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Izo (Special Edition)
Special Edition
Actors: Kazuya Nakayama, Kaori Momoi, Ryuhei Matsuda, Ry˘suke Miki, Yűya Uchida
Director: Takashi Miike
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
UR     2005     2hr 8min

We begin in 1865 when the Shogunate is on its last legs but still capable of punishing its enemies. One is Izo (Kazuya Nakayama) an assassin in the service of Hanpeida (Ryosuke Miki) a Tosa lord and Imperial supporter. Aft...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Kazuya Nakayama, Kaori Momoi, Ryuhei Matsuda, Ry˘suke Miki, Yűya Uchida
Director: Takashi Miike
Creators: Nobuyuki Fukazawa, Yasushi Shimamura, Fujio Matsushima, Kazuyoshi Okuyama, Taiz˘ Fukumaki, Shigenori Takechi
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Tokyo Shock
Format: DVD - Color - Dubbed,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 10/11/2005
Original Release Date: 01/01/2004
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2004
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 2hr 8min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
Edition: Special Edition
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English, Japanese, English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

You are a Demon
Daitokuji31 | Black Glass | 01/07/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

The opening of scene of Izo depicts the title character Okada Izo crucified and calmly waiting for his captors to kill him. They soon comply and execute Izo by driving their spears through his body several times. The scene then quickly changes to a chaotic montage in which images of some of the 20th century's most brutal dictators are flashed across the screen, including Stalin, Hitler, Tojo Hideki, and Benito Mussolini. His spirit unable to rest, Izo rises and begins a path of destruction that leaves no one untouched. It matters not if one is old or young, male or female, Izo will kill anyone in his path. The source of his consternation seems to be a group of aristocrats, including Kitano Takeshi and Matsuda Ryuhei who plays the leader, who rule society from the shadows. Fighting the vengeful souls of samurai he killed in the past, a pistol wielding old man with a voice box, a prostitute, a huge black man in the robes of a Buddhist monk, Bob "The Beast" Sapp," makes his way closer to his goal, but as his bad karma accumulates Izo loses his remaining humanity and quickly morphs into a demon.

Yet, who or what is Izo? Supposedly in order for there to be perfection, all the imperfections of the world must be shed of like a second skin and dissipate into nothingness. However, Izo becomes the personification of this nothingness, a being created entirely of bad karma trapped in a Möbius strip in which time and space are both very fragile where he suffers the torment he brought to others.

Some film viewers seem to think that Izo is an overwrought mess with pedantic aspirations that fail miserably. Some think it achieves its goals while many just enjoy the film's high gore factor. I did not know what to think at first. I quickly grew bored at the beginning of the film when it seemed as if it was going to be nothing more than one blood bath after the other, although I did think some of Izo's enemies were quite creative. However, as the film progressed I became a bit more interested in some underlying themes of the film: man made constructions of love, nation, etc. To me one of the most interesting aspects of the film was the "bard," a middle-aged man with a guitar. As those who have read the Tale of Heike know the oral story of how the Heike, Taira fell to the Genji, Minamoto, clan was told by normally blind biwa playing monks in order to appease the souls of the Heike samurai so they would not return as vengeful spirits. While this "bard" might not be serving this same purpose, the songs he sings are quite chilling and the visuals, such as the girls marching while wearing gasmasks, are quite stunning. Is Izo a good film? That is hard to say, but I believe that it offers different conclusions for different viewers. If one is looking for a confusing bloodbath, you'll find it here. If one is looking for deeper philosophical questions in a miasma of blood and guts, you'll find it here as well, or at least it could aid you in finding these questions within your own being.
Takes cinematic bodycount to a whole new level
Wux Iapan | Zurich | 08/03/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"A simple idea: a man is being killed somewhen far in the past but his soul turns into a wandering spirit that is drifting throught it's own inner hell. In my opinion the conclusion could be understood purely psychological: if you hate the world the world will hate you because your hate will be understood and answered the same way, like it or not.

Philosophical in a way, this movie is infinitly uncompromising. Imagine Kill Bill, remove the "Assasin squad" and replace it with all sorts of historical enemies, ranging from samurai spirits to demon killers to demons to Yakuzas to SWAT teams to school kids to female teachers to infernal whores to a wedding banquet to your own mother... the list goes on and there's more blood and guts here than in Ichi the killer, a lot more actually. The gods are dressed like business men, commanding all those historical enemies to stop Izo from crushing them.

Izo hates everything that exists and so does everything that exists hate Izo, but nothing 'really' exists. Izo is a wandering soul that has no soul, he is the "infinite absurdity". This movie is the most consequent version of the classic 'never ending hell' tale. Long after Izo has begun killing everyone standing in his way, he and the audience comes to realize that there is no way, there is no goal, there is only the neverending slaughter and vengeance of everything, hell is repetition with no end, violence leads to more violence. Izo somehow symbolizes the capacity of violence, so it's only logic he can't die. As long as violence comes his way in the guise of his attackers, he continues to exist. Yeah, it's that simple and the formula isn't going to change untill the very end of the movie.

There's hardly a minute without arterial sprays, hardly a character that is not being slaughtered sooner or later, no matter who it is: buddha, lovers, demons, cops, kids... sometimes it's almost funny (the wedding banquet...). I believe there are certain similiarties to Miike's "Graveyard of honor" in which a yakuza is going to battle against the rest of the world. To me, both characters could be understood as an allegory to social behaviour and historical events.

The furthermore sadistic aspect of the movie is that Izo cannot die but is suffering just as much as his victims, violence goes where violence comes from. Sometimes Izo is surrounded by a dozen enemies, he's fighting one toe-to-toe while the others keep stabbing their knives, swords and stuff into Izo's bleeding body that therefore is covered in blood with countless injuries throughout the whole film, every attack is a painful experience for Izo and is being responded with more violence. Repeat that around a thousand times and yeah, that's pretty much what this movie is all about on screen. It's like playing GTA with the "everybody's attacking you"-cheat... It all begins with Izo's execution at the beginning of the movie which has to be one of the goriest and most painful in film history.

If you truly hate somebody and need to release some mental tension, that is the movie for you. It's an endless and pretty mindless killing spree, the dialogues are beautiful, visuals as well, it's Takashi Miike, it's very brutal, and, frankly, very very boring. Sure, every sword battle is skillfully shot as if Miike has never done anything else but this sort of films. Nevertheless, it's for the first time I remember that I was watching the last 20 minutes in spooling speed. I knew these 20 minutes would show nothing else but another 100 (at minimum) sword executions and I was right but didn't want to miss the ending. It's a pretty long movie but it seems even longer reagarding it's repetive nature and background message that should be clear to anyone around 4000 deaths before the final conclusion. At the end, thank god, it all becomes symbolic when Izo is standing on a bizar platform that is part of the 'symbol of neverending infinity', realizing, that for deliverance, there has to be another way to go than hate and vengeance. One could sense a political statement here but regarding the fact that with AUDITITION there was absolutly no social commentary intended by neither the director nor the screen writer, IZO could as well be seen as just another killer freak show for pure sick entertainment."
I am a spirit seeking vengeance
Mackshere | hampered by what's acceptable | 11/18/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Wow, another demented head trip by Miike. I'm not exactly sure what I just watched, but I know it was great.
You've got the fierce warrior Izo, who is brutally murdered and then his soul seeks some closure. Or rest. But his spirit is denied at the gates of both heaven and hell. So the soul wanders aimlessly, trapped within himself, feeling eternally restless and bitter. He then embarks on a ruthless rampage of death, destruction, and mayhem that is visually spectacular.
The plot linear structure is intentionally wavering and sporadic, maybe in an attempt to make you also feel lost. There are some amazing action sequences that reminded me of Matrix, Kill Bill, and Ichi the Killer. With this exploration of life after death comes a strong level of surrealism portrayed, which I thought was imaginative and entertaining. I also loved the showdown between Izo and big Bob Sapp, way too cool.
This film is generous with the blood and the swordplay, but it's abstract notions and problems with continuity might not appeal to many viewers. Oh well, may your soul burn in eternal damnation, haha."
Miike's masterpiece
ac | Indiana | 02/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"It's hard to be familiar with the movies of Takashi Miike. Despite seeing the majority of his films released in America (and even a few that have yet to be released here), it's hard not to feel like I've lost something in translation. I can appreciate the humor, the violence, the plotlines, etc but there are usually parts that confuse me, and his movies typically require repeated watchings. It's not that I'm particularly new to the films he creates or the films of Japanese directors in general ("Tetsuo" creator Tsukamoto is probably my favorite director); the point I'm trying to illustrate is that you have to WANT to appreciate his films. You have to work hard sometimes to get into what he's doing, because he often throws conventional plot points, "hooks" that grab you, and structure out the window. Even his most fairly straightforward films take many detours into the bizarre (see the tank randomly showing up in "Family" or the rocket launcher that comes out on nowhere in at least two of his films!)...

So, it's not surprising that this is one of the lesser-recieved of Miike's works. Using the "hook" of a sword fighting epic initially gets people interested in this film, but seeing no conventional plot or point to what is happening throws people off. This confuses me -- though I definitely didn't grasp everything upon the first viewing of this, I was still instantly amazed at what Miike has set up here: A journey through one man's tortured soul. Even if you don't feel like you understand everything that's happening, you still realize this film is genius -- maybe you just haven't figured out why yet.

Upon repeated viewings, however, I figured out why. As another reviewer mentioned, you have to kind of look in between the lines. This film is powerful, epic, emotional, and even darkly comedic. On the surface, this film is basically just a journey through someone's afterlife. However, beyond that, the film pours on flashy imagery, ultraviolence, and heavy emotion to an almost suffocating degree. In a lot of ways, this film reminds me of "El Topo" -- a movie that is disguised as a genre effort (El Topo being a Western, this being a samurai swordfighting film) that just uses the basic genre outlines and explores topics deeper than have ever been covered in the genre before.

I think those who overlook this film simply were expecting a straightforward swordfighting movie, which this film clearly isn't. It's way better than that, and it's honestly probably the best film to come out in the last decade. Don't write this off after one viewing, it REQUIRES repeated viewings. A masterpiece."