cast: Toru Minegishi, Riki Takeuchi, Shosuke Tanihara, and Marie Jinno
director: Takashi Miike
98 minutes (18) 1996 widescreen ratio 16:9
Eastern Cult Cinema DVD Region 2 retail
reviewed by Debbie Moon
Growing up in a yakuza family is a dangerous business. Riki Fudoh is merely a child when his brother offends the big bosses – and in atonement, their father offers up his eldest son’s severed head. Riki sets his mind on revenge, and by the time he’s a teenager, he’s a local gang boss himself. But Riki’s gang are all children – alienated and emotionless, drifting through a world driven by lust, violence and cruelty, grabbing what they can from the wreckage. Soon daddy is planning to sacrifice his remaining son to save himself – but this time, tradition and family loyalty have gone out of the window, and it won’t be so easy…
If that ‘New Generation’ suffix is bringing to mind Patrick Stewart and Starfleet, forget it. With nympho-lesbian schoolgirls and bloodbath shooting matches adorning every scene – and the most alarming variation on the ping-pong ball trick you’re likely to see in a mainstream movie – the Enterprise it ain’t. Takashi Miike’s lunatic sprawl of teen wish-fulfilment is perhaps best viewed as a Japanese Clockwork Orange, but without Burgess’ social message.
This really is not a movie for the easily offended. But, if you can wade through the blood and the sexual shock tactics, there are some interesting ideas. In this nightmare society, tradition means nothing; children have rejected the docile, dutiful role society has prescribed for them, but all they have to replace it with is numb sex and messy vengeance on teachers and parents.
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Ultimately, the generation gap theme gets slightly lost among a rush of late arriving characters, and unexplored ideas about yakuza bosses plotting a war against the US. It’s also hard to emotionally identify with the stony-faced Riki, or his jaded followers. In the end, it’s the subtle shocks that really work – the schoolboy assassins, the degradation of a teenager working nights in a strip club, the strutting 18-year-old with the power of life and death over the whole district.
There’s plenty of raw energy in this film, and it will certainly linger in your mind – though you may not want all of it to do so – but a little more focus on and empathy with these abused misfits would have made it a more interesting, and more disturbing, experience.
DVD extras: biographies, filmographies, a stills gallery, and trailers.