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Dead or Alive 1: Hanzaisha

Director(s): Takashi Miike

Theatrical Release: 1999

Cast: Riki Takeuchi, Sho Aikawa, Renji Ishibashi, Hitoshi Ozawa, Hirotaro Honda, Susumu Terajima

Genre(s): Action, Thriller, psychological, gangs/mafia/triad/yakuza, Dean's List

Countries: Japan


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6.5
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Running Time: 104m.

Takashi Miike takes a dime-a-dozen yakuza script and turns it inside out in this high-octane surrealist crime action thriller. The film's first ten minutes is a breathless montage depicting a naked woman clutching a bag of cocaine being thrown off a high-rise, a porcine Chinese gangster devouring bowl after bowl of noodles before getting whacked, a tinsel-wigged stripper in mid-grind, another Chinese gangster having sex with a guy in a pubic bathroom, clowns throwing knives, and the world's longest cocaine line. Welcome to planet Miike one that seems unnervingly like reality but just tweaked enough that the viewer believes almost anything can (and does) happen. What follows is a tale pitting narcotics cop Jojima (Sho Aikawa), who has an ailing daughter and a neglected wife, against Ryuichi (Riki Takeuchi), a Chinese-born gangster sporting a hairstyle that would make Wayne Newton jealous. As Ryuichi tries to muscle in on a big drug haul from Taiwan, those closest to him get killed particularly his whey-faced younger brother and girlfriend (the latter meets a particularly grizzly end at the hands of a sadistic scat-enthusiast yakuza). Likewise, Jojima, who is on Ryuichi's tail, looses his partner, his wife, and his daughter. Soon the two are on the road to a literally cataclysmic confrontation. - Jonathan Crow (allmovie.com)

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Welcome to Shinjuku, city of darkness and corruption. Here rapid-fire shoot-outs and twisted acts of perverse violence provide the backdrop for a vicious war between the Japanese yakuza and the Chinese Triads, and make for one of the most dizzying and spectacular openings ever committed to film.

Ryuichi is a gangster who is driven by a desire for power and the memory of his deprived childhood. His younger brother, Toji, has just returned from studying in the U.S. Between them, they are about to learn some harsh lessons about life on the wrong side of the law. Meanwhile, Detective Jojima finds himself drawn deeper into the world of the yakuza as he continues to make dirty deals he hopes will raise the money to pay for his daughter's life-saving operation.

Uncompromising and fearlessly original, Dead or Alive takes a mind-bending journey into the dark and twisted world of ruthless gangsters, dealers, strippers, and hookers. This is cinema at one thousand miles an hour! (hkflix.com)
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