Dead Or Alive Trilogy (Dead or Alive, Dead or Alive 2: Birds, Dead or Alive: Final) (2-Disc Special Edition) [Blu-ray]
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Beginning with an explosive, six-minute montage of sex, drugs and violence, and ending with a phallus-headed battle robot taking flight, Takashi Miike's unforgettable Dead or Alive Trilogy features many of the director's most outrageous moments set alongside some of his most dramatically moving scenes. Made between 1999 and 2002, the Dead or Alive films cemented Miike's reputation overseas as one of the most provocative enfants terrible of Japanese cinema, yet also one of its most talented and innovative filmmakers.
In Dead or Alive, tough gangster Ryuichi (Riki Takeuchi) and his ethnically Chinese gang make a play to take over the drug trade in Tokyo's Shinjuku district by massacring the competition. But he meets his match in detective Jojima (Show Aikawa), who will do everything to stop them. Dead or Alive 2: Birds casts Aikawa and Takeuchi together again, but as new characters, a pair of rival yakuza assassins who turn out to be childhood friends; after a botched hit, they flee together to the island where they grew up, and decide to devote their deadly skills to a more humanitarian cause. And in Dead or Alive: Final, Takeuchi and Aikawa are catapulted into a future Yokohama ruled by multilingual gangs and cyborg soldiers, where they once again butt heads in the action-packed and cyberpunk-tinged finale to the trilogy.
Each of them unique in theme and tone, the Dead or Alive films showcase Miike at the peak of his strengths, creating three very distinct movies connected only by their two popular main actors, each film a separate yet superb example of crime drama, character study, and action filmmaking.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing on the films by Kat Ellinger
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Top Customer Reviews
The atmosphere of the movie is also very different from the first DEAD OR ALIVE. A lot less hysterical editings and non-stop action sequences in this film clearly divided in three parts. Between the first and the last part where action movies fans will find back the Takashi Miike they know, the two heroes spend a few days in their native island, remembering their childhood in an orphanage. These sequences are masterfully directed by Miike who confirms here that he's a more than interesting director. Recommended.
Opening with a breathless montage of brutal exposition, DOA (1999) sets the stage immediately for Miike's particular brand of gangster movie. Ryu is an ambitious outsider using his "heroic" status in the underground immigrant community to shoot his way to the top of the Yakuza ladder. Detective Jojima is a distracted family man consumed by his work with a daughter in desperate need of a heart operation. The two men circle the same drain as their paths cross time and again, inevitably concluding with an exaggerated action showdown that has to be seen to be believed!
No one shoots action better than Miike. It's not just the choreographed carnage (John Woo had been doing that for a decade already); it's the improvised unpredictability of it all. The final act of DOA is one elaborate mosh-pit of blood and bullets, a chaotic and often-cartoonish highlight reel than tops nearly everything else in the genre. But there's also an emphasis on emotional connections - even between enemies - that elevates the film beyond its prurient fan base. There's heart behind all the snarling and shades...and Miike brings it to the surface in the sequel.
DOA 2: The Birds (2000) finds both actors inhabiting completely different characters even though their fates are still intertwined. Rival hitmen who reconnect after a job in their hometown, Mizuki and Shuichi are reunited with the third member of their childhood trio who convinces them that their skills are better suited to saving humanity than destroying it. An action-film more by association than execution, Miike fully embraces his softer side here with only a few moments of his usual immature pleas for attention. Instead, we get a latter-day coming-of-age story about two men whose connection to each other proves to be their spiritual salvation.
DOA: Final (2002) wraps up the franchise with a futuristic setting as the actors face-off yet again against a Blade-Runner-style cityscape lorded over by a dictatorial mayor whose policy of forced birth control has inspired a rebel uprising. Sho Aikawa is the replicant with a heart, Riki Takeuchi is the enforcer charged with taking him down. With a myriad of impressive martial arts sequences, DOA: Final offers a nice balance of DTV action and more mature thematic elements. Aikawa brings some pathos to a role that was probably underwritten on the page, making each understated "Ah, so" seem like a gem of meaningful philosophy. But for all the bizarre corners Miike uncovers in his apocalyptic playground, the movie never quite coalesces into anything more than a re-hash of American ideas...one thing most of the director's films could never be accused of doing.
Arrow's Dead or Alive Trilogy is a great companion piece to their earlier Black Society set and comes with a good bit of supplementary material. There are numerous archive Making Ofs, interviews and trailers. But the good stuff comes in the form of brand-new interviews with stars Riki Takeuchi and Show Aikawa along with a couple of (all-too-brief) comments from Miike himself. Producer / Screenwriter Toshiki Kimura provides the most comprehensive information during a 45-minute sit down that also covers the Black Society films. And Miike biographer Tom Mes contributes a new audio commentary for the first film in the series. Presentation-wise, all three films look pretty remarkable, even DOA: Final which was sourced from SD elements.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
While I liked Dead or Alive, I liked its sequel even more; where the first one seemed to me to be all setup that led simply to the...Read more
takashi miike is one of my all time favorite directors, his films...Read more
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