Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Director: Takashi Miike
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House
The final film in Takashi Miike?s ?Black Society Trilogy? finds the darkness of racial bigotry in the heart of Japanese society and bureaucracy. Three boys of mixed race seek to escape from Japan, but their search brings t... more »
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"I kinda want to eat ice cream."
J. COSBY | SF, CA | 06/14/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Alright, I guess I'll take first crack at this. To be honest, I haven't viewed either "Shinjuku Triad Society" or "Rainy Dog" in about a year and a half. "Ley Lines" completes the Triad Society Trilogy, and I watched it last night. Very good movie.
"ley lines" - alignments of ancient landmarks, beacons, and holy places (churches, stone circles, cairns, etc.) stretching across the landscape at various intervals, believed to be remnants of prehistoric trade routes. Forming topographical "straight lines," Alfred Watkins - whom "re-discovered" ley lines in 1921 - went further to link them to the winged messenger Hermes: the Greek god of communication and boundaries, and the guide to travellers on unknown paths. Years later, their importance would be interpreted as lines of "cosmic energy" on Earth, and suspected to be a link to UFO sightings.
The "guide to travellers on unknown paths" aspect is what chiefly concerns the title.
Miike Takashi is very often labeled an exploitation director, and no true fan of his films could really argue this point. C'mon, you know it's not ALL about the art of the grotesque. However, the man breaks some legitmate bulk when he wants to. Cases in point are "The Happiness Of Katakuris" "Bird People In China" and (IMHO) "Dead Or Alive 2: Birds". Anyway. We all know all his films aren't flawless, in fact, I was rather unimpressed with "The Boys From Paradise". Furthermore, I grow more curious of his m.o. when he crosses genres, such as with "Ley Lines". A deft blend of street crime and unexpected drama.
Two brothers and their foreign friend are having a hard time finding a niche to fall into within Tokyo's drug (glue) racket. From the beginnning of the film, they seek escape from the island but are denied passport authorization because of probationary status. Whilst trying to secure safe passage away from a dangerous underworld boss with a severe deprived-childhood fixation, they cross paths with a whore from Shanghai when her upstairs cavorting brings dirt from the ceiling down into their food.
She robs the three guys, ditches them, but befriends and joins them after her brutish pimp (complete with Raasta hat) subjects her to a rather nasty customer. This motley crew thus manages to locate a Desert Eagle and pull rush-heists to secure the fee for off-shore passage to Brazil, but unfortunately steal from the wrong gangster: their former boss. Will they rendezvous with the fishing boat in time for swift leave to sunnier shores?
Without giving away the ending, that's pretty much the meat of the story. Simple, if you think about it. Just as the presentation of this film is simple, direct and for the most part stationary. "Ley Lines" is a great example of what Miike is capable of - with his trademark take-it-at-face-value handling of hurried sex; violent criminal bosses; and stark, unstable action sequences that genuinely surprise.
And when the film does slow down... it actually stops a couple of times, such as a meditative moment between boy and girl at an abandoned train station that takes on a lyrical poignancy which reflects the emotion of the errand the little brother took off on. It is during scenes and shots like these that you must remind yourself that Miike is a Japanese director, in addition to being an exploitation director. He is extremely capable of being lyrical, poignant, and meditative. And he's good at it.
Fortunately, for those of you who are more superficial in judging such things, the opening and ending scenes are the most cohesive and subtle examples of where "Ley Lines" has come and gone. In terms of story arc, they are strong bookends. But Miike will never be able to best "Visitor Q", which has the absolute *best* story he has presented thus far. (Don't look at me like that.)
One thing: it seemed the photography in the film was slightly too dark, but it may have been the VHS dub off a DVD that made that effect.
Engaging and - to my surprise - rather moving.
4.5 stars. Recommended.
P.S. Miike, take off your sunglasses, would you?"