The opening montage is the most impressive thing about Miike's first 'Dead or Alive' film. For all the film's depravity and mondo ending the overall feeling watching this one was boredom. A terrible performance by Riki Takeuchi only adds to the problems. Miike has made some very impressive films over the years...this isn't one of them.
It's sad that the opening sequence where we know zero about any character or have a context for the action is more interesting than the proceeding 'actual' storytelling. When it's without action and strangeness, Miike loses his footing. Despite Lynchian moments and the brilliantly staged action scenes, they come too sporadically, while the film lacks in momentum to be good trash, and in intellect to be anything but.
It seems like an intentional mess that takes action, family drama, pornography and mashes them together, but each segment feels disjointed and not fully developed. Because of that, indifference is the main impression that is given until the end. And then, everything changes to something for which "larger than life" comes of as an understatement. One can wonder what would it be if the rest of the movie was like that.
Those familiar with Takashi Miike's controversial reputation for extreme violence will feel at home here, as will those familiar with his highly esteemed track record. NOT based on the popular video games, Dead Or Alive is a crime drama set in the underground world of the Yakuza, a crime syndicate which feature prominently in the film. Those who enjoy deftly-crafted violence will love it, right down to the ending.
The first eight minutes is an intense, balls-to-the-wall firehose of visual chaos. If you make it through that, then you've got a mostly-conventional cops and yakuza caper, with scattered moments of shock and disgust. Then in the last ten minutes, the movie goes completely over the top. Don't analyze it. Just sit back and accept it. Rules don't apply in a Takashi Miike film.
First ten minutes = insanity. Utter insanity. Middle = Pretty mundane with flashes of Lynchian bizarre moments. Last ten minutes = cool as hell. Ridiculousness. Ending = What the hell. Basic Yakuza crime story littered throughout with Miike moments of shocking scenes and images. Not sure they amount to more than just taboo shockers. Miike don't care. He just don't care. He be crazy. Straight up crazy.
Nobody else blends perversity and pathos quite like Miike (see the Black Society Trilogy, Audition) and this movie hits both notes shrilly and often superbly, tho the second movie in the trilogy is much, much better, IMO, and for the end, a simple but effective visual metaphor for the characters' emotional apocalypse....