Takashi Miike
2003, Japan, 129 minutes

“Unclassifiable cult figure Takashi Miike’s films invariably have their share of weirdness and perversity, but Gozu arguably outweirds all previous efforts. An insane tale of a young gangster hurled into a mind-bending odyssey of crazed encounters after being ordered to ice the senior partner who once saved his life, this blackly comic yakuza horror movie boasts sexual aberrations, bizarre violence, gallons of bodily fluids onscreen and perhaps the most amazing freak birth scene since vintage David Cronenberg.” —Variety

Originally destined for the Japanese home video market, Miike’s second collaboration with Sakichi Sato, (writer of the global cult sensation Ichi the Killer), is so remarkable that it premiered at Cannes instead of going straight-to-video.To set the record straight, Gozu is not a horror movie. Ignore the tagline on the poster and the Variety review quoted above. Miike is perfectly capable of making horrific movies-his masterpiece Audition is one of the most disturbing films in recent memory-but this is a comedy, so don’t come expecting thrills and chills.

Gozu is a tremendously bizarre, perverse, surrealistic, gender-switching comedy. Imagine Rob Schneider’s The Hot Chick re-imagined by David Lynch on powerful hallucinogens-Freakiest Friday perhaps? And it’s one Miike’s best films (of those I’ve seen-I can’t keep up with any director who makes nine movies a year). But I have a soft spot for pressed yakuza, alternative uses for a soup ladle, minotaurs giving tongue baths and Chihuahua baseball, so you’ll have to judge for yourself.

—Bruce Fletcher