22 January 2017



The 'BLACK SOCIETY TRILOGY' has got to be controversial Japanese movie director Takashi Miike at his absolute finest. It consists of three separate stand-alone films, but they're all connected in terms of place and theme and the kind of seedy, ultra-violent characters you might find in them. The films are SHINJUKU TRIAD SOCIETY (1995); RAINY DOG (1997); and LEY LINES (1998).

RAINY DOG is the story of an exiled Japanese yakuza hitman called Yuuji. He's in his mid-to-late thirties, devastatingly handsome and all quiffed up like a young Cliff Richard. He wears sunglasses all the time and a long light-coloured coat and he thinks it's unlucky to go out in the rain because his grandma told him so. He's the strong silent type who says very little, preferring to let his- usually deadly- actions speak for themselves.

You know the way you can watch pay-per-view football or boxing matches on your television? Well, Yuuji is a sort of freelance pay-per-kill hitman or assassin. Currently, he's working for a guy who has him pick off members of rival gangs. Well, you can see how having a guy like Yuuji in your pocket would be handy...!

Yuuji's solitary and not very happy-seeming existence is interrupted one day by the arrival of an angry and upset ex-girlfriend with a small child in tow. The boy is Yuuji's, she claims. He's called Ah-Chen, he's mute and Yuuji is going to have to look after him for a bit and do his share of the work. Yuuji is less than ecstatic about this news but his ex-girlfriend does a runner, leaving him with very much a fait accompli, as they say in the French.

From now on, everywhere Yuuji goes, the adorable little boy follows at a distance, ignored and for the most part unacknowledged by his cold and distant father. The boy watches in shock and horror as his Dad continues to carry out his deadly hits regardless of the child's presence. Or 'irregardless!,' as the legend that is Homer Simpson might say.

Ah-Chen forages about in garbage bins for food while his father visits a prostitute called Lilly. He befriends a gorgeous little hungry 'ANDREX'- type puppy in the soaking-wet alley outside the whorehouse while Yuuji has sex with Lilly and gorges himself on hot food between sex sessions.

On the face of it, Yuuji doesn't seem to really cut it as 'Father Of The Year,' but we can't help guessing at the presence of some finer feelings deep down inside the guy nonetheless. Though he's a brutal killer in one way, we can tell he's lonely and just seeking to make a connection with someone in another.

He's drawn to Lilly, the beautiful young prostitute from the whorehouse, and when a contract is put out on him by the brother of a man he's killed, he grabs the girl and his son and goes on the run. When they're all three of 'em digging the motorised scooter out of the sand together down on the beach, they almost look like a family.

The rain falls constantly in this film, hence the title. The film is set in Taiwan and the sight of the heavy rainfall dropping on the slick roofs of the clustered-together houses, many of which resemble little more than shacks, is beautifully done. This is my favourite of all of Takashi Miike's many films, and he's got quite the back catalogue, haha.

It's the rain that does it, the rain and the scenery and the bleak emptiness of Yuuji's heart which looks for a while like it could be filled with a kind of love from Lilly and the boy. God, I'm such a sucker for the strong silent type. It's always been my downfall, that, only ever fancying the bad boys.

Like many other chicks of my ilk, I can excuse a guy any number of atrocities as long as it looks like he's got a tortured soul. I'm easily impressed, haha. And easily led astray and taken-in too, sadly, which goes with the territory. I always think I can change guys or even 'save' 'em, which of course is utter bullshit because the only person who can change or save someone is themselves. That never stops women like me from trying, though...!

Tomorowo Taguchi, who played evil clan boss Wang in SHINJUKU TRIAD SOCIETY, the first instalment in the movie trilogy, turns up here again as a mentally-unstable (actually, he seems demented!) hitman with a grudge against Yuuji. He's practically a derelict in this film, a far cry from
his role in the first film as the handsome homosexual boss of the deadly organisation known as 'The Dragon's Claw,' when he was getting blowjobs and adulation and whatnot round the clock...!

I love when Lilly is undressing Yuuji for sex in the whorehouse and is staggered at the sight of his magnificently tattooed back and shoulders, a sure sign of yakuza membership. They make such a sexy couple but not in an obvious way, both flawed, both damaged, both f***ed-up, maybe beyond repair. Isn't it funny how life brings people like that together sometimes? Broken people finding each other. There's a kind of desolate poetry to it.

This film, by the way, isn't as violent or as sexually perverted as SHINJUKU TRIAD SOCIETY but I like it better, somehow. It's so real and gritty and bleak and everything in it feels so authentic, from the dripping-wet scenery to the interpersonal relationships. Takashi Miike handles these last with a light touch but we feel them all the more deeply for it.

The good news is that all three films in this magnificent trilogy by one of Japan's most acclaimed film-makers have been out on DVD and Blu-Ray since January 16th, 2017, courtesy of ARROW FILMS. They all come complete with extra features, the delicious details of which I'm including for you now to drool and slaver over, haha. Here they come:

High Definition digital transfers of all three films
Original uncompressed stereo audio
Optional English subtitles for all three films
New interview with director Takashi Miike
New interview with actor Show Aikawa (Rainy Dog, Ley Lines)
New audio commentaries for all three films by Miike biographer Tom Mes
Original theatrical trailers for all three films
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the films.

I love this film maybe more than any film I've ever seen. It's the unrelenting rain, the cute kid, the adorable homeless puppy, the messed-up woman and the seemingly unreachable killer with the layer of ice round his heart that does it. Do yourself a favour and watch this superb trilogy. Women especially, take note. Your inner 'mother-saviours' will surely thank you...


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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