Friday, July 22, 2016

Film Review: Gozu (2003)

Gozu (Review)
Japan/2003
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Instant
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"It's quirky, it's original, and it's entertaining."

Yakuza enforcer Minami (Hideki Sone) is ordered to drive his colleague, Ozaki (Show Aikawa), to a small town to be assassinated. His plans derail when Ozaki mysteriously disappears...

Gozu is an insane film, so I'll try my best to be brief with the story details. The film begins with Ozaki brutally killing a chihuahua he suspects to be a Yakuza killing dog. So, considering Ozaki's questionable sanity, Minami is ordered to drive his Yakuza brother to a small town so he can be killed. Unfortunately, Ozaki vanishes during a stop and Minami is hurled into a tailspin of madness. Minami tries his best to track his brother, but he always finds himself hindered by the enigmatic residents and the ominous atmosphere of the town. Whether it's an innkeeper who sells her breast milk or visions of a man with a cow head, the man can't seem to catch a break. It leads to a surprising ending, too.


Gozu is a great film. It certainly won't be for everyone due to its surreal and often taboo visuals, but it caught my full attention. If you're only looking on the surface, you may find yourself looking at a portrait of madness. You may even question the filmmakers' sanity. However, I believe the film has a deeper meaning. It's not the deepest film ever made, but it does say something. It's a surreal horror film, sure, but it's also a twisted tale of love. Perhaps I went insane watching this film, but I did see several incredibly interesting layers under the madness. It's not perfect, though. The film feels bloated and the pacing is inconsistent, so some scenes tend to drag on. It has an efficiency problem, I suppose.

Hideki Sone and Show Aikawa were both great in their roles. Many of the performances were quirky, but it never really felt overdone. The cinematography was good, too. The ominous music was also great. There are some outdated effects in here, but there are also some great practical effects. The film was written by Sakichi Sato and directed by Takashi Miike. Sato and Miike worked very well together for this film. Sure, some scenes dragged on and the pacing was occasionally too slow for its own good, but the pair created a very unique, effective, and entertaining experience. Many filmmakers refuse to take chances nowadays, I'm glad to have Miike around to push the boundaries.

Overall, Gozu is a great movie. It's quirky, it's original, and it's entertaining. Be warned, though: it's not a film for everyone. If you don't like to enter 'taboo' territory, then you might not enjoy this film. If you have an open-mind, though, I strongly recommend Gozu.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Violence, blood, nudity, and sex.

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