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Movie Review: Gozu

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I’m not a very big fan of people who don’t appreciate the genius of Takashi Miike. In fact, if you stopped me on the street to verbally express your utter distaste for the man’s work, I may be inclined to violently pummel you about the head and neck until a very creamy steak sauce begins oozing profusely from your tattered nostrils. As a special service to your bereaved loved ones, I will thoughtfully drop a postcard in the mail detailing the whereabouts of your hideously battered corpse. As long as they don’t mind searching Tokyo storm drains for your remains, I doubt they’ll have much difficulty locating it.

But, I digress.

Miike’s surreal 2003 effort Gozu is a tough nut to crack, even for someone as dedicated to all things Takashi as I am. Attempting to completely wrap your tender young brain around this freakish material is likely to cause plenty of unsightly mental stretch marks. So do take special care when allowing this Lynchian beast to lurch menacingly across your television screen.

In fact, it might be in your best interest to accept everything at face value, since I seriously doubt Miike has buried some bizarre message within the inky black bowels of this truly warped Japanese masterpiece. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. Seriously.

Gozu starts out innocently enough, focusing mainly on an up-and-coming yakuza named Minami (Hideki Sone) and his mission to deliver crazed loose cannon Ozaki (Sho Aikawa) to a specialized waste management yard in some far corner of the Japanese countryside. During an unexpected encounter with what Ozaki perceives to be a compact car specially designed for the elimination of the yakuza, our hero is forced to administer what most therapists would define as “tough love,” a decision which ultimately claims the life of his best friend/mentor.

Or does it?

A short pit stop at a local diner results in Ozaki’s eventual disappearance from the back seat of Minami’s ultra spiffy convertible. Did someone spirit away the corpse when our hero was chowing down on some fine chicken custard, or is something a bit more sinister going down in this unusual little town?

So begins Minami’s descent into a nightmarish world filled with milky breasts, bizarre sexual reconfiguration, obsessive weather enthusiasts, and a flabby guy sporting a drooling cow’s head. I’m sure there’s a puzzle to be solved while viewing this highly original cinematic mind rape, but I’ll be damned if I know what it is.

While I’d like to think that I have a few tasty clues as to what, exactly, transpired over the course of these befuddling two hours, accurately conveying my half-baked theories may prove to be an impossible task. There’s certainly a lot going on behind the scenes of Miike and screenwriter Sakichi Sato’s (Ichi The Killer) creepy little world, most of which is completely lost on yours truly. I may be a little slow on the uptake, dear readers, but at least I’m secure enough to admit it.

Metaphorically stuffing this flick into a pretty little box with a bright shiny label is definitely a challenge for those who enjoy such things. The best way I know to describe the content of this picture to someone completely unfamiliar with Miike’s work would be to declare it a sci-fi gangster epic, with bizarre psycho-sexual undertones and plenty of unnerving imagery.

And speaking of icky visuals, no matter how many times Takashi gleefully thrusts a juicy lactating breast into my flabbergasted maw, I’ll simply never get used to it. I’m not kidding. I can handle a lot of disgusting crap, but this one always makes me uncomfortable. Yeesh.

To help ease us gently into this foaming cup of high-grade nonsense, we have the insanely talented Hideki Sone (Yakuza Demon) and the always enjoyable Sho Aikawa (Dead or Alive, Tokyo Zombie) as our slightly warped tour guides. Aikawa is in top form as Ozaki, delivering an off-kilter performance that ranks among his best work. The man it seems, can do no wrong.

Sone, meanwhile, keeps our feet planted firmly in what passes for reality in this twisted universe, even when things get entirely out of hand. The supporting cast is also razor sharp and pitch perfect, many of whom have appeared in Miike’s other demented delicacies.

Part Twin Peaks, part Cronenberg body horror, and part sketch comedy, Gozu is a true one-of-a-kind motion picture experience, which is something that simply cannot be said for the majority of movies I’ve watched recently. From the opening yakuza attack dog showdown to the jaw-dropping vaginal finale, you’d be very hard pressed to find anything remotely resembling this celluloid monstrosity anywhere in your local neighborhood video store.

Miike, bending genres like cheap dollar store licorice, gently toys with your misshapen head before effectively splitting it open and visually ejaculating all over that blistered meat wad you call a brain. Besides the vastly superior Audition, Gozu is easily the auteur’s most mature endeavor thus far.

If you can overlook the leaky boobies, of course.

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  • DCJ

    I just watched the movie b/c my girlfriend has been raving about it and I’m not really sure what I just watched! Your review pretty much sums up my bewilderment.