Who knew Takashi had a little sweetheart in him? This sequel subverts the narrative expectations from the first DOA, and using the same two leads, crafts a sentimental/existential exploration of fate and memory...be aware, however, that this IS a Miike film, so there's plenty of surreal/hyperkinetic violence to be found...
A sequel to the original film in name only, Dead Or Alive 2 follows two childhood friends as they turn their backs on a life of crime, instead opting to use their well-honed killing skills to fight back against the very crime syndicates which raised them. Fans of Takashi Miike will recognize all of the usual hallmarks: extreme violence is handled casually, skillfully, and the storytelling leaves little to be desired.
(3.5 stars) Subverting the insanity of the first film, Miike shows us another way to be a madman: don't be a madman. He uses far more subtle ways of showing the violence of the yakuza while his main story is a more gentle reuniting of childhood friends. It's still an odd "bird" of a film, but much more grounded than its predecessor and shows us a lot more maturity from Miike, albeit one laced with bloody urine.
Another of Miike's very recurrent themes: nostalgia and childhood. The characters revisit their past to understan themselves better in the present. All shot with a dreamlike atmosphere, subtle and always paying attention to the characters. Many consider this one of Miike's best, and it's hard to argue against that. Aikawa and Takeuchi are in top form, not to mention Shinya Tsukamoto and Kenichi Endo.
If you survived DEAD OR ALIVE and Takashi Miike's bad taste, you may appreciate DEAD OR ALIVE 2: THE BIRDS and its melancholic and pastoral atmosphere. Or you may not. Because the last third of the film will remind you that the director knows how to offend the sensibility of the common viewer. It's a little bit vacuous at times but nevertheless interesting if you're a curious movie lover.