi Miike’
- Notes on prog rockers Flower Travellin’ Band written by Sam Jones.
VERDICT: This film is completely batshit-nuts and a must-see in my opinion. I've seen but a handfiul of Miike's many, many film but thus far this is my favorite. I'm not well-versed in the workld of Yakuza Cinema and this one has me piqued my interest in the genre. This is Arrow Video's first foray into Asian Cinema and good on 'em, next up is the cult Japanese film Battle Royale from director Kinji Fukasaku on Blu-ray and DVD.
**** (4 out of 5 stars)