Based on the Japanese comic book by Hitoshi Tanimura, Takashi Miike's "FUDOH The New Generation" (aka. Gokudo sengokushi: Fudo) is his very first film to ever make it to U.S. shores and it presets the expectations for his other projects. This wildly visceral, eccentric, ultra-violent, silly, tacky is unbelievably fun to watch and made such an impact when I saw it for the first time many years ago. Miike abandons all expectations as to how a Japanese film should be and ventures way beyond the impression of what a Yakuza film should be.
Riki Fudoh (Shosuke Tanihara) is a young man whose appearance is misleading. A highly cultured model high school student on the surface, but underneath he has become a vicious, cold-hearted killer. Riki witnessed his older brother get beheaded by his father in order to prevent a gang war from breaking out. Successor to the Fudoh family, Riki devises a plan to destroy the old generation of the criminal organization, and to take control with his fellow classmates. But his father discovers that Riki is behind the past hits on the Yakuza bosses and now young Riki is the hunted…
"Fudoh the New Generation" is enjoyable trashy fun--silly, full of unrealistic goofs and as with most of Miike's projects during this time, floats around bad taste, over-the-top fun and pure brilliance. There are several scenes that doesn't make sense but for some reason I had no problem buying into the odd material; a supposed "blown up" big bruiser reappears alive, there's a poisoned coffee that causes blood to spray, a vaginal dart gun, a sexy, hermaphrodite school girl and a sexy English teacher who wears an ultra-skimpy, mega-short outfit. Take all these elements and combine it with gallons of arterial spraying blood, a metal shoe, a lot of gunfire and brutal violence and what you'll get is "brilliantly" played, gross fun!
This is a Miike project, so expect brutal violence to be the film's selling point--it also doesn't hurt when he throws in sex and nudity into the mix; which is oddly toned down. The hermaphrodite school girl and the teacher sex scene (between Marie Jinno and Miho Nomoto) was mildly erotic, tame and mostly just implied--a fact may not exactly excite those looking for pervy kicks. Most of the film's action is exaggerated and "manga-inspired" with the tone taken from the Japanese comic book. However, Miike balances this out with an insanely bleak tone, simple cinematography, and an almost realistic protagonist in Riki Fudoh. There is also some commentary as to how humans can be the most violent and insufferable creatures, since even wolves never kill their own. The film is structured quite well, and even though some scenes were grotesquely unrealistic, the film maintains its wild, visceral and moody pace.
The film's best aces come from its cast of oddly, bizarre if interesting characters. Shouke Tanihara plays an unbelievably realistic "Riki Fudoh" as a high school student bent on revenge and the elimination of the old generation of Yakuza bosses. Tanihara is just unnervingly convincing as a cold and calculating young man. He delivers his lines with convincing fervor that made such a disquieting impact. Riki Takeuchi has very limited screen time as the rival gang boss, Nohma; but the actor still fills the screen with his own brand of wicked charisma. Seductively arousing Marie Jinno plays the substitute school teacher, Jun Minori who also has a dark past; I loved her portrayal as the mysterious femme fatale and she steals the show when she wears the skimpy outfits and definitely when she's in the nude. Takeshi Caesar plays Riki's older half-brother, Gondo Akihiro and fulfills the unsettling violent nature of his character; he beats up a chef for making a wrong kind of kimchi. Riki's band of students are made up by two school girls (Touka and Mika, played by Tamaki Kenmochi and Miho Nomoto respectively), Aizone ( the big guy on steroids, and a group of kids are an odd mix of innocence and cold emotion--these kids are outcasts and finds solace only among themselves. The film does pretty much lean toward its characters to deliver its emotions, and Miike does manage to avoid the film from becoming too comic bookish.
Whether you like Miike or not, you have to admire his versatility and the freedom he exercises in his films. The man can indeed direct and can effectively pull off a wild blending of genres such as in "Ichi the Killer", "Gozu" and "Dead or Alive". The only complaint I have about the film is that it ended too soon, with the real showdown just about to begin. Most of his films are unrated so he can do whatever he wants. I suppose one wouldn't be hard-pressed to see this film as a major commentary by Miike as to the younger generation disregarding the older one. Then again, we do shape the "children of the future" don't we? With this in mind, the older Fudoh shaped the younger Riki Fudoh--show callousness and cold emotion, and it will be returned to you in kind.
"Fudoh the New Generation" delivers one heck of an "avant-garde" of a movie experience.
Highly Recommended!! [4+ Stars]
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