DOA Trilogy: Dead or Alive (1999), Dead or Alive: Birds (2000), Dead or Alive: Final (2002)

UK Arrow Video 2 disc Blu-ray edition

Text written 2021-05-05


The 1999 Dead or Alive was made at a golden point in time, from the height of the Golden Japanese Era of New Wave filmmaking.
Approx. 1997-2003 when wild untamed genius Takashi Miike made the films of his that i like best. He just exploded with unhinged
creativity and made 6-7 films a year and in the year of 1999 he became a Cult Film favourite among filmlovers around the world,
with this one "DOA" and with his 1999 "Audition". I'm also much enamoured by his beautiful and surpringly serene "The Bird
People in China" 1988, but almost every film he made during this burst of unparallelled creativity was great, or at least interesting.

DOA is most famous for it's start and end. With the 5-6 minutes long intro scene with a fireworks of short cuts of bad people in
the Shinjuku District of Tokyo doing bad things to each other as strippers, drugs, killings and rape, and with the even more famous
ending scene with that outrageous final fight between the cop and the gangster. Only from the genius mind of Takashi Miike.

This trilogy of films has two big parts, Show Aikawa and Riki Takeuchi, both known for their mass of lowbudgeted direct to video
gangster movies, and in DOA 1-3 they are deadly enemies in the 1st film, old school buddy killers in the 2nd and enemies at first
but then replicant buddy-killers in the 3rd.

There's a language and ethnical problem for people in DOA, something Miike sometimes touched in his films, where japanese have
a hard time understanding what chinese migrants says, and vice versa. Also, the kids of the migrants don't feel wholly japanese or
chinese, but something in between. Just like Shunji Iwai's Yentown migrants in the 1996 "Swallowtail Butterfly" where some western
guys were born in Japan and only talk japanese and no english and they are not considered to be japanese and nor westerners,
but something in between. Miike's underrated 2000 "The City of Lost Souls" could be his "Swallowtail Butterfly" (i love both).
In the futuristic DOA 3 people talk any language with each other, and everyone seem to get it anyway.

Reversible sleeve

Dead or Alive 1999 Direction: Takashi Miike

There's a violent drug war between Yakuzas, Chinese drug lords and loose cannon gangsters.
A small, but extremely violent, gang of ethnic chinese japanese led by the brutal and evil Ryu (Riki Takeuchi) wants to take
over the drug trade throne and starts to massacre yakuzas as well as chinese triads, and the only crime cops in Tokyo that
are not corrupted or afraid are inspector Jojima (Show Aikawa) and his colleague Inoue (Susumi Terajima).
Everything is leading up to the surprising final between the cop and the killer. A great and uniquely bizarre crime action.

The film presented in widescreen 1.85:1 with japanese audio LPCM stereo and english subtitles, region B.

Dead or Alive: Birds 2000 Direction: Takashi Miike

In the sequel Show Aikawa plays killer Mizuki Okamoto who's just about to hit some gangsters when another hitman is
doing it first, and he's Shuichi Sawada (Riki Takeuchi). Both hitmen then travel to Dago Island and they know each other from
childhood when they were buddies. On the island they meet their third buddy, fisherman Kohei (Kenichi Endo).

Mizuki and Shuichi joins up and start to kill people en masse to earn money to give to charity and vaccinations in Africa.
A comet is heading towards Earth, they grow angel wings, the wife hugs her dead husbands cut-off meter long dick at his
funeral and Mizuki is dressed like a Kappa monster when performing in front of children. A very unusual gangster film it is.
Shinya Tsukamoto plays the unfortunate Magician.

Dead or Alive: Final 2002 Direction: Takashi Miike

The 3rd film in the series takes place in a dystopian future, in Yokohama AD 2346, but the film is shot in Hong Kong with
mostly chinese actors and film crew. A dictator called Mayor Wu/Woo (Richard Chen) forces people to take a mind control
drug and has turned people into replicants using old battle cyborgs from the time before the war, from the Old world.
Police inspector Honda (Riki Takeuchi) leads a task force (with i.a. Maria Chen in it) hunting the replicant Ryo (Show Aikawa)
and Ryo hides with a group of rebels led by June (Josie Ho) and Fong (Terence Yin).

A lowbudget Sci-Fi mix on Blade Runner, Terminator, Robocop and at the end Shinya Tsukamoto's Tetsuo.
The film presented in widescreen 1.85:1 with japanese audio LPCM stereo and english subtitles, region B, with Great Extras,

Extras on Disc 1:

DOA 2 : Original Making Of Featurette (10 minutes), DOA US trailer, DOA japanese theatrical trailer, DOA 2 theatrical
trailer and an audio commentary by Tom Mes made in 2016

Extras on Disc 2:

Toshiki Kimura: Drifting with Miike (2016 interview with producer Kimura; 43 minutes in japanese with english subtitles)
Riki Takeuchi: Deadly Outlaw Riki (2016 interview with actor Riki Takeuchi; 30 minutes in japanese with english subtitles)
Show Aikawa: Cop Killer, Replicant (2016 interview (22 minutes in japanese with english subtitles)
DOA Final: Original Making Of Featurette (11 minutes of Miike at work in Hong Kong), DOA Final: Promotion interviews
(11 minutes), DOA Final: Mystery trailer (animated) and DOA Final theatrical trailer

 

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