"For a Miike movie, Kikoku is surprisingly tame."
AKA: Yakuza Demon
Director: Takashi Miike
Producer: Toshiaki Nakazawa, Jyunichi Matsushita
Cast: Riki Takeuchi, Ryosuke Miki, Yoko Natsuki, Mikio Oosawa, Goro Ohashi, Tetsuro Tamba (Tetsuro Tanba)
Running Time: 100 min.
Plot: In order to protect his boss, Seiji arranges to have him arrested and put in jail just before a serious war breaks out with a rival gang. Their rivals mock the boss for hiding out in jail, but Seiji fights the rivals with all the fury of a demon.
Availability: This title is available at HKflix.com
EQUINOX21'S REVIEW: Though Miike's Kikoku is a direct-to-video, action/Yakuza movie, don't let that negatively affect your decision on whether or not to see it. It was still very entertaining and was filmed as though it were getting a regular theatrical release.
Riki Takeuchi is one of three members of the Muto Family, an extremely small Yakuza group. He begins by turning in his boss, so that he'll be in prison for a couple years while a war brews, thus keeping him safe. After his boss is safely tucked away, he goes on a rampage and takes it upon himself to declare war on a rival family to the one he works with (the Date Family, even though he's in the Muto Family, the two work together). It's interesting to see how all the bloodshed and death can be caused by one loose-cannon sparking anger on both sides.
For a Miike movie, Kikoku is surprisingly tame. It plays out as a typical action film, not as a typical taboo-touching, necrophilia-loving Miike film. That's not to say there isn't a high body count, it's just that once people are dead, they're treated with the respect a dead person would typically command (and they don't have their every corpsified orifice violated sexually). It feels more like the action scenes in Dead or Alive than Ichi the Killer. Interestingly enough, there was an alternate ending that was filmed (though not included in the DVD that I got) that ended with Riki Takeuchi pulling an energy ball out of his chest in the same way he did in DOA. When he throws it, instead of seeing the world being consumed by it from space, you see the explosion fizzle out and fade. Though this is not in the least bit how it ends in the official ending. I really enjoyed Kikoku, and would recommend it to any Yakuza, Miike or Riki Takeuchi fan.
EQUINOX21'S RATING: 8/10