Monday, August 23, 2004


Every year the UGC cinema chain runs their Asia Extreme film season which gives me the chance to see what I feel are some of the best Japanese/Korean/Chinese talent in action. The films are usually offbeat, intense, full of action, but an extremely welcome change to the usual dross that Hollywood dishes out. Hollywood has re-made many of these films under their own guise to sell to the west, but they more often than not end up as poor imitations. Need I say The Ring, best not.

Anyway, this year's film season has well and truly kicked off with an excellent offering from Japan, called GOZU (cert. 18) by Mike Takashi (also Dir. AUDITION - fantastic!!). This weird yet wonderfully bizarre film follows Minami - a innocent brother in a yakuza crew, as he struggles to dispose of Ozaki - his delusional power hungry brother, on the orders of their spoon-loving gang boss Azamawari, who thinks Ozaki is out to overthrow him. Its a kind of road trip movie with a twist and, I think, something maybe William S Burroughs might come up with. (think Naked Lunch, Fear & Loathing, Deadringers etc).

To start with it all seems quite normal, even boringly so with long shots of driving and no dialogue and not a great deal happening, but this lulls you into a false sense of normalcy. Things start to get wierd when Ozaki's "dead" body disappears from the car whilst Minami is taking a leak. He decides to enrol the help of a local yakuza crew in finding out what happened. Lactacting landladies, transvestite waiters, a trained dog assassin, the resident nutters at the cafe, an Amerika-jin who speaks real bad japanese, and a cow's head, are all ingredients in a very enjoyable (sublime to ridiculous), off-the-wall masterpiece of Japanese cinema. If you want a fun, mind expanding night and are into this kinda thing (which I am) then I thoroughly recommend it.
8 out of 10
Best followed by Sashimi

Next film in season:
TALE OF TWO SISTERS Directed by Kim Ji-woon - Korean.
(Opens August 27th in Cardiff)

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