You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Dead or Alive

Executive producers, Mitsuru Kurosawa, Tsutomu Tsuchikawa.

Executive producers, Mitsuru Kurosawa, Tsutomu Tsuchikawa.

Directed by Takashi Miike. Screenplay, Ichiro Ryu. Camera (color), Hideo Yamamoto; editor, Taiji Shimamura; music, Kouji Endou; art director, Akira Ishige. Reviewed at Rotterdam Film Festival (No Cherry Blossoms: Visions of Japan), Jan. 31, 2000. Running time: 104 MIN.

With: Riki Takeuchi, Show Aikawa, Renji Ishibashi, Hitoshi Ozawa, Shingo Turumi, Kaoru Sugita, Dankan, Hirotaro Honda, Susumu Terajima, Michisuke Kashiwaya, Mizuho Kouga, Yoshiyuki Yamaguchi, Kyousuke Yabe, Tomorowo Taguchi, Ren Oshugi.

Prolific Japanese shockmeister Takashi Miike — whose “Audition” was the head-turning standout of three films by the director presented in Rotterdam — delivers an adrenaline-charged, anarchic thriller with more flash than finesse in “Dead or Alive.” Bookended by a dizzying opening reel of hyperspeed action and a truly bizarre conclusion that veers unexpectedly into fantasy territory, the film’s undisciplined midsection is a disappointingly pedestrian cops-vs.-yakuza tale that adds little to the well-trodden genre it’s supposedly subverting. Given the cult appeal of this kind of ultraviolence, specialized video sales may follow.

Impressively cut opening burns through almost an entire narrative of killings in Tokyo’s crime-infested Shinjuku quarter, where yakuza gangsters, Chinese Mafia and corrupt cops vie for supremacy. Central conflict, however, is between ruthless mobster Ryuichi (Riki Takeuchi) and Jojima (Show Aikawa), a cop drawn into criminal fraternization to finance an operation on his daughter. Laced with scenes of incidental cruelty and perversion, the buildup to their (literally) apocalyptic showdown is only intermittently coherent. Visuals, courtesy of “Hana-bi” d.p. Hideo Yamamoto, are slick and arresting and the energized soundtrack keeps things ticking throughout.

Dead or Alive


Production: A Daiei Co./Toei Video Co. production. (International sales: Tokuma Intl., Tokyo.) Produced by Katsumi Ono, Makoto Okada, Toshiki Kimura.

More Film

  • Fan Bingbing

    Chinese Celebrities Pay $1.7 Billion in Back Taxes Following Fan Bingbing Scandal

    Chinese film and TV stars have paid some $1.7 billion (RMB11.7 billion) of additional taxes, following the mid-2018 scandal surrounding actress Fan Bingbing. The figure was announced Tuesday by China’s State Tax Administration. Chinese authorities launched a probe into the taxation affairs of the entertainment sector in October. Companies and individuals were asked to examine [...]

  • Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo, Marco Graf

    Film News Roundup: AMC, Regal to Leave 'Roma' Out of Best Picture Showcases

    In today’s film news roundup, “Roma” will not be in the best picture showcases at AMC and Regal, “Jimi Hendrix: Electric Church” gets a release and SAG-AFTRA’s David White has a new appointment. ‘ROMA’ SPURNED AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas are leaving Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” out of their upcoming annual showings of the contenders for [...]

  • First Look at SAG Awards' Cuban

    First Look at SAG Awards' Cuban-Inspired After-Party (EXCLUSIVE)

    Celebrities at this year’s SAG Awards won’t have to go far for some tropical fun. Sunday’s annual post-show gala, hosted by People magazine for the 23rd year, is set to feature a Cuban-themed party space adjacent to the Shrine Auditorium. “We’re kind of going back to more of a thematic element. I have some close [...]

  • Paul DavidsonVariety Big Data Summit Presented

    Listen: The Orchard's Paul Davidson on Surviving Sundance Bidding Wars

    Hollywood heads to Park City, Utah this week in the hopes of finding the next big Sundance Film Festival breakout. Paul Davidson, executive vice president of film and television at The Orchard, plans to be in the thick of it. In today’s edition of Variety‘s “Strictly Business” podcast, Davidson opens up about The Orchard’s strategy [...]

  • Young Tony Soprano in 'Sopranos' Movie:

    James Gandolfini's Son Michael Gandolfini Cast as Tony Soprano in 'Sopranos' Movie

    Michael Gandolfini, son of the late James Gandolfini, will play the young Tony Soprano in “The Many Saints of Newark,” the  prequel movie to the television series “The Sopranos.” “It’s a profound honor to continue my dad’s legacy while stepping into the shoes of a young Tony Soprano,” Gandolfini said. “I’m thrilled that I am [...]

  • Bradley Cooper A Star Is Born

    The Message of the Oscar Nominations: You'd Better Have a Social Message

    Each year at the Left Coast crack of dawn, when the Oscar nominations are announced, there’s generally at least one major nomination many pundits were predicting that fails to materialize. When that happens, entertainment media tends to rise up as one and say the s-word: snub. In truth, it’s not usually a snub; it’s just [...]

  • Elton John and Mark Ronson

    Elton John to 'Shallow' Songwriter Mark Ronson: 'You're Going to Win the Oscar'

    Elton John is willing to bet that Mark Ronson will win the Oscar for Best Original Song for “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born.” The nominations were announced this morning. The legendary performer spoke to Ronson on the latest episode of his radio show “Elton John’s Rocket Hour” on Apple Music’s Beats 1.  “You’re having a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content