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Gozu (2003)

Cast: Hideki Sone, Sho Aikawa, Kimika Yoshino, more...
Director: Takashi Miike
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Pathfinder Home Ent.
Genre: Foreign, Horror, Japan, Yakuza, Asian Horror
Running Time: 129 min.
Languages: Japanese
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

At a yakuza gathering, Ozaki (Shô Aikawa of the Dead or Alive films) unsettles the boss (Renji Ishibashi) when he claims a small dog outside the restaurant is a "yakuza attack dog" and viciously smashes it to death. Minami (Hideki Sone) is assigned to drive the apparently unstable Ozaki to a remote location and kill him. Minami considers Ozaki a "brother," and feels ambivalent about this assignment. After several odd incidents on the road, Minami ends up in the small town of Nagoya, where things get even odder. Unable to get a signal on his cellular, Minami goes into a restaurant to use the phone, and Ozaki, whom he thought to be unconscious, promptly vanishes. When Minami finally contacts the boss, he's told to get in touch with the local Shiroyama crew. Minami doesn't know his way around, and the weird locals seem more interested in animated, interminable arguments about the weather than in helping him find his way. Eventually he runs into Nose (Shôhei Hino), who seems relatively sane, and offers to help him find Ozaki. Minami spends the night at an inn, where the innkeeper (Keiko Tomita) possesses a strange lactating power (which she's eager to demonstrate), and mistreats her mentally challenged employee (Harumi Sone). After another frustrating day searching for Ozaki, during which he encounters the decrepit Shiroyama crew, Minami finds a note from his "brother," and travels to the town dump to meet him, only to find Ozaki (now played by Kimika Yoshino) in a transformed state. Gozu was directed by the prolific Takashi Miike from a script by Sakichi Satô, who also wrote the script for Miike's Ichi the Killer. ~ Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

What you're getting into... by comababy February 2, 2005 - 1:54 PM PST
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
Comparisons with Lynch are definitely justified in this surreal take on the Japanese Yakuza genre. Miike plays with the genre to take on ideas of manhood, loyalty, and gender relations. For example: there's a bit of a boys club & extended boyhood issue in Japan - esp. w/Yakuza! - that gets turned on its ear with the transformation and, uhm, "birth" of Ozaki.

I've only seen a couple other Miike films - Happiness of the Katakuris and Audition. Gozu is the first film of his that I saw. This one's probably the most absurd of the three (Happiness running a close second), but it's also got the most depth. If you're a fan of Lynch, you'll love the awkward, circular, small town smalltalk, mystery, and deadpan/absurd humour.

I disagree with the reviewer below who seemed to indicate that Miike didn't spend enough time crafting this film for it to make sense. Though the images are often absurd, and open to interpretation, they're not random. They're meant to get you thinking about a few themes that are developed throughout the film.

Enjoyably confounding by champong January 27, 2005 - 6:13 PM PST
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
Miike Takashi is one of my favorites directors these days. His work is often critisized as uneven which is understandable considering his prodigious output. All the same, I find almost all his films worth viewing. Even more importantly, I respect the way he continually confounds expectations and serves up new delights and horrors as he churns out more films.

Gozu is one of the strongest films I have seen from him recently. The film defies easy categorization. It initially starts out as a yakuza film, even though the main character is apparently an insane yakuza. As the film develops into a mystery about a missing body, perhaps animate or not, it becomes clear that it takes place in a universe where David Lynch would be perfectly at home. Narrative threads pull the viewer through the movie, not so much to resolve any of the puzzles, but to lure the viewer into increasingly bizarre confrontations. Overactive mammaries and imbedded ladles figure prominently. To top it all off, it culminates in one of the most visceral and grotesque sex scenes I have seen.

A disturbing and very enjoyable movie!!!!!

Miike delivers another gem by markoff5 December 31, 2004 - 2:20 AM PST
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
I've watched Gozu three times, and after these viewings I can state that I do not have a clear idea of what the film means or how all of the threads connect. That being said, I enjoy Gozu very much and will revisit it many times. Like David Lynch's recent films, the point is not to dissect the picture and try to reassemble it in to a conventional storyline that makes "sense." To me, the overall mood and feelings that are evoked are the point of the viewing experience. Miike has outdone himself in creating a true "horror" film with enduring, haunting images, which is much more unsettling than conventional horror (a CGI monster or a psychopath with an axe.) Anyone interested in Japanese cinema, surrealism, or horror owes it to themselves to see this film.

I would not recommend listening to the commentary. The two critics seemed misinformed from the start, continually referring to Miike as a horror director despite the fact that barely any of his 60+ films could be categorized in that way. They go on to wax philosophically about what would happen if Miike made a Hollywood film with a big budget. (Yes, I bet it is Miike's dream to follow in John Woo's footsteps and come to this country to make a movie as vapid and retarded as Mission Impossible 2.) When the critics identified one of the actor's as Miike himself (it isn't) and started discussing his performance I had to give up. A short essay by Tom Mes (who has done some excellent commentaries on other Miike films) is included on the DVD, and it contains much more useful information than the commentary does. Sorry for the negativity in the review of this remarkable film, but I wanted to save all of you from wasting two hours of your life listening to guys who probably know less about the film and filmaker than you do.

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GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.15)
181 Votes
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Cannes Film Festival & More - 2003
Official Selection, Certain Regards... and more. Here is a bit more information on the films screened at the Cannes. I have attempted to list all the films that were considered for an award as well as any special screenings.
some of the best films

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