So another frantic and absurd film from Japanese master, Takashi Miike. Dead or Alive: Final is the third and final instalment of the Dead or Alive trilogy. To me it was a combination of drama, action and down right ludicrousness.
The film follows the two main characters from the first two movies, but this time it's set in the future, the year 2346. Japan (or it might be China) is under totalitarian control and the population is forced to take a drug to control pregnancy. Those who do not take the drug are arrested. The two main characters, as in the second film, are again completely different characters. One is the chief police officer, fighting to arrest those who disobey the drug intake, and the other character is a "replicant", a type of robot built to fight and kill during the "Old Times" but now is peaceful and coolheaded.
The replicant ends up siding with the rebels against the birth control pills and so comes head to head with his adversary character, the chief police officer. The chief begins to question the system as his superior (who seems the control more than the law) brings the pain to those who oppose, with no restraint.
There were many heartfelt and emotional moments that gave the movie depth, especially with the replicant and the little boy. Then there are the action scenes that are very reminiscent of The Matrix, which came out 3 years previous. The action scenes however do come across a bit cliché and the budget kind of shows. Also these scenes are very short, not drawn out and glamorised like Hollywood varieties.
The "twists" aren't too shocking but definitely add to the plot. The ending is classic Miike, just stupid. Leaves you with your jaw on the floor, muttering WTF under your breath, and then shaking your fist in utter confusion. Apparently there are Buddhist and Taoist themes that permeate all three films. I didn't really pick up on them during watching but it does kind of make the movies more comprehensible.
The idea of reincarnation with the two characters, although different in every film, are always drawn together and destined to battle. Also the idea of fate, a chosen path. And finally the concept of everything being cyclic, things happening repetitively, over and over again. The two characters always meeting, always becoming adversaries, and always battling. Also, in all the films, the line between good and evil is always blurred similar to the yin-yan idea, good will always have evil as well as evil having good.
Okay, so sound wise it was good, not awesome. There were a few whooshes used for comic effect and of course to aid in enhancing the fight scenes. In terms of sync sound editing and atmosphere, I found flaws but only really detectable with headphones. Again I find this is to do with time restraints. Miike releases at least two movies a year! Something has to give.
Visual effects were good but nothing to tell your Mum about. Music was interesting. I am always surprised at the choices Miike makes. There was a lot of free/experimental jazz (lots of sax) which kind of created a 50s noir-ish atmosphere. I love how Miike uses silence. He does it so effectively and it really intensifies the emotions.
Overall, I enjoyed the film. The end was outrageous but not abnormal for Miike. He undoubtedly still pushes boundaries in terms of storytelling and genre which I'm always pleased to see. The film was not his greatest, there were moments that I was a bit bored with, but in terms of the Dead or Alive trilogy, it worked well and concluded nicely if not absurdly. I'd give the movie a 6 out of 10.
Directed by Takashi Miike.
Written by Hitoshi Ishikawa, Yoshinobu Kamo, Ichiro Ryu.
Starring Shô Aikawa, Riki Takeuchi, Maria Chen, Richard Chen, Josie Ho, Tony Ho etc.
Language: Japanese, Cantonese, English