- Miike's baddest bad guy 8/23/2004 12:00:00 AM by kuuzo
This is one movie that needs to be released in the West, it is a hardcore dark violent drama, not the typical cartoony Miike. This is probably one of the better Miike movies I've seen, no bizarre cartoon violence or strange events, a straight up yakuza crime violence extravaganza, and apparently a remake of a 1975 movie of the same name. Definitely better than the sort of dragging Araburu Tamashitachi. The lead character Ishimatsu is played by Kishitani Goro, the bad guy from "Returner". In an interview on the DVD, Miike said he wanted to make a movie about a man who didn't learn to be a Yakuza by becoming a Yakuza, but who was born that way... The main character is BAD, far worse than "Ichi the Killer's" Kakihara. Whereas Kakihara is a sort of good-natured amoral sado-masochist, Ishimatsu is a bad natured insane sociopathic drug addict killer rapist. Lots of corpses in this one, men, women, doesn't matter to Ishimatsu. Even more corpses than Ichi the killer or Dead or Alive, and some real violent and realistic knife kills and handgun assassinations, pipe beatings, and other fun. Not for people who shy away from realistic violence and sadism.
- a gripping, relentlessly bleak tale of Yakuza self-destruction 3/17/2008 12:00:00 AM by Quinoa1984
Takashi Miike has a knack at Yakuza thrillers. Some might not be very good, some might be some odd sorts of deranged masterpieces. But with Graveyard of Honor, I can only imagine how fantastic the original Kinji Fukasaku film from the 70s was if this might possibly be Miike's best "serious" Yakuza movie. This is to say that Miike turns down a somewhat typical level of madcap gore and humor for an approach that is kind of staggering, as though Cassavetes had some input on the screenplay (or Abel Ferrara ala Bad Lieutenant for that matter). It's a solid piece of drama of a man, Rikuo Ishimatsu (in a performance that, within the range, is one of a lifetime from Gor? Kishitani ala young Mifune), who unwittingly becomes apart of a crime family after saving its boss while working as a dishwasher. He serves some time for attempting to kill another gangster, he gets out, the years pass and he gets bitter, and in a fit of panic he bites the hand that feeds him - he shoots his own boss.
From here on it's a path right to hell that Ishimatsu takes. Already one has seen him as a character with some demons he has trouble quelling. He's tough, maybe too tough, and doesn't have much of a sense of humor (which includes around his woman, a timid creature who soon gets into the dank mess that Ishimatsu puts himself into). He also turns into a full-fledged junkie, and burns more bridges than one could ever fathom. What Miike crafts here is something that might not be his most inventive work, but it displays him as someone who has the range to plunge into real bloodshed and tragedy. It's almost the reversal of the cartoonish mayhem of Ichi the Killer - where that you almost were given permission to chuckle at the carnage and excess of violence, in Graveyard of Honor it's grim, ugly, the blood flowing hard and with bodies writhing in total agony. It's a rare instance for the director to present things about as realistic as he'll get, in edgy hand-held and compositions.
But there is some style that Miike puts, appropriately and with an creative sensibility, on the material. The music crooning on and off is like that of New York jazz from the late 50s and early 60s, and I'm almost reminded of some lucid nightmare of a beatnik on junk ala William S. Burroughs and pulp fiction. As the downward spiral continues for this character, even if it starts to seem unlikely that it would go this far (the escape from prison alone, intense for the self-inflicted horror done to himself, is just enough to swallow), we go right down with this character in his oblivion. It's hard to turn away, and there are moments that are gruesome not so much for what's shown, which can be a lot, but the emotional impact. Not to sound pretentious, but I'm almost reminded of some damned Shakespearan king or something, only here it's a sensibility of total unadulterated nihilism that propels Ishimatsu to his horror of an end.
On the surface, it doesn't feel a whole lot different from other Miike Yakuza fare. Yet it's a little maturer, a little more tightly crafted and developed with the characters, and it has the mood of a filmmaker working outside of his reputation as a showman or provocateur. It's a real movie, one of the best in the Yakuza realm.
- Dark, cold and filled up of non-sympathy 4/3/2006 12:00:00 AM by scobbah
Anyone expecting "just another Miike flick" might get very disappointed, as I'd claim this remake, of Kinji Fukasaku's 1975 success, to differ quite much from Miike's other works. There's a lack of comic events here, while the amount of violence is steady and non-compromising straight throughout the movie. While Miike's other works may have a sort of balance between the cold terror of Yakuza violence and fun punchlines, dark and light or whatever you'd like, this piece is leaning way more to the darker side. No one gets away with anything, women and men, they're all facing their dramatic paths down the line.
As I've mentioned above, the piece feels quite different, and at the beginning I thought it may even be bad. However, such a case didn't await me and afterward I thought it was all good. Different, but good. I prefer the other works of Miike, but that didn't disqualify this one to be a good view. Shattering, touching and filled up with non-sympathy. 7/10.
- Great serious Yakuza movie 5/8/2004 12:00:00 AM by antiheroripper
Most of Miike's yakuza movies include alot of humor and over the top gore, in which I love. I was sort of expecting that with this movie and had my hopes up high, but I was introduced to a new style of Yakuza movie.
Ishimatsu is a dishwasher at a resturaunt who saves the life of a Yakuza boss when a assassin was ordered to kill him at Ishimatsu's resturaunt. Ishimatsu is let into the family at a high rank and but he isn't what was expected. He starts p***ing people off in the family by starting a little gang-war, and after theres a settlment between the two gangs, they are all trying to get rid of Ishimatsu. He also gets pretty wound up with heroin.
Alot of character develoupment in this movie. The movie has a low tone but glossy color that sets and really good atmosphere with a slow jazz soundtrack.
The blood in this movie isnt very abundent but the violence is strong a realistic. Not very many bloodsprays like in most of Miike's movies, but you dont really look for that because IMHO this movie is so stylish without the need of strong blood or gore.
It doesnt seem like to many people like this movie but when I got done watching this movie I felt really good like I have never felt after a movie.
- Allegory on "Japan's imperfection" 3/10/2009 12:00:00 AM by LooyCyphr
If Japan is "perfect", how does "imperfection" look like? The protagonist in this movie embodies exactly that. Which takes away a lot of the "Scarface"-like thriller elements. There is a story about a guy stepping up in a mafia environment, but his stoic anti-will, the fact he hurts EVERYone - helpers, supporters, lovers and foes - is meant to be allegorically political.
It's stated somewhere and in fact, there's some few scenes that appear very illogical. Not so, if you watch the movies "the right way".
Movie is calm, depressing, melancholic, bloody painful, sometimes crazy (in one scene he shoots at everyone: police, bypassers etc., then going "SORRY, OUTTA AMMO!" and delivers himself).
Good, disturbing, mature Miike-movie. Not as cartoonish as most of his films.