Asian Action
Shinjuku Triad Society
Dir: Takashi Miike
Star: Kippei Shiina, Tomorowo Taguchi, Takeshi Caesar, Shinsuke Izutu
Cert / Year: 18 - R / 1995
Format: DVD R1

ArtsmagicDVD.COM - Japanese Film Specialist
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Corrupt, borderline psychotic cop Tatsuhito sets out to bust the new Dragon Claw gang of triads for dealing drugs, illegal human organ trafficking and prostiution in his town of Shinjuku..... oh, and for muscling in on the Yakuza who pay him of course. Tatsuhito is forced to chase Wang though the seedy underworld of Shinjuku and during his unorthodox investigation, he discovers that his wayward brother is a lawyer for the gang, led by the deranged gay sadist Wang (Tomorowo Takaguchi) .

Shinjuku Triad Society is the opening instalment of the 'Black Society Trilogy' and is one of the earlier offerings of Asian extreme cinema pioneer Takashi Miike. As you would expect from Miike, this isn't just a simple case of cops and robbers. The story has a Taiwanese gang of miscreants muscling in on Yakuza territory, which can only mean bloodshed and death. Add to this a corrupt, psychotic cop trying to stop the Taiwanese gang, led by a homosexual deviant whilst also trying to save his wayward homosexual brother who incidentally is the gang's lawyer and throw in a generous dash of rape and murder and you pretty much have it.

Within the first five minutes you have a coke fuelled gay blowjob in a seedy toilet, a bloody cop murder and a body cavity search of a young, nymphomaniac and excitable prostitute who promptly gets smashed in the face by a chair. Oh yes, and a short Muay Thai bout, but nothing really special and you would only get this little lot in a Taskashi Miike film. You get the impression right from the start that this isn't going to be a straightforward sort of affair. Miike's distinctive direction provides a dark and edgy thriller which is very stylish and a bit rough around the edges. Apart from the action scenes, the pacing is slow and the action is nothing outstanding or innovative. There are an average assortment of one or two mediocre fight scenes, a couple of bloody battles but nothing up to Miike's usual standard fare of really in your face, blood spraying, gratuitous no holds barred action. You do get a couple of familiar touches of extreme violence, bloody grotesques and spurting blood, not to mention the other signature traits of sexual depravity. You even get a decidedly iffy Police interogation by use of Sodomy, which is rather disturbing and certainly makes the flesh creep when you witness it on screen.

Shinjuku Triad Society is undeniably a prominent piece of Asian extreme cinema and certainly one of Takashi Miike's most renowned pieces. But, despite the critical acclaim, compared some of his other works this just isn't that impressive. The story is a well-trodden tale, with the usual elements of elder brother protecting the younger from a dark life, the familiar theme of Chinese / Japanese relations, perversion and an unhealthy interest in anal sex and homoerotic imagery and of course violence and power. Although this isn't as wild or excessive as some later works, this is a very stylish offering and a cool watch as a spicy and occasionally brutal gangster movie. There are some intense performances on show here and some pretty surreal ones too. Tomorowo Taguchi (Tetsuo, Dead or Alive) plays the deranged gay sadist Wang with frightening ease. The ensemble cast do a reasonible job and there are a couple of intense and cool performances but some of the memorable ones are not memorable for good reasons. There are better Yakuza films out there, and this may have been pretty shocking upon first release, but it has now been far surpassed by later more accomplished titles such as Audition and Ichi the Killer.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Picture 2.35:1 Anamorphic Good transfer but the darks occasionally bleed
Audio Dolby Stereo Good soundtrack nice and clear even if it doesn't make full use of the format.
Features 2 Interviews with Director Takashi Miike
Interview with Editor Yasushi Shimamura
Full length commentary track with Japanese cinema writer Tom Mes
Biographies and filmographies
2 short but interesting interviews With Director Takashi Miike
Verdict Not a bad disc, there are a couple of interesting interviews and a decent presentation.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home