Izo

"Bad"

Izo Review


Legendarily outrageous Japanese director Takashi Miike swings for the fences every time. When he connects, with films such as Audition, Visitor Q, and Ichi the Killer, the results are unforgettable, true home runs of wild depravity. When he misses, he misses big. Unfortunately, Izo is one of those epic whiffs.

The hyperproductive Miike (he's helmed an astounding 64 movies in 13 years) loves to push the boundaries of cinematic violence, and in Izo, he also pushes the boundary of time itself, taking his story across three centuries in hopscotch fashion. It all starts with a crucifixion in 1865. Izo (Kazuya Nakayama) is an assassin who is captured, tortured, and killed by soldiers of the Shogun. The problem is that he doesn't really die. Instead, he becomes an avenging ghost of death, traveling through time to spread murder and mayhem wherever he happens to land. He has some serious rage issues.

After a rapid-fire collage of documentary footage of the history of human depravity (Hitler, Stalin, Khmer Rouge, firebombings, firing squads), Izo is off and running, showing up anywhere and everywhere and swinging his samurai sword at anyone who crosses his path. "That hurts," his victims often say as his sword disembowels them. Along the way (which isn't to suggest there's a logical path), Izo runs into various ghosts and demons who recite cryptic nonsense that only pisses him off more. He's also interrupted frequently by a truly terrible folk singer who screeches out long bits of unintelligible narration accompanied by his awful guitar playing. It's like There's Something About Mary, only bad.

Izo takes on bayonet-thrusting World War II-era Japanese soldiers in 1945, a fully armored SWAT team in modern-day Tokyo, groovy Yakuza gangs, and various ghoulies and demons. He chops up an entire wedding party (Miike films that scene upside down), and in perhaps his most transgressive moment, he encounters a group of young families at an abandoned amusement park. Their questions -- Who are you? Why are you so violent? What is your purpose? -- go unanswered. No way, you think, he's not going to hack up all those kids, is he? He is. Blood-soaked toddlers are scattered everywhere by the time the scene ends.

And so it goes. Izo is more of an endurance test than a movie. Even Izo himself runs out of steam. He gets more and more tired, more and more inexpressive (eventually all he can do is scream), and more and more demonic. Like The Highlander (only bad), no matter how often he is stabbed, shot, or pierced with arrows, he can't be killed. He just gets back on his feet and keeps going, leaving us to worry that the movie may never end.

I was going to write that Izo is unwatchable, but that's not really true. There's certainly a lot to see. It's more accurate to say that Izo is incomprehensible, and not only to me but also to the theater full of world cinema Ph.D. candidates and film fanatics who watched with me and found themselves laughing at the absurdity of it all. There maybe some message here about humanity's tendency toward violence and horror and the inevitable repetition of history, but if there is, it's hopelessly lost in mind-numbing gore.

It's funny, though. Soon enough Miike will step up to the plate again, and we'll all race to the theater to watch him swing for the fences one more time. Like Izo, he can't be stopped.

He's so Izo.



Izo

Facts and Figures

Run time: 128 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 21st August 2004

Distributed by: Omuro

Production compaines: KSS, Excellent Film, Izo Partners, Office Kitano

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

IMDB: 6.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: Kazuya Nakayama as Okada Izo, as Ryuuhei Matsuda, as (as 'Bîto' Takeshi)

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

La La Land Movie Review

La La Land Movie Review

After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on...

Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A difficult movie to market, this isn't actually the BFG-style fantasy adventure it looks like....

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...

Advertisement
Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Dramas exploring the nature of death and the true meaning of life are always in...

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

At 80 years old, British filmmaker Ken Loach won his second Cannes Film Festival with...

Why Him? Movie Review

Why Him? Movie Review

Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the...

Passengers Movie Review

Passengers Movie Review

Anchored by the almost ridiculously engaging Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, this sci-fi movie travels...

Neruda Movie Review

Neruda Movie Review

Clever Chilean director Pablo Larrain (who also directed Natalie Portman's Jackie) takes on the Nobel-winning...

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

Narrated by Daisy Ridley (The Force Awakens), this documentary is one of the most gripping...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.