Shinjuku Triad Society

Year: 1995
 Takeshi Miike
Rating: 6.0

By the time of this film in 1996 - Takashi Miike's thirteenth film and first to be exhibited in theaters - many of Miike's cinematic trademarks were in place. The graphic head pounding violence, the hard-edged sexual perversities, the misogynistic attitudes and violence towards women and the dark corrosive nihilism all playing out in the corrupt unmerciful world of Yakuza and cops. It was a world that Miike was to return to many times as it allowed him to push the boundaries of violence and the fantastic within this sealed off self-contained almost make believe world. Miike's filmmaking has also dramatically improved since his earlier video films - the editing is sharp, the acting creepy but effective and the imagery is powerful. A sense of dread infuses every frame of the film - though Miike sometimes mixes humor into his films, he doesn't here. This is a blow torch to your body.

This is a gut-check from the opening scene of a decapitated head found on the street. Violence doesn't just seethe below the surface, it jumps out at you without any warning - an eyeball ripped out in the flash of a second, a throat bloodily sliced open without a thought. Here sex and violence are interchangeable in Miike's film pallete of extremes - anal rapes and grungy oral sex are on the menu. Shocking the viewer seems as much the point as the plot which is fairly banal and basic.

A group of Taiwanese gangsters are moving in on the more established Japanese Yakuza in the section of Shinjuku and as they are often portrayed these immigrants wanting their share take violence to levels that the Japanese are unprepared for. In the middle of this is one lone cop - Kiriya (Kippei Shîna) - of Chinese heritage who is nearly as venal as the Yakuza are. Corrupt and brutal - he has one male suspect raped by another cop in one of the more what the hell scenes you will see - and the suspect only begins to talk when the cop raping him threatens to stop. Later Kiriya first brutalizes a female suspect with a chair across her face and then later rapes her which she tells him was her first real orgasm. The only decent thing that Kiriya does in the film - which makes him the good guy I guess - is attempt to pry his lawyer brother away from the Taiwanese gang run by the psychopath Wang (played by Tetsuo actor Tomorô Taguchi) who keeps his boy killer sex toy close at hand. Throw in a sub-plot about organ buying and selling as well with little children being the donors.

This is a rough film to get through at times - Miike goes over the edge with such unrelenting unpleasantness. This is the first film in a trilogy of Yakuza films - called the Black Society Trilogy which also has Rainy Dog and Ley Lines. Not for the easily offended or squeamish.