Comfortable and Furious

Dead or Alive (2002)

WARNING: This motion picture contains explicit portrayals of violence; sex; violent sex; sexual violence; clowns and violent scenes of violent excess, which are definitely not suitable for all audiences.

I think Matt would hate this movie because he doesn’t seem to like artsploitation flicks and he disliked Visitor Q, also directed by Miike. I like this film largely because I do like artsploitation and Miike is the deserving king of that niche.

I purchased this DVD knowing that a character is drowned in a kiddy pool full of feces. I did not know that afterwards her killer says, “I did it again.” I’m not sure how specific the killer was being, but if he meant what I think he did: “I drowned a woman in a kiddy pool full of feces, again,” the scene is a pretty good representative for the rest of the film. There are moments of shock, humor and drama that are beyond expectation, often followed quickly by moments that again break expectations. Dead or Alive is one of the most surprising movies I’ve seen.

Dead or Alive offers an unsurpassed abundance of violence, novelty deaths and depravity. Miike might have pitched this film as a cross between The Piano Teacher and Commando, although that only begins to cover the shifts in tone or the wildness of the film’s content. It would be interesting to learn exactly how many biblical proscriptions are violated. There’s murder, bestiality, sodomy, homosexuality, making one’s own hand into tempura Of course, such extreme content is the biggest reason Miike has reached an international audience, but he does bring real art to his artsploitation. Beyond shocking so creatively, Miike is just a good filmmaker.

His general skill is demonstrated more clearly in Audition, which is a well made, conventional film until about 3/4s of the way through. Watching Dead or Alive you might note the camera work, editing and general command and infer that Miike needn’t rely on shock and gore but the shock and gore never stop, so you wouldn’t know for sure.

Unlike Audition, this film is very tough to follow, especially for a round eye such as myself. There are a lot of characters in the film, all are Asian, all speak Japanese, most are in the same age group and most are male. Frankly, it’s hard to tell them apart. [Ed Note: All Jews look alike, too.] My confusion was exacerbated by the fact that this is one of those stories in which a bunch of characters and plot threads begin apart and gradually merge together. At the end, I still had only a vague idea of what had happened. Basically, several factions of similar-looking criminals and a Kitano clone cop kill each other. I can’t provide much more detail than that. I think that at least part of my confusion is due to a lack of clarity in the film and has nothing to do with my horrible racism. Anyway, confusion wasn’t that much of an issue because I was so entertained.

Special Ruthless Ratings

  • Number of minutes, out of 89, that had to be cut for an “R” rating: 7
  • Number of scenes cut: 7
  • Did you watch the “R” rated version: Of course not.
  • Which version will I get at Hollywood Video or Blockbuster: The one made safe for children, Christians and the mentally deficient
  • Is that any different from Clean Flicks: Not reallySpecial, Special Ruthless Ratings

Extra Special Ruthless Ratiings

Typically, is one or more person killed or brutalized within the first 5 minutes of the director’s films?

Quite often. Take Dead Or Alive for example. Now in the first 5 minutes, you get this guy fucking or possibly raping this other guy in a toilet. Another dude walks in and slits the “giver’s” throat. The receiver turns around and catches the blood in his mouth. Another guy gets his head blown off with a shotgun. Some other dude is seen eating bowl after bowl of noodles. Of course he is eventually shot and we see his stomach explode, and noodles propel themselves toward the camera, but this is after everyone else in the restaurant is mowed down in a hail of bullets. For Christ’s sakes the very first thing in the film you see is a girl’s body plummeting out of a high rise and splatter onto the floor.



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