Since the early 1990s, Japanese cult director Takashi Miike has made an astounding 93 films (and counting) and become one of the most recognizable directors in the world, with his films celebrated at both the Cannes Film Festival, and local exploitation fests. The worlds that he creates – full of yakuza, hitmen, individuals with warped moralities and those pushed to the margins of societies – are fables of an idiosyncratic universe that is bound by a logic only his. Moving fluidly from blood-filled gangster films, to historical samurai epics, to warped family dramas to children’s films (!), Miike is a prodigious and ravenously adventurous filmmaker, with few equals.
This month, Cinema Asian American presents a primer on his films – five must-sees from his filmography, including his now-classic, 2001 film, “Ichi the Killer,” which finds a twister killer on the loose, willing to employ any tactics to meet his ends, including not only knives, boiling oil and noodles.
“13 Assassins,” 2010
In this historical epic, a group of noble samurai seek to slay a tyrannical, politically connected lord before he seizes control of the entire country.
“Yakuza: Like a Dragon,” 2007
Based on the hit video game “Yakuza: Like a Dragon” is a live-action gangster flick like nothing you have ever seen before! On one long, hot summer night, after billions are stolen from a Yakuza clan, Tokyo’s streets are alive with hitmen, former loves, gangsters and orphans criss-crossing the metropolis in search of each other. Starring Kazuki Kitamura, Goro Kishitani.
“Crows: Episode 0,” 2007
The teenage son of a Japanese organized-crime leader begins school at an institute for juvenile delinquents, where he tries to make a name for himself as a bully in an effort to impress his classmates and his father. His actions quickly escalate and soon are entwined with biker gangs, Yakuza and more!
“Ichi the Killer,” 2001
Perhaps Miike’s most well-known film, “Ichi” is a nightmarish thriller about a sadomasochistic gangster (Tadanobu Asano) on the trail of a ruthless assassin (Nao Omori). Many of Miike’s most memorable scenes, including torture by tempura and enough bloodletting to satisfy the most hardened of viewers.
“Zebraman 2: The Attack on Zebra City,” 2011
In this follow-up to Miike’s original 2004 “Zebraman,” Earth’s Queen has stolen the self-identified superhero Zebraman’s powers and instituted Zebra Time: ten horrifying minutes each day when murder is legal!