Directed by Takashi Miike
Screenplay by Toshiyuki Morioka
Based on the novel by Hitoshi Tanimura
Produced by Yoshinori Chiba & Toshiki Kimura
Music by Tadashi Ishikawa
Cast: Shosuke Tanihama, Riki Takeuchi, Kenji Takano & Marie Jinno

1996/99 mins/Color/Stereo
1.85:1/Japanese with English subtitles/Japan/NTSC Region 1

Website: www.media-blasters.com/

Review of the Tokyo Shock US DVD

Welcome to the delirious hyper-violent world of FUDOH - a live-action manga adaptation from Takashi Miike. I actually saw FUDOH for the first time almost four years ago and knew immediately that Takashi Miike was a director to look out for in the future. Thankfully I've been proved right as Miike has gone on to provide us with some truly unique work, from AUDITION, DEAD OR ALIVE 1-3, VISITOR Q to ICHI THE KILLER.

In FUDOH a young boy, Riki Fudoh, (Shosuke Tanihama), watches, as his father becomes a high-ranking Yakuza boss. Riki's elder brother, Ryu, is also a member of his father's gang. When one of Ryu's drug dealers is killed by hitmen from the rival Yasha clan, Ryu has the hitmen responsible killed. The Nioh family organise and watch over all the Yakuza in the region, they are friendly with the Yasha clan and demand that, in order for their relationship to be maintained, Riki's father must punish his son Ryu. He carries this act out with relish, decapitating Ryu with a samurai sword and showing the head to the Nioh family in a fit of hysterics. Unbeknown to him Riki witnessed the murder.

Ten years later and Riki is a young man at Nasaku Commercial High School, driven by a violent hatred of his father. He is also a successful member of the Yakuza family. He recruits young children from the school as assassins and uses them to wipe out the four council members of the Nioh family. A new student arrives at the school - a giant called Aizome (who killed his own parents). He is recruited by Riki and taken to the gang's hideout, where he sees young children playing football with the severed head of the school's English teacher (who owed money on a drugs deal), plus very young kids armed with knives and guns. Aizome and Riki proceed to the Nioh family's Temple and execute the two twin bosses there. Riki's father soon realises he will be next. He locates Riki's half-brother, Gondo, a former special agent of the Korean army and pays him to destroy Riki's gang. Gondo slaughters Riki's young entourage one by one until he and Riki face one-another.

Bloody shoot-outs, young pre-teen assassins, darts fired from vaginas, hermaphrodite sex - FUDOH has all of that and more! There is also a dark strand of humour, provided by the giant Aizome, (played by Kenji Takano) who frequents massage parlours and throws his enemies through the air like rag dolls. Add to that excellent cinematography by Hideo Yamamoto and top-class acting, with Shosuke Tanihama giving a very calm performance as Riki, plus a great score from Tadashi Ishikawa.

This Region 1 NTSC DVD from Tokyo Shock in the US is completely uncut with burnt in English subtitles, which are easy on the eye. It is presented in 1.85:1 non-anamorphic widescreen. Unfortunately the only extras are three trailers, shown before the film itself, for other Tokyo Shock releases. There are 11 chapter stops, but no menu screen, so you have to use the skip button on your DVD remote to navigate through them. This is actually one of the early releases on the Tokyo Shock label and it shows. Recently the company has taken into account people's complaints about the lack of extras and disappointing picture quality on some of their earlier DVD's and have started to release excellent quality anamorphic DVD's packed with extras.

The picture on this FUDOH DVD is an improvement over the Tokyo Shock VHS release. Sadly, however, there is some noticeable compression artefacting, which recurs in some of the darker scenes and some minor grain. The stereo soundtrack works well with no noise, hiss or distortion, but I found the DVD disappointing due to the lack of effort by Tokyo Shock and the lack of extra material. Hopefully, with the growing popularity of Takashi Miike's work, Tokyo Shock may consider re-releasing FUDOH on a new anamorphic DVD.

FUDOH is a classic. It's also due a release any day now from Artsmagic in the UK. Sadly that version has been cut by 21 seconds by the BBFC so best avoided. If there's one film you should all have in your collection it's FUDOH and this Tokyo Shock DVD, whilst disappointing on many levels, is the best version available with English subtitles.





This Film Features:

Review by Brendan Maltman. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©

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