If you have ever seen a film directed by Japanese auteur Miike Takashi before then it probably won’t surprise you to hear that Gozu is pretty odd. Odder indeed than Audition, Ichi The Killer or even Visitor Q, which is the closest comparison to this Yakuza masterwork.
When you hear the story it sounds normal enough – a Yakuza is thought to have lost his edge (we learn this when he savagely kills a dog as it is apparently a killer trained to attack Yakuza) and his brother is sent to take him on a journey and kill him, delivering his body to a special place where a team will dispose of him. Yet, the brother is relieved when the intended victim is killed in a road accident on the way, yet this being Takashi Miike things start to go awry pretty quick, the major thing being that when leaving the corpse in the car (hesitantly placing sunglasses on him in one of those totally black humour moments that appear throughout), the brother returns to find him gone.
And so begins a mysterious journey on a surreal map that seems to have been drawn by David Lynch and let’s just say things get odder than you expect – a mysterious girl, a strange hotel, a man with pigments on only half his face, a riddle to get help, a slurping cow head, a strange supply of school milk, a transvestite café server, sex troubles and a wardrobe full of Yakuza skins. To say anymore would perhaps soften the nightmarish way in which each of these is introduced and then discarded, not all are essential to the plot but all give you a sick feeling in your stomach and until it happens you will have no idea where the story will end up or indeed how much blood will be spilled.
Saying Miike Takashi movies are not for everyone is like saying chilli peppers are a little hot, but if you have enjoyed (is that the right word for what we are dealing with?) past works then Gozu is another great chapter in the careers of one the world’s finest directors. Even if that slurping cow head is guaranteed to give you nightmares…