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Izo (2004)

Cast: Daisaku Akino, Chisato Amate, Mickey Curtis
Director: Takashi Miike, Takashi Miike
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Tokyo Shock
Genre: Foreign, Japan
Languages: English, Japanese
Subtitles: English, Japanese
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The insanely prolific Takashi Miike teams again with screenwriter Shigenori Takechi (Graveyard of Honor) for his first samurai film, Izo. The film begins where Hideo Gosha's 1969 Hitokiri (the last film author Yukio Mishima starred in before his suicide) left off, with the crucifixion and bloody execution of a low-level samurai, Izo (Kazuya Nakayama). After death, Izo's spirit travels through history and ends up in the present day, where he finds himself among the downtrodden. Before long, his sword becomes the instrument of vengeance, and it seems he is seeking revenge on all humankind. Jumping through time and space, Izo goes on a wild killing spree that brings him to the attention of Japan's eternal powers, including the Prime Minister ("Beat" Takeshi Kitano in a cameo role) and the androgynous, seemingly all-powerful Emperor (Ryuhei Matsuda). We learn that among Izo's various guises was a doomed soldier who had to leave his lover (Kaori Momoi) to fight in World War II. He spares neither Buddhist monks nor schoolchildren, and eventually, Izo confronts Mother Earth (Haruna Takase) herself in his (perhaps eternal) quest for bloody retribution. The film is loaded with cameos, including Ken Ogata, Ken'ichi Endou, Susumu Terajima, kickboxer Masato, and K1 fighter Bob Sapp. Folksinger Tomokawa Kazuki appears throughout the film, strumming his guitar and commenting on the action as a sort of Greek chorus. Izo was shown by the Film Society of Lincoln Center as part of the 2005 edition of Film Comment Selects. ~ Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Ratings

Izo (2004)
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5.75 (53 votes)
Izo (Bonus Disc) (2004)
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3.75 (4 votes)

GreenCine Member Reviews

the discipline of letting go by liversounds June 2, 2006 - 8:56 PM PDT
at times the film releases into dream-like reality... at other times there is just a guy grunting and screaming as enemies are slashed down...

in either case this is not a typical samurai film because the art/honor of the samurai is nowhere highlighted... on the other hand, this film is typical because evil is confronted ceaselessly, and the enemies keep coming...

HOWEVER: rent this movie for this alone: incredibly fascinating/powerful are the montage scenes that include japanese (bluesy?) guitarist Kazuki Tomokawa spinning beautiful simple poetry--while the film shifts to images of war or dancing or etc... this is emotion and the absurd beautifully presented

(a) history of violence by cammelltoe April 11, 2006 - 1:39 PM PDT
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
miike's 'stab' at a samurai film is a characteristically cock-eyed attempt to expose the senseless violence of humankind (focused on 20th century japan)through the thematic mirrors of the genre. if he fails, it is because the heavy-hand of this ambititous allegory all but crushes the life out of any type of linear narrative that would enable easy viewing. if he succeeds, it is because of the kinetic dazzle of the action, bolstered by a steady stream of guest stars and striking imagery. worth a chance, especially for samurai fans.

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