Gary Collinson selects Five Essential Films of Takashi Miike…
Cult Japanese director Takashi Miike is one of the most prolific filmmakers working today, with over seventy credits since his debut in 1991. Miike’s body of work is often violent, sexually perverse and bizarre, mixing elements of different genres to create his own distinct style, which has helped to build a reputation as the king of Asian extreme cinema...
5. Audition (1999)
The film which brought Miike to the attention of Western audiences, Audition tells the story of middle-aged widower Aoyama, who is pressured by a friend into holding auditions to find a new love. Aoyama becomes drawn towards Asami, a quiet and reserved girl who lives alone in an empty apartment. As they get to know one another, Asami opens up and confides in Aoyama about abuse she suffered as a child, and asks that he only love her. However, when Asami discovers a photograph of Aoyama’s dead wife she feels betrayed and the disturbed young woman sets about extracting a brutal and violent revenge. Perhaps the best-known of Miike’s works, in my opinion Audition is also the most over-rated.
4. Visitor Q (2001)
Visitor Q is one of Miike’s most shocking and controversial films, containing graphic sex, incest, necrophilia, lactation, murder, and psychological abuse. A dysfunctional family headed by a failed television presenter (who has sex with his own daughter at the start of the movie for a documentary he is making) are visited by a stranger who, after seducing each of them in turn, manages to change their lives. Visitor Q is insanely disturbing viewing and it is perhaps testament to the director that he manages to inject humour into some of the more reprehensible scenes. Be advised – proceed only with extreme caution!
3. Dead or Alive (1999)
The original Dead or Alive is an ultra low-budget crime thriller and the first of a trilogy of unrelated films starring two of Japan’s biggest cult actors, Riki Takeuchi and Sho Aikawa. It centres on the conflict between two mortal enemies - a Triad boss (Takeuchi) and police detective (Aikawa) – against the backdrop of a Yakuza gang war. Like the majority of Miike’s films it is littered with stylised violence and sexual perversions, and builds towards a climax so absurd and far out that it leaves the viewer absolutely speechless.
2. Ichi the Killer (2001)
An uncompromising, cruel and vicious Yakuza thriller based upon Hideo Yamamoto’s manga of the same name, Ichi the Killer is without doubt the most brutal film on this list, and possibly the most violent movie I’ve had the pleasure of watching (even with the BBFC cuts). While investigating the gruesome murder of his boss, masochistic Yakuza enforcer Kakihara becomes obsessed with the sadistic Ichi, a confused and psychotic young man whom Kakihara believes will allow him to experience the ultimate in pain and suffering. Uncomfortable viewing from the start, Ichi the Killer is a true highlight of extreme cinema and Miike at his twisted best.
1. The Happiness of the Katakuris (2001)
Devoid of the extreme violence and sexual perversions common to his work, The Happiness of the Katakuris is a perfect example of Miike’s range as a filmmaker. The Katakuri family run a struggling guest house where each customer has a habit of turning up dead in the morning. To save their business the family try to conceal the deaths by burying the bodies, but soon the situation begins to spiral out of control. A loose remake of the South Korean movie The Quiet Family (1998), The Happiness of the Katakuris is an infinitely superior film, expertly weaving elements of comedy, horror, animation, and song and dance into one of the most bizarre, crazy, and downright entertaining movies I have ever seen. Absolutely fantastic.
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