Unrated - Cinema of the Extreme

There’s nothing routine about the films of Takashi Miike, and this 1996 offering is no exception. Although made quickly and cheaply in a familiar genre, FUDOH: THE NEW GENERATION is as twisted, bizarre and colourful as one could hope for coming within the framework of the Yakuza film. Taking a bizarre and excessive spin on the common themes of revenge and obligation, it eschews the restraints of realism and common sense in what amounts to a highly charged, visceral film experience that manages to be sick, tasteless and above all thrilling in its extremity.

Hotheaded gangster Ryu Fudoh becomes a liability to the powerful Nioh clan when he stirs up tensions with rivals that need quelling. His father takes full responsibility to gratify his superiors, in order to maintain the peace, and beheads Ryu while his younger son Riki spies in disbelief. Ten years later, Riki (Shosuke Tanihara) has built up a gang of his own, hidden under the veil of school routine. He uses his army of misfits, including murderous little boys and a pair of strange femme fatales, to exact his own form of revenge and wipe out the Nioh elite. When Isao finds out about crafty Riki, he is persuaded by a higher force to do away with his boy. Using illegitimate son Wong to stand in as a teacher, he plans to massacre them from within.

FUDOH: THE NEW GENERATION features some of the most bizarre images and situations conceivable, and remains potent even in the light of excesses seen in more recent films by the director as ICHI THE KILLER and AUDITION. From the opening massacre of an informer, we are treated to the amazingly off-kilter universe that is Miike’s head: despite being half dead, the said stoolie repeatedly punches holes in the cubicle he’s enclosed in, and although torn with bullets he has the strength to flush an incoming grenade down the toilet, which promptly goes down the pipes and blows the top from a manhole. The aftermath of the set piece proves Miike’s abilities not only as an offbeat entertainer but also stylist: gun smoke turns the scene into a misty haze; a sprinkler washes up spilled blood and spent bullets.

Archetypes such as the femme fatale are hilariously inverted. Instead of experienced, world-weary women they turn out to be fresh schoolgirls; and the kinky showgirl is a hermaphrodite who shoots darts from a blowgun in her vagina at targets in a memorably cheesy club. A great deal invention as gone into using the murderous students as to mete out Riki’s vengeance: two little boys shoot a Nioh elite with pistols; and Riki’s other deadly woman, Dohko, provides poison-laced coffee to one which makes him bleed incessantly and turns the screen into a red sticky canvas. One such scene betrays the influence of the great Shinya Tsukamoto. Although Dohko’s machine gun massacre is superficially conventional, it is interspersed with TV footage of a riot. This resembles a scene from the excellent BULLET BALLET, and injects chaos and fury into the frame of action.

Riki’s father Isao is used to parody the conventional theme of obligation from Japanese cinema. He’s willing to behead even his own son if custom requires it, and he plonks the frozen noggin on the table and starts giggling in the company of his bosses to heighten the comical aspects. Isao’s motivations are exposed to absurd extremes when his dealings with Nohma are revealed: the pair want to consolidate their power over in Korea to wage war with America! Every character is memorable in his/her own way, such as the laid back behemoth Aizome, and the two teen schoolgirls who aid Riki. As Riki, Tanihara is appropriately intense behind his cool exterior; and as the slobbish Wong, Takeshi Caesar masks his nasty killings with a nonchalance that makes him even more disturbing.

Mathew Sanderson

 
Directed by Takashi Miike

Japanese with English subtitles
Japan / 1996 / 98 mins / colour

SPECIAL DVD FEATURES:
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Biographies
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Warrior Artwork
An Artsmagic DVD release

Region 2 / PAL / anarmorphic widescreen

www.artsmagic.co.uk

FUDOH: THE NEXT GENERATION (Part of the Takashi Miike Boxset)

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