Sunday, November 22, 2009

WTF Japan?!?: Izo

I mentioned in a comment my issue with seeing Takashi Miike films. I mentioned how I have seen very few of his more famous films (i.e. Audition, Visitor Q) and had only seen his more obscure ones (Zebraman, The Happiness of the Katakuris). While I am making steps to fix that, this does lead me to the subject of today's film. On the same DVD that I saw the trailer for Wind & Cloud: The Storm Riders, I saw the trailer for today's film: Izo. It looked really weird, crazy and entertaining. Looking back at it, I wish that I had ignored my morbid curiosity...not that I ever will. I will say that my opinion of this movie may not coincide with everyone's, but it is still my site. If you didn't care about my opinion, then you must have just come for the awesome picture of the ninja I have on my front page. With all that said, let's jump right into...
This film is nearly beyond logical description, but I will do my best. To make it simpler to follow, I will do it in bullet point form.
  • Izo is a famous samurai who has done some unspeakable deed. As such, he wanders around and fights people.
  • He fights two samurais in feudal Japan, only for it to turn into a modern Japanese road.
  • He jumps into a lake, only for the screen to flip and turn into a classroom full of Japanese schoolgirls...who turn into zombies and attack him.
  • While hiding in a cave, he is attacked by two vampires in business suits (vampire lawyers). They stab him repeatedly with small knives, but he pulls a blade out of his ass. Don't ask for more details, please.
  • He runs across a woman who is apparently Mother Earth (but sounds nothing like Whoopi Goldberg) and he...rapes her. Nice, movie.
  • As the film progresses, his outfit gets more ragged and darker. So much so that, when he gets a mask, he looks like a low-rent Batman. Huh?
  • In the one scene that I do like, Izo's normal form is being put on trial in a modern courtroom. Dark Izo breaks in and cuts Nice Izo in half with a sword. Good-bye, time-space continuum, I barely knew ya.
  • Near the finale, Izo runs through a hallway, only to be blocked by...a giant, black Buddhist monk (Bob Sapp, who is a big fighter in Japan for no reason). He cuts him two, but does it like an 'X.' I guess normal dismemberment was just too boring.
I won't spoil the ending for you, although I doubt that my attempts to would really help things. Apparently this is all Izo's battle for his own soul or something. I only know that because I read it online. Between this and Wind & Cloud, my brain was turned into mush for a while. Don't worry- I got better. The End.
Good Lord, is that movie weird! Even if you try to rationalize the concept (everything is a battle for his soul), there are still issues. If he is a feudal Samurai, why is the film going randomly into present day? Does he know about the future? How is he able to picture it so accurately? Maybe if they had done a story like this about a man in the 1950s and had him view the future as full of flying cars, I could accept that. I should mention that this film stars Takeshi Kitano, who is all about bleak movies that make no sense logically. As for Miike, I could see how this is all neat if you deconstruct it into separate scenes. As a whole film though, the parts are so disparate that it makes your brain hurt. Ultimately, my stance is this: I could accept the weird, but not the disturbing. I don't need to see Mother Earth being sexually-violated, movie. Thanks anyways. Do yourself a favor and skip this one in favor of other Miike films. Those are at least crazy, but understandable. Of course, watch this seem incredibly ironic when I finally watch and review Visitor Q.
Next up, I continue the season of giving thanks with another film that I hate. This time, it is a foreign film that starts off great and dies a horrible death. Stay tuned...


  1. Ugh. This is the one my co-worker brought me for this weekend.. Along with Freeze Me, which looks equally barf. Thanks for the advanced warning at least lol..

  2. The way to survive 'Izo' is to NOT try to follow any story and think of it like a music video or something. There are some neat moments in there, just with no easily-visible thread to tie them together.

    God speed, Carl.