A perfect score and absolutely stunning visuals transport you to a different world, only to let go of you 60 minutes later, comforted and touched by the film's protagonist's struggle.
A blast. Energetic, mysterious, fun and wild, it's one big, entertaining mess. The film looks amazing, sounds great and the actors are all on top of their game. Up there with Ishii's best
With only 55 minutes between start and finish, Electric Dragon 80000V is a quick watch. That said, if you don't appreciate what Ishii is doing here it might still feel like a two hour hell.
Overall Dead End Run is a fun, varied and classy anthology film where Sogo Ishii allows himself to show his more experimental side while leaving room for some softer touches.
A mad mix of drama, fantasy and comedy. Gakuryu Ishii returns with a beautiful film that defies genre conventions and creates a world of its own. It's a handsome tribute to Ren Osugi and another stellar performance for Fumi Nikaido. Riveting cinema.
Ishii truly reinvents himself here and comes with a film that's just as unique as his previous work, only very different in tone.
Those who really want to see the film will be required to be a little adventurous, but fans of Ishii and/or Asano would do good to go through the trouble.
The good stuff
Probably one of his most accessible films, though there is still plenty of wonder and authorship to be admired.
A short but interesting anthology film where Ishii tepidly explores his more introverted self in 4 unrelated shorts. The punk influences are still there, but they flare up in short bursts and never truly climax. The quality is pretty consistent and there are moments of greatness here, but overall it's just a little too short and restrained to be truly impressive.
The Crazy Family
An Ishii short that feels like a prelude to Tsukamoto's Tetsuo. The camera work isn't as manic or crazy as Tsukamoto's early masterpiece, but the soundtrack is absolutely stunning and makes this a tense and riveting experience. If it had been twice the length this could've been a masterpiece, but fans of Japanese cyberpunk cinema should definitely give this a go.
Crazy Thunder Road
Worthy but flawed
Panic in High School
Charge! Hakata Street Gangs
Early Gakuryu/Sogo Ishii film. It feels a bit like a late 60s Wakamatsu feature, only sporting the first signs of the lively punk aesthetic that would come to define Ishii's work. It's nowhere near as impressive or effective as in his later films though, so this is mostly for those interested in Ishii's roots, or for people who think regular Ishii is a bit much.
Two homeless punks get themselves into trouble when they get a hold of a gun and get mixed up in criminal affairs. It doesn't take long before both the police and a local crime syndicate are on their tail, all they can do is run and hope they'll survive their ordeal. It's a pretty barren plot, then again plot has rarely been Ishii's main concern.
The camera work and editing are energetic, though they're nothing compared to later Japanese (cyber)punk films. The actors are mediocre and the soundtrack isn't quite as demanding yet. Ishii's style clearly had some ways to go, but fans will no doubt appreciate the first, tentative steps to what would be the prelude to the comeback of Japanese cinema.
Pure Ishii punk. But also a lot of Einstürzende Neubauten of course. A peculiar project where Ishii takes a location and a band and tries to construct a visual poem with them. At times, it felt a bit too much like a stage performance (only without an audience), but when it becomes more abstract it does show a lot of potential.
Think of it as an Umfeld avant-la-lettre, only with a huge dose of 80s industrial and noize. The problem is that I don't have that much with the latter. The music was a little underwhelming, the vocals were just terrible and the impact wasn't nearly as impressive as it was clearly meant to be.
The location (an abandoned factory) was cool (though a bit predictable) and the industrial vibe comes across pretty well, it's just that it all feels a bit tame by modern standards. I'm sure I would've loved this 30 years ago, for its time it's also a very cool project, but give just me some modern-day industrial techno instead.