Greatest ending to any movie EVER. EVER. Seriously, I'm still in shock after having witnessed it. Wow!
Well, the opening ain't that shabby either, but the ending... Wowzers. Nothing can compete.
Anyway, Takashi Miike is well known for his bizarre theatrical presentations. Whether it be Ichi the Killer, Audition or (especially) The Happiness of the Katakuris, Takashi has learned to put story second and style and lunacy first. Well, honestly I'm sure he more often than not says "Fuck style" too and just runs with the freakish images and tones.
Now, I'm actually going to contradict myself a bit here, but bear with me... Dead or Alive is actually a very straight forward yakuza movie. Yeah, throughout the whole thing we have little tastes of Takashi's warped thinking coming into play (examples of which are the guy in the bird costume getting shot to shit with the rest of a doomed mob birthday party, and the entirety of the crazy but cool opening 5 minutes), but the whole thing is pretty much just a gritty "dirty cops versus dirtier yakuza" flick. But, it's totally the ending that makes you realize that yes, this is a 100% Takashi Miike mindfuck movie. I truly did not see that ending coming. I don't know how anybody could have. Even after me warning you over and over again you will still shit your pants when you see how things end up. I rewound the last 5 minutes 3 times in a row I was so unsure of what just happened. Then I laughed. I laughed so damn hard that I almost fainted. I couldn't catch my breath at all just thinking about the pure beauty of such a unique ending. The last scene of the movie just kept escalating. I was in awe at how anybody could have put together such a fantastic and utterly perfect finish on what was up until that point an average to almost-great feature. My hat's off to you, Mr. Takashi Miike. You are most definitely a directing GOD.
Okay, my nose is far enough up Takashi's ass now, so let me cover the rest of the movie. As I stated earlier, the opening 5 minutes of Dead or Alive were just an explosion of visual coolness. The credits are set up music video style (with fast paced, quick editing, and in-your-face visuals), and they had me completely hooked from the moment that naked hooker took a swan dive into the middle of the crowded street. Then there was the guy doing a line of coke the length of a basketball court (see title graphic at the top), and my favorite part, some fat fuck who just after stuffing his face with gallons of noodles got a shotgun blast into his back and through his stomach, spilling forth all of the ramen he just scarffed like soggy candy out of an obese piñata. Oh man, that image will really stick with you!
The basic plot, as I followed it, goes a little something like this: Two crime syndicates in Shinjuku are trying to make peace, but a renegade group of punks with Chinese ancestors is trying to beat them both into the ground, while a crooked cop with a daughter who needs an expensive operation is trying to break all the hostilities up while making a quick buck on the side. Typical Japanese mob movie plot. There are a few twists and turns throughout, but because Takashi telegraphs you everything as you watch you pretty much know what's going to happen minutes before the characters do. Seriously, all everyone who watches one of Takashi's movies ever wants to see is the "shocking" over-the-top moments that make you twist in your seat and contort your face like your St. Bernard just let loose a whopper smelling of ripe Puppy Chow right next to you, but you don't want to say anything because it might hurt his feelings and you know that he could rip your throat out in a millisecond if he ever got the blood-urge. I'll give you a taste of some of the over-the-top moments in DoA just to put you at ease and let you know that Takashi didn't slide on any of his patented grossness due to laziness or anything. But I won't tell you the specifics of the disturbings so that you can still be surprised and shocked when you see them in action.
I mean, if these examples (along with the knowledge that the ending will rock your ass for you just like you were that gay dude getting some back-door action in the opening before the geyser erupted from his neck) don't make you run out and buy or rent Dead or Alive right now... Then you suck and probably think that Yentl is the greatest movie ever made... Christ, you assholes made me mention a Streisand movie on my site. I hope you burn for it.
I had to cover my eyes for all but 3 minutes of this movie, and I honestly wish I kept them covered even then. This movie was nothing but a Charles Manson wet dream... All of the death, destruction and dismay. Very unnerving. Look at me! I'm actually shaking after having to sit through that piece of exploitative doggy poo! Whoever wrote this thing should be shot... But just not violently, cause then that would make me sound as bad as they are... And I'm not.
Oh my sweet baby Jeebus! The ending to this movie just made me crap my pants! Even better than that ending to that one flick where that guy and chick were naked and doing it...Ummm, well just pick a movie like that and this is better! Holy lordy! If I were to try and explain the end of this great movie to you without you watching it first, you'd think I was crazy! But I'm not so fuck off! Oh man, I have to see that thing again pronto!