Two films which are doing the rounds at the moment, Gozu by Ichi The Killer director Takashi Miike, and Casshern by first-time director Kazuaki Kiriya, have everything I love in movies, psychopathic gangsters, vertigo-inducing special effects, and that staple of John Waters, David Lynch, and every second film out of Hong Kong, cross-dressing.
“Gozu” begins like a typical yakuza film, with stock characters that include a big boss and his sleazy underlings. However, the mood quickly turns horrific when senior gangster Ozaki is revealed to be psychotic. Declaring that a chihuahua is in actuality a “yakuza attack dog,” he smashes the tiny pet into a restaurant window before stomping on it for good measure. When Ozaki’s underling, Minami, is charged with killing his demented boss and then loses the corpse, the film takes a surreal, David Lynch-esque turn. Cross-dressing waiters, dysfunctional siblings who operate a motel and the titular horror are introduced, as is a beautiful woman who claims to be the supposedly dead man. The lower-level gangster is torn between his loyalty to the gang, his relationship with the boss and his attraction to Ozaki’s curvy new body. The scenario is mind-boggling, and Miike handles it with a dry and sick sense of humor.
Casshern is part of the unique Japanese manga tradition of future dystopia of classics like Akira, the uneven but occasionally sublime Evangelion, and possilby my all-time favourite movie, Bladerunner. Just watch the trailer.