8 April 2017



Controversial Japanese director Takashi Miike likes nothing better thyan directing a good old trilogy of yakuza movies, complete with his trademark scenes of sex, drugs and violence and his favourite theme of exploring the experiences of the Japanese in exile in other countries.

I recently watched, reviewed and bloody loved his other trilogy of yakuza films, his acclaimed 'BLACK SOCIETY TRILOGY,' consisting of the films SHINJUKU TRIAD SOCIETY, RAINY DOG and LEY LINES. Now we're looking at the equally acclaimed DEAD OR ALIVE TRILOGY.

I can definitely promise you more of the same high quality action films mixed with some comedy and a truckload of feels. Takashi Miike isn't just all about the BIFF! BAM! POW! and KERPLUNK!, you know. He's plucked on a heartstring or two in his day as well.

All three of the films in this trilogy stars both Show Aikawa and Riki Takeuchi, two excellent Japanese actors who are pretty easy on the eye as well, Show Aikawa, who's also tried his hand at directing and producing but who prefers acting, was the star of RAINY DOG, the middle film in the 'BLACK SOCIETY TRILOGY.' It was one of the best, most moving films I'd ever seen in my life.

In DEAD OR ALIVE, the first film in the trilogy, the handsome and heavily quiffed-and-coiffed Riki Takeuchi plays Ryuichi, the Chinese triad boss, possible Elvis-lookalike and former yakuza who's struggling to gain control of the Japanese underworld in the seedy, bustling quarter of Shinjuku in which he's settled.

The film's opening montage of glamour, drug-taking, shoot-'em-ups and general mob-handed violence is one of the most exciting openings to a film you'll ever see, by the way. The mobsters are all suited, booted and sporting dark glasses to indicated their high level of coolness, haha. I was nearly glad when it finished because I just wasn't able to keep up the breathless pace. Must be getting old...!

Anyway, Show Aikawa plays Detective Jojima, the copper who's trying to bring dowm Ryuichi and his crew, but it's not as easy as it sounds. Hey, who said it sounded easy? It's not easy at all! Bringing down a mob boss never is. But Jojima is determined to do it. He even neglects his sexually-frustrated wife and his dying teenage daughter in order to work on the case all the hours God sends.

In point of fact, though, we don't know why Jojima is such an emotionally neglectful husband and father. After all, his enemy Ryuichi isn't making him sleep on the couch while his wife lies upstairs, horny but unfulfilled, is he? And the mob wars he's embroiled in at work don't prevent him from hugging or even talking to his daughter, do they? Who knows why Jojima seemingly feels so alienated from his little family?

He'll pay a high price for it, though. Both he and Ryuichi will have lost plenty by the time they come to have their famous showdown on a piece of waste ground out of town somewhere. This showdown is famous (or infamous) for having elements of the surreal about it.

I won't give anything away, but I'll just say this. Ever seen Itchy and Scratchy, the warring cat and mouse duo from THE SIMPSONS, whipping out bigger and bigger weapons with which to kill the other, and they end up destroying the Earth into the bargain? That's a big clue right there, haha.

There are some pretty adult scenes in this film. Ever seen a guy 'jerking off' a dog so he- the dog- will be able to have sex with, erm, a human female? No? Well, boy, are you in for a treat...! The story of what happens to Enema Girl, on her first day as a club hostess too, is absolutely tragic. I'll leave you to find out her heartbreaking fate for yourself...

DEAD OR ALIVE 2: BIRDS, featuring a job-lot of feathers, is probably my favourite film of this mesmerising trilogy. Again, Show Aikawa and Riki Takeuchi are the stars of the show. They play two contract killers who, when they are each sent to kill the same guy, find out that they actually know each other. Their ties run deeper than mere acquaintanceship, though.

It turns out that they were best friends in the orphanage in which they were both brought up, Their
chance meeting as adult hitmen leads them to take a trip to the idyllically beautiful island where they grew up and to visit with their friend and fellow orphan, Kohei, who still lives there. Kohei lives with his pregnant wife and works happily enough as a fisherman.

The three friends relive their happy, carefree island childhoods through a series of flashbacks and talk about their memories. Check out the so-called 'prick poles,' they were pretty funny. I love the three lads playing football in the rain and taking part in the world's oddest summer stock play. I've never seen anything quite like that in any Irish school I've ever been to, haha.

The two killers make a decision on the blissful island of their childhood. Not to go straight, exactly, but to do the next best thing. They're going to use the money they earn from their 'hits' to buy much-needed vaccinations for underprivileged children. It's a lovely idea. But you know what happens to criminals who decide they're going to change their naughty ways, don't you...? I can't say any more about it. It's just too sad.

This film, not to be outdone by its predecessor, features the man with the world's biggest ever sex organ and also a brief scene of necrophilia. Not quite as shocking as someone 'jerking off' a dog in order to get him erect for a sexual encounter with a drugged-out female, but shocking enough, nonetheless, methinks...!

The good news for fans of Takashi Miike or even just good Japanese action cinema is that the entire trilogy, including the third instalment DEAD OR ALIVE: FINAL, is out on a special release at the moment.

This cinematic feast comes courtesy of ARROW VIDEO and FETCH PUBLICITY/FETCH DYNAMIC LTD. and includes some terrific special features, including a great interview with the actor Show Aikawa. How else do you think I found out that he's dipped his toe in directing and producing but that he prefers acting...?

There's a sadness and an edginess to Takashi Miike's work that sits well with the action and violence end of things. Show Aikawa talks with great fondness of the time he spent working with the great director. This magnificent trilogy is the proof of that pudding, if you get me. I would most definitely recommend that you eat it piping hot...


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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