A yakuza enforcer is ordered to secretly drive his beloved colleague to be assassinated. But when the colleague unceremoniously disappears en route, the trip that follows is a twisted, surreal and horrifying experience.
Set in a post apocalyptic Yokohama where the population is kept under rigid control by a half crazed mayor, Riki Takeuchi is a hard boiled cop and Show Aikawa a mellowed out drifter that hooks up with a gang of rebels. When the gang kidnap Takeuchi's son, the wheels are set in motion that leads to an inevitable showdown.Written by
While Miike Takashi has not written any of the films he has directed, his style and formula (or lack thereof) has made him a force to be reckoned with in modern filmmaking. He takes the most mundane of stories and scenarios and gives it a fresh jolt of adrenaline and emotion, making his films seem as fresh and as original as anything by David Lynch or Stanley Kubrick. "Dead or Alive: Hanzaisha" was about a cop and a criminal struggling against each other and ultimately destroying both their families and themselves. "Dead or Alive 2: Tôbôsha" was about two hitmen rediscovering their innocence only to lose it again and ultimately destroy themselves. Now we have "Dead or Alive: Final," the third and final installment in a trilogy of films that are unrelated to each other...and yet they've all got something in common besides the director and the two main actors.
"Dead or Alive: Final" plunges us into Yokohama of 2346, where a homosexual mayor has outlawed human breeding and keep srigid control through use of birth control pills and his chief enforcer, Officer Honda (Takeuchi Riki). Standing in the mayor's way is a group of rebels, led by Fong (Terence Yin) and Jun (Josie Ho), who now have a new ally, a "replicant" by the name of Ryo (Aikawa Sho, still sporting his cool blond hair). Immediately, the "Blade Runner" references run rampant, right down to the terminology. The use of the word "replicant" to describe Ryo, the omnipresent floating blimp with the huge TV screens flashing advertisements, the decrepit rain-swept environment of a ravaged city, even the characters themselves, all homages to "Blade Runner." Oh but there are other sci-fi nods too. Elements of "THX-1138," "The Matrix," "The Terminator," etc...it's all there, making "Dead or Alive: Final" almost a satire (and sometimes a parody) of sci-fi cinema.
There's more than just the humorous nod to sci-fi going on. Yet again, Miike has given us a few thrills via his "Don't expect anything" style. While there is nothing truly shocking in this film compared to its predecessors (save for the ending), there is still the nod to Kitano's films (i.e. beautiful scenery, long shots of characters, and even a few beach scenes). But while Kitano is poetic, Miike is like a jackhammer, hitting you full-on in the face with his own brand of filmmaking. The story is nothing new, and even the characters are easily understood and familiar, but there is something about Miike's gritty take on the conventions of genres and cinema that gives it an originality. Who else but Miike could make three completely different and unrelated films and tie them all together into a package that is both confusing and cohesive? Okay, so the ending still threw me for a loop, but it was typical of Miike.
In the end, we are left with many of the same themes...the predominant one being that some people just never quit, and in the end it will destroy them. Honda's son is kidnapped, and even after he is returned, he is still hellbent on stopping the rebels. Ryo could easily back out of the fight and go on with his life, but he can't. The evil dictator could easily allow people to live their lives as they see fit, but he refuses to relent. Even a scene where a rebel is given the choice to either die or take the birth control drug, he decides to die for a cause that is pretty much lost. In all three "Dead or Alive" movies, nobody quits...and as a result everybody dies. The people who do know when to back down are the ones who survive. Ryo and Honda can't quit...and in the end, they meet for their final showdown, which resonates their endings in the previous two films. The tie in is not as neat as it could have been, but again, it's typical of Miike to give us something we really would not have expected, and at the same time that it's shocking, it makes a strange kind of sense. "Dead or Alive: Final" ties in all three movies, but not in the way that you might think. It yet again presents the same themes but from a completely different angle. It's like telling the same story...but not the same story. The idea is the same, but the details are different. There is the essence of the "Dead or Alive" films, and is probably the essence of Miike's films. They're nothing new...and yet, they are. It's not for everybody, but it's certainly different.
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