Directed by Takashi Miike
Produced by Naoya Narita & Yoishiyuki Morioka
Screenplay by Toshihiko Matsuo & Toshiyuki Morioka
Music by Atsushi Okuno
Cast: Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Seiichi Tanabe, Saori Sekino, Bob Suzuki, Mickey Curtis, Daisuke Iijima & Atsushi Okuno

1998/107 mins/Color/2.0 Dolby Digital
1.85:1/Japanese/Japan/PAL Region 2

Review from the Asian Film Network DVD

Young Chuji Yonashiro (Ikeuchi) was abandoned by his mother, he was told that his African-American father was killed in Vietnam... that's what is told to the kid of a prostitute mother who can't accept the fact that her husband left her. Now in his early 20s, Chuji is a bartender at a blues club owned by long ago Japan's answer to Elvis, Mickey Curtis. He loves the play the harmonica and occasionaly sells drugs in the streets.

One night after coming to the aid of a Japanese girl name Tokiko (Saori Sekino) who was bullied by two Americans, Chuji meets with a young gangster who works for the Hanamura group, Kenji. Kenji is bleeding badly and tries to hide from the rival gang, the Okada, who are the ones Chuji is working for. Still Chuji saves him and the three goes to his place where Tokiko takes care of Kenji's knife wound thanks to her skill as a part-time veterinarian. We soon discover that Kenji is an homosexual (hey, its a Takashi Miike film after all!) but he's an outcast and doesn't want the others to know about it. Soon the relationship between the three grows stronger.

Kenji wants to become the leader of his gang... so he sleeps with the boss' wife, even though he's gay, that way he will have access to the will of Hanamura which he plans on making some changes. The only "friend" Kenji has is Kaneko who secretaly have on crush on him. As for Chuji, he becomes part of the band of the club, Tokiko moves in with him, he finds his father is alive... life finally seems to be worth living. Still knowing Miike's way of handling things, in the end this won't be a fun ride.

Before being involved in the world of cinema, Miike worked in a blues club which was very similar the one in BLUES HARP. Music is a important part of the film but it is mainly about friendship and life. Its interesting to note that the opening of BLUES HARP surely inspired Miike for DEAD OR ALIVE which he would make a year later. But most importantly along with the magnificent THE BIRD PEOPLE IN CHINA, this film shows us another side of Miike's masterful direction of something completely different that what he is most known for. BLUES HARP has become one of my favorite film from the wild Japanese director, there is some very poignant moments This is a very human film that show the genius of Takashi Miike as a filmmaker.

The Asian Film Network DVD features a nice transfer even though the colors seems a little washed out and soft from time to time. There is hardly any sign of compression, no artifacts and it is correctly presented at 1.85:1 but not anamorphic. The 2.0 Dolby Digital track is clear and really comes to life during the musical performances and few action scenes of the film, otherwise it is a very quiet film. There is easy to read optional English and Dutch subtitles. The film is separated in 12 chapters, comes with a nice reversible English/Dutch booklet, a reversible cover which you can easily read thanks to the transparent keep case which itself comes in a cardbox. The only extras are trailers for BLUES HARP, JUNK, UNLUCKY MONKEY, SCORE, FULL METAL YAKUZA, GANGSTER and HEAT AFTER DARK.





This Film Features:

Review by Kim Dubuisson. All Right Reserved. 2004. ©