If David Lynch moved to Japan and started making yakuza gangster thrillers, the result might be Gozu. The latest film from Japan's one-man film factory Takashi Miike could be the fatherless offspring of some illicit midnight union between Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet, and the director's own Dead Or Alive trilogy. Part yakuza movie, part horror flick, it follows yakuza underling Minami (Hideki Sone) who's ordered to whack his erratic boss Ozaki (Shô Aikawa), but finds himself trapped in a surreal suburb after the corpse goes walkabout.
To say Gozu steps beyond the bounds of sanity is rather like saying that Jeffrey Dahmer had unusual dietary habits. Anyone unfamiliar with Miike's weird and twisted assaults on cinema might be best advised to think twice before submitting themselves to this insane-in-the-membrane outing. In fact, even hardcore Miike fans will probably be left in a tailspin by Gozu's bizarre psychodrama.
Opening with a scene in which crazy Ozaki mistakes a Chihuahua for a "yakuza attack dog", and then neutralises the threat with inimitable overkill, Gozu takes no prisoners. It focuses on the traditional yakuza movie themes of loyalty, camaraderie, and a blood-soaked code of honour, with Miike taking Minami on a journey into his guilt-ridden psyche as he's forced to kill the man he calls brother. Trapped in a psychotic town where no one is what they seem while searching for Ozaki's missing corpse, Minami is pursued by a lactating woman, a transvestite coffee shop owner, an American who reads the Japanese dialogue off giant cue cards, and a ghostly minotaur's head (the 'gozu' of the title).
"CONSISTENTLY INNOVATIVE AND UNPREDICTABLE"
From the sex war horror of Audition to the splatter gore of Ichi The Killer, Miike's films have always been edgy affairs, but none have seemed as rich or as perverse as this. A one-way ticket to Weirdsville, it occasionally ambles into cul-de-sacs of its own making, but ultimately proves that Miike is one of the most consistently innovative and unpredictable directors in the world. Let's just hope he keeps forgetting to take his medication.
In Japanese with English subtitles.