If you want a more experimental and serious side of Miike, this film comes recommended. The film has its share of weird moments, but all the weirdness does seem to serve a higher, more artistic goal.
You do have to be open to Miike's disturbing sense of humor and forgiving for its technical flaws, but once that is covered Visitor Q is one of the most hilariously funny films out there.
Yakuza Apocalypse is the kind of Miike I adore. The film looks good, sounds good, is stacked with crazy ideas and even weirder characters and dares to cross the line of common sense more than once.
Don't expect a typical horror/mystery flick (despite many claims of Lynch-like scenes), Gozu is a superb comedy meant for people who like their slice of cinema a little different.
Needless to say, this turns Izo into a pretty tough experience. As the minutes pass and the bodies pile up, the film starts to weigh on its audience.
There's enough madness here to fill 3 or 4 separate films.
Ninja Kids!!! is the perfect example of demented Japanese kids entertainment that's weird enough to appeal to adults, at least those with some memories of their lost childhood.
The Great Yokai War was Miike's first venture into big budget cinema aimed at a younger audience.
The good stuff
A lesser known Miike, but that doesn't mean it's less fun. One of his last Yakuza-themed films, but don't expect anything too serious. The film is loosely based on the Yakuza game franchise and is a hoot from start to finish. Action, crime, comedy, a few typical Miike moments. Not his best work, but still worth a look.
The film never slacks and even gives the viewer a nice look into the whole gang structure in between the fights, making it a little more than just another butt-kicking action flick.
Part drama, part subdued revenge, which a big finger pointing at the passive attitude of many instances and people in this film, the film impresses until the very end.
In the West, Miike is often seen as this crazy, over-the-top guy, but that's partly because films like Sabu were never promoted much on our shores. Miike has a softer side and once you start to dig a bit deeper into his oeuvre, you'll see he's had a pretty varied output from the very beginning.
Sabu is a film about two good friends (Eiji and Sabu) who work together in a store. When Eiji just disappears one day, Sabu struggles with the loss of his friend, and he decides to find out what happened to him. His journey brings him to Ishikawa, a prison island where Eiji ended up.
There are a few darker/harsher scenes here, but overall the film has a softer, more poetic tone. The cinematography is calm and polished, performances are great across the board and there are a few interesting twists that keep the story intriguing. Not one of Miike's most exuberant films, but solid proof that he's capable of more than just craziness.
I'm not a big Fukasaku fan, so it's no surprise I liked Miike's version a lot better. It's a film that seems to fit nicely into Miike's Yakuza oeuvre, but halfway through it takes a bit of a turn and it becomes a more personal and emotionally charged descent into hell. Somewhat of a first for Miike.
The first half of the film sports a pretty typical Yakuza setup. There's a lot of people to introduce and quite some connections to lay bare. Once that's out of the way though (the dentist appointment is the big turning point), it's Goro Kishitani's moment to shine, as he starts his merciless crusade.
It's a twist not everyone is going to appreciate, not in the least because Kishitani's character is absolutely intolerable. It's almost impossible to root for him, but it just makes his journey that more impressive. The first half's familiar territory, the second half a certifiable kick in the gut. A fine Miike.
A great way to end a totally bonkers trilogy. Aikawa and Takeuchi return put an end to their endless fighting, this time in a futuristic version of Hong Kong. There are some great action scenes, some solid dramatic interludes and a couple of vintage Miike moments. Fans of the series won't be disappointed, others do best to watch part one and two first.
It doesn't ruin a film like The City of Lost Souls, but it does take away part of the appeal. There's still plenty of fun to be had with this film though.
Dead or Alive 2: Birds is an important step in Miike's progression as a director. It's a well-rounded film, one that works as a drama as well as a crime flick.
As the Gods Will is a typical Miike flick in the sense that it's pretty much pointless to compare it to other films out there.
Zebraman 2 is not all that easy to recommend. Depending on what you expect or demand from a sequel, it's either a missed opportunity or a definite improvement over the first film.
Miike adaptation of the famous manga/anime franchise. For a Miike film pretty slick and commercial, for a commercial film pretty outragous and out there. JoJo is a fun, creative and original superhero film, the kind that Marvel and DC seem incapable of making.
Starts where the first one left off. More crazy Miike antics wrapped up as a Yakuza comedy. It's not his most insane work, but there's some seriously random stuff in there that's sure to turn some heads. Extremely entertaining from start to finish, might as well make it into a full-blown trilogy.
Miike does musical meets comedy meets claymation, it's no surprise then that the result is extremely amusing. While in fact a remake of a South-Korean film, Miike's style is so unique that it's hardly worth comparing both films. It's not one of Miike's finest films, but definitely worth seeking out when you're in the mood for something different.
The mash-up between samurai and western universes isn't exactly new, but leave it to Miike to turn it into something completely unique. Apart from the Japanese actors struggling with the English dialogue and a less than stellar cameo from Tarantino, this a vintage Miike ride that delights from start to finish.
That said, there is still plenty to enjoy here. It seems that with each new film Miike raises the bar on production level. For Love's Sake looks absolutely stunning, from start to finish.
Crows Zero II will probably appeal to the people who liked the first film and can bear a second, almost identical, serving.
Ace Attorney is a Miike blockbuster. The weirdness is kept to a minimum, but the entertainment value is high and the film definitely has its moments of brilliance.
One of the films that established Miike among the more serious film fans in the West. Audition is a film split in two distinct parts. A rather dim and lifeless first hour that lulls the audience asleep, setting them up for a crazier and more outrageous second half. It's a simple trick, but it sure is effective.
Aoyama is ready for a new relationship, seven years after his wife died. A friend invites him to a film audition to look for prospects. There he meets Asami, a young ballet dancer hoping to make it big. Aoyama is smitten by Asami and decides to ask her out on a date. Asami isn't as sweet as she looks though.
With every revision, the first hour gets a bit more tiresome to sit through, but at least the payoff of the second half makes a big difference. It's really not as crazy or over-the-top as some of Miike's other films, but the contrast does its job. Solid performances, some great horror scenes and a sprawling finale make this a worthy Miike.
Slightly disappointing, especially considering all the hype. The film feels a little tepid and too streamlined for a Miike film. There isn't enough craziness, there is too much focus on plot and it's just a little monotone. It's not a bad film really, but within Miike's oeuvre it is quickly eclipsed by much better films.
Miike doing a more restrained film. 2018 has been a quiet year for him, with just a single release on the tables. There's still some weirdness of course, but it's the blend of science and fantasy rather than the characters and events that stand out here. Well-made, entertaining and amusing, but not a Miike classic.
My expectations for Blade of the Immortal weren't as big as for other recent Miike projects. The hyped up Miikes are usually a bit tamer (especially nowadays) and his samurai films rarely end up among my favorites (Izo being the notable exception). I was still looking forward to watching it though, Miike is after all one of my personal favorites.
Blade of the Immortal isn't a bad film, but it's not a film that screams Miike. No weirdness, no crazy ideas, no what-the-fuck moments. It's a film that could've been directed by just about anyone really, except that's a bit more violent that your average samurai flick. And even that was a little exaggerated.
There's a high enough body count, but it's just regular hack & slash action, with people falling down rather quickly. It doesn't get much crazier than a hacked off limb here and there. Again, I can't really fault the film too much, it looks nice enough and even though it's quite long it doesn't drag, but a straight-forward Miike is simply a waste of potential, no matter how good it is.
A film that seems to have slipped by without making too much of a fuzz, which is a bit weird considering it's one of the crazier Miike's of the past decade. It's not an easy sell, I grant you that. At its core it's a sci-fi film, though I doubt it will appeal to sci-fi enthusiasts. Terra Formars is a film for the real Miike fan.
Think of it as Power Rangers on Mars, with big, cockroach-like creatures threatening the existence of humankind. An expedition comprised of humans with special powers is sent to protect our planet from these creatures. If that sounds weird or doesn't make it any sense, just remember that you're watching a Miike film.
The CG is a bit flaky, but the design are pretty hilarious. The bad guy is badass and even though the morphing stuff can get a little childish, the special powers are at least are quite original. It's a daft film that loses a bit of steam around the halfway mark, but overall there's a lot of fun to be had with this one.
Not the crazy Miike, not the commercial Miike. Over Your Dead Body was made by the solid, more serious Miike. A film that doesn't rely on craziness, wild ideas, over-the-top horror or action. Instead, it's a pretty classic setup that follows a typical structure and shows Miike can also handle simple but quality filmmaking.
While I did like the film a lot, I do have to say it feels like wasted potential when Miike does one of these films. Mostly because there are plenty of other directors who could've made something very similar, while nobody is able to do Miike. Especially with a Perfect Blue-like story he could've done so much more, if only he'd approached the film from a different angle.
But the intrigue is solid, some light horror moments make it a bit creepier, the sets look nice and the cinematography is on point. The only thing that bothered me was that the pacing was a little sluggish, even so the film was tense enough to keep me glued to my seat. Not the best Miike, but a very solid and entertaining film nonetheless.
A more straight-forward police flick from Miike, in the line of The Negotiator. That means a team of police investigators have about two hours to crack a case, tracking down a mean and twisted killer (played by Fujiwara - not really the most obvious cast, but he does a surprisingly solid job).
There's none of Miike's usual (or at least, what most Western fans thinks of as usual) weirdness here, instead it's a pretty slick but simple genre film that goes through the motions with just the right amount of flair. The only real surprise was that the meaningful body count was quite a bit higher than usually the case.
Miike 's experience shines through when he's doing simpler films like these, as Shield of Straw appears quite effortless while breezing through its two-hour runtime. Fine performances, decent cinematography, a solid build up and a neat finale make this a very pleasant and easy watch. The best kind of filler you can ask for.
Takashi Miike returns ... once again. There really is no stopping the man, and though not every film is a masterpiece, even his relatively flawed ones can be more than entertaining. Aku No Kyoten is one of Miike's more mainstream efforts, a film that bears the unmistakable stamp of Miike, only in a slightly watered-down and more acceptable fashion.
Aku No Kyoten bares some resemblance to Nakashima's Kokuhaku, especially when comparing the setup of both films. Seiji is a teacher with an impeccable moral, always ready to help his students with their more intimate problems. He vows to rid the school of all nasty business, but secretly the man has an agenda of his own. One that is revealed during a sprawling 45 minute finale.
The first hour is a bit tame though. There are some quirky characters, but compared to other Miike films they aren't all that interesting. The biggest flaw is no doubt the casting of Hideaki Ito (who plays Seiji), an actor who lacks the charisma and flair to play the character he is supposed to be. With him present some of the better moments of the film miss their target. A real shame, because Miike goes pretty wild during the final 45 minutes. Nothing he hasn't done before, but some of the principal characters go down with surprising ease, something I'm sure not everyone will appreciate. Miike fans will rejoice when the film makes its way to a solid climax though.
After a slow start, Aku No Kyoten delivers the goods, even when its main actor lacks the skills to impress the audience. By then it's just a case of too little, too late. It's still a pretty great flick though, but when watching a Miike film I expect a little extra and that's clearly missing here.
Miike's remake of Kobayashi's Harakiri. I wasn't a big fan of that one to be honest, so I was curious to see where Miike would take this film. Turns out he would simply stick close to the original, the biggest difference for me was the more contemporary execution, which had a big impact on the overall experience.
Performances and technical qualities are a lot better compared to the original. The score is nice, the cinematography is on point and Ichikawa is an impressive lead. The story is more or less the same, sadly Miike can't keep up the tension all the way through, the middle part in particular is a little too slow.
Not quite sure what or if the 3D effect added anything to this remake, personally I can't imagine it made a big difference (it's not really the kind of film for that either). I prefer the crazier Miike films, still it's impressive to see his range. While not spectacular or extremely memorable, Death of a Samurai is a stylish, well-made film.
Miike makes films, regardless of target audiences, regardless of his own reputation. There is nothing he won't do, and the more he tries the more my belief grows that there's literally no genre or niche he can't tackle. Yatterman is a film for younger audiences, but with some typical Miike winks that make all the difference.
I'm not familiar with the Yatterman franchise, but I got some serious Pokemon/Team Rocket flashbacks while watching this film. It's really aimed at younger kids, with its very colorful sets and props, over-the-top characters and silly plot, but that doesn't stop Miike from taking it a little further whenever he sees an opportunity (the scenes between the robot and the dog stick out).
The CG is a bit too simplistic, while the style doesn't call for realistic CG I felt a little extra polish would've raised the overall quality. It's also quite long considering how little plot there is and if you're looking for something age-appropriate (and you're over 20) than this isn't going to go over well, but damn it's so silly, fun and entertaining that I didn't mind at all.
A slightly disappointing Miike. Not because it's a bad film, but because the potential was there to make something more out of it. It's one of those plots that could've turned into one of the all-time Miike greats, but it lacks the touch of the most inspired Miike to make it really stand out among the many other films in his oeuvre.
The story revolves a set of twins, one of which is a hardworking student, the other an aimless loafer. They get mixed up in a scientific discovery that is bound to rip apart the fabric of our reality. Underneath it all lies a simpler romantic plot where one of the twins is trying to woo the girl who made the discovery.
The film is roughly divided into two parts. The first hour is mostly there to set up the story, the second hour brings the action and excitement. For once though, I prefer the slower first part, as the latter lacks the outlandish details that are so typical for Miike. It's definitely not a bad film, the film grabbed my attention from start to finish, but it just didn't feel fully realized.
One of Miike's final DTV releases. A sequel to The Man in White (released in the same year), which I remember liking a little better (although I'll be honest, I'm mostly going by my own ratings here, I don't remember that much from the first film). Not too surprising, because this is pretty basic Miike stuff.
Part 2 is also a full-blown Yakuza film. The usual themes of honor and revenge are abundantly present, you won't miss out on the usual Yakuza shouting, gun action, finger clipping and whatnot either. Miike is more than capable to make these types of films work and that's exactly what he does, without putting in excessive effort.
The film looks okay, but it's nothing special. From time to time Miike plays around with the cinematography and soundtrack to try out some new things, but overall it's a little too sloppy to leave a big impression. The actors do a decent job, the plot is never boring (unless you hate the usual Yakuza intrigue) and the pacing is on point. Nothing too spectacular, just a solid Miike Yakuza film.
Worthy but flawed
A very early, somewhat lackluster Miike film. Maeda and Takeuchi make a fine couple and the comedy is fun and light-hearted, but the poor presentation and the total lack of vintage Miike moments make this a film that is for completists and hardcore fans of the director. It's not a terrible film, but it doesn't stand out at all, especially not in Miike's oeuvre.
A lot of incomprehensible English dialogue makes this film much harder to appreciate than necessary. Far from Miike's best work and there is quite a bit of pointless filler, on the other hand the film does feature pretty decent action scenes and some small hints of the craziness that would make him famous. For fans only.
Very cheap, lazy and lifeless sequel. It's another one of those uncharacteristically tame, early Miike films that feels more like a quick directing exercise rather than an actual film. There's some basic Yakuza drama and a pretty violent finale, but that's hardly enough to win over anyone but the most die-hard genre fans. Avoid unless you've seen all the Miike there is to see.