The good stuff
Takashi Ishii is a unique force in Japanese cinema. Often focusing on the bizarre and the perverse, Ishii makes films that exist far outside the comfort zone of the normal. By all means his films should come off as cheap shlock, possibly interesting in concept only, but for some obscure reason Ishii has managed to produce a consistent track of high quality output throughout the years.
Figyua na Anata is his latest and pretty much fits the profile. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Video Girl Ai and Koreeda's Air Doll, the film's about a lone loser finding a doll that comes to life. It's actually a pretty popular setup in Japanese manga and anime, only Ishii's vision is a tad more perverse than usually the case. Instead of jolly encounters and fluffy awkwardness, expect dark allies, murdering yakuza and pinku influences.
But it doesn't really stop there. Ishii goes on to create a rather sad tale of loneliness and despair, hidden in a blur of fighting dolls. The film follows a young editor (Kentaro) who loses his job and goes out on a drinking spree. He ends up messing with the wrong people and while fleeing into an abandoned building, happens upon a strange, life-like doll. When his assailants finally catch up with him, the doll comes to life and saves his life. The next morning Kentaro wakes up and takes the doll home, acting as if she's become his girlfriend.
The final 20 minutes border on the absurd, giving Figyua na Anata that extra little boost to make it stand out from similar films. Takashi Ishii is a strange man, his films never really appealed to me that much but upon closer inspection there's a lot of quality hidden under their raunchy exteriors. Well worth a try if you're looking for something different.
One of the few remaining Ishii films I'd yet to see. Salvation is a loose follow up to Ishii's own A Night in Nude, though it seems more of a conceptual series than a film set in the same universe as the first one. You can expect a very similar setup though, and Naoto Takenaka returns as the lead actor, which is always a plus.
Contrary to what the title suggests, there isn't that much nudity here. A Night in Nude seems more interested in crime and thriller elements, though the setting still allows for showing a little skin here and there. In that sense, it's closer to Gonin than it is to Flower and Snake.
Performances are pretty good, the film is very moody and the detective plot is intriguing enough. While the first part is pretty solid, Ishii goes into overdrive the final 30 minutes and delivers a gripping finale that is by far the best I've seen from him. It's a shame the rest wasn't on the same level, otherwise this could've been Ishii's definite masterpiece.
Sequel to Ishii's earlier reboot. If you're familiar with Ishii (or the other films in the series), you'll know what to expect. Rather raunchy and risky material, but delivered with style. The film looks nice, the actors are solid and it's appropriately dark and moody. Some scenes go on too long, but apart from that pretty interesting.
It took me years to see Takashi Ishii's Gonin, and even though I liked it a lot, I never managed to find the time to watch its sequel. Somehow these films have faded from people's memories, and it's hard to say why, as the quality is obviously there. This second one sure didn't disappoint.
When a gang of Yakuza puts the pressure on Masamichi for him being late with his payments, they go a little overboard. They rape his wife, who kills herself not long after. Masamichi wants revenge, and finds help when he runs into a gang of five women who mess up a heist by the same Yakuza gang.
Ishii's direction is on point. The camera work is stylish, the use of color moody, the score is on point and with Ken Ogata in the lead the performances are better than the norm. It's a very atmospheric, slick and edgy crime flick that kept me glued to the screen. Not quite a masterpiece, but it certainly doesn't deserve to be forgotten.
A dark and stylish thriller that is surprisingly low on erotic elements, despite its title and the director's reputation. Takenaka is an excellent lead, the dark and neon-lit interiors add to the atmosphere and the story is a little strange, but entertaining. This early Ishii is worth seeking out, unless you prefer his sleazier output.
Takashi Ishii doing his version of Perfect Blue. It's very direct, way more twisted and quite a bit darker, but that's to be expected. Ishii does a good job elevating what is basically a pretty sleazy and perverted film, but the first hour is a little tough and his experiments with digital aren't always successful. Still worth a try.
Typical 90s Takashi Ishii film. With its roots firmly in the pinku genre, Ishii adds plenty of crime elements and gives the whole a nice polish. The cinematography is remarkable, the plot is interesting enough and the drama has actual impact. It's far from a masterpiece, but very entertaining and much better than you'd expect a film like this to be.
Early Takashi Ishii. Not quite as edgy as his later work, instead it feels more like general repetition for his own Gonin. A young Masatoshi Nagase steals the show, Ishii himself adds to the fun with some well-directed scenes. Pacing and styling could use some work, but overall it's a fine film.
Solid, straight-forward crime flick by Takashi Ishii. Ishii keeps his trademark pinku influences to a minimum and goes for a more direct revenge flick. There are some decent performances and a few tense moments, but it's the moody soundtrack that sets this film apart from its peers. Simple genre film, well executed.