×

Gozu

Unclassifiable cult figure Takashi Miike's films invariably have their share of weirdness and perversity, but "Gozu" arguably outweirds all previous efforts in the Japanese director's eclectic canon. This blackly comic yakuza horror movie boasts bizarre violence and perhaps the most amazing freak birth scene since David Cronenberg.

With:
Minami - Hideki Sone Ozaki - Sho Aikawa Female Ozaki - Kimika Yoshino Nose - Shohei Hino Innkeeper - Keiko Tomita Innkeeper's Brother - Harumi Sone Boss - Ryo Ishibashi

Unclassifiable cult figure Takashi Miike’s films invariably have their share of weirdness and perversity, but “Gozu” arguably outweirds all previous efforts in the prolific Japanese director’s eclectic canon. 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. Late-night fest dates and specialty video release seem certain.

Once-valued yakuza soldier Ozaki (Sho Aikawa) has been losing his mind, a fact confirmed for his cronies when he brutally pulps a harmless Chihuahua, convinced it’s a rival band’s trained attack dog. Ozaki’s boss (Ryo Ishibashi) orders Minami (Hideki Sone) to eliminate the loose cannon and dispose of him at the Nagoya yakuza dump.

But as Minami agonizes over killing the man he regards as a brother, an accident appears to do the job for him. Things get complicated when the body disappears, and the boss orders Minami to track down Ozaki to ensure that he’s dead.

Navigating unfamiliar territory, Minami looks for clues with the help of a roadside eccentric with a half-painted face (Shohei Hino). He goes first to a cafe with a cross-dressing waiter, then to a mysterious inn run by middle-aged siblings (Keiko Tomita and producer Harumi Sone), one of whom bottles her unstoppable flow of breast milk.

Learning that Ozaki also stayed there the previous night, Minami checks in again but instead is visited during his sleep by Gozu, a figure with the head of a cow and the body of a man. Awaking in the morning, he finds a note from Ozaki saying to meet him at the dump; but when Minami arrives, he finds a strange and sexy young woman (Kimika Yoshino), who insists she’s really his “brother.”

What any of this means is something probably only Miike can explain. But despite being overlong and lumbered with some clunky broad humor, the sharply lensed film remains compelling, driven by the curiosity of seeing what the director will throw in next.

The most entertaining stretch follows the appearance of the female Ozaki, with events taking a psychosexual turn as she engages Minami in some scary locked coitus then gives birth — through pink-lace Givenchy crotchless knickers, no less — to her full-grown male counterpart. If that scene isn’t enough to satisfy peculiar palates, the electrocution of a mobster via a strategically implanted soup ladle should do it.

Popular on Variety

Gozu

Directors Fortnight / Japan

Production: A Klock Work Co./Rakuei-sha production. Produced by Harumi Sone, Kana Koido. Directed by Takashi Miike. Screenplay, Sakichi Soto.

Crew: Camera (color), Kazunari Tanaka; editor, Yasushi Shimamura; music, Koji Endo; production designer, Akira Ishige; sound (DTS Stereo), Hitoshi Tsurumaki. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Directors Fortnight), May 17, 2003. Running time: 130 MIN.

With: Minami - Hideki Sone Ozaki - Sho Aikawa Female Ozaki - Kimika Yoshino Nose - Shohei Hino Innkeeper - Keiko Tomita Innkeeper's Brother - Harumi Sone Boss - Ryo Ishibashi

More Film

  • "Jade Dynasty" in front at the

    China Box Office: 'Jade Dynasty' in Front Ahead of Mixed Competition

    With “Jade Dynasty” in front, Chinese-made action and Asian animation films led the way at the China box office over the past weekend. Although a few American titles are in play, they’ve failed to attract a crowd.  Chinese action fantasy “Jade Dynasty” led the weekend box office in its debut with $38.1 million, figures from [...]

  • The Painted Bird

    Venice Competition Film 'The Painted Bird' to Be Czech Entry in Oscar Race

    Václav Marhoul’s “The Painted Bird,” which world premiered at the Venice Film Festival in the main competition and also played at Toronto Film Festival in Special Presentations, has been selected as the Czech Republic’s entry for the 92nd Academy Awards in the foreign language film category. The pic follows the journey of an unnamed boy [...]

  • Pakistan Picks Freshman Effort 'Laal Kabootar'

    Pakistan Picks Freshman Effort 'Laal Kabootar' as Its Oscar Entry

    Pakistan’s Academy Selection Committee has chosen “Laal Kabootar” as its candidate for the Oscars’ international feature film category. Directed by first-time helmer Kamal Khan, the gangland thriller set in Karachi’s underbelly follows the events that transpire when a woman in search of her husband’s killer is thrown together with a cab driver and petty criminal [...]

  • Atlantis

    Toronto Film Review: 'Atlantis'

    “It took you 10 years to cleanse this region of Soviet propaganda and myths,” says one character to another in “Atlantis,” going on to suggest that the devastation now left behind may never be “cleansed” at all. A strikingly bleak vision of a near future in which Ukraine has won its war with Russia but [...]

  • Beyonce Knowles'The Lion King' film premiere,

    ABC Announces Behind-the-Scenes Special for Beyoncé's 'Lion King' LP

    ABC has announced a new behind-the-scenes look into the making of Beyoncé’s “The Lion King: The Gift” LP, which is set to air September 16 on ABC at 10 p.m. EST. Titled “Beyoncé Presents: Making the Gift,” the new hour-long special will allow viewers to “experience the process” behind the “Lion King” companion album, according [...]

  • Jason Lei Howden, Samara Weaving and

    Daniel Radcliffe On Acting With Weapons Nailed To Your Hands

    How did “Guns Akimbo” director and writer Jason Lei Howden convince Daniel Radcliffe to play a character with guns nailed to his hands? Easy, he sent him the script. Radcliffe joined Howden and “Ready or Not’s” breakout star Samara Weaving in the Variety’s Toronto Film Festival studio, presented by AT&T to talk the limits of [...]

  • Box Office: It Chapter Two Maintains

    Box Office: 'It: Chapter Two' Continues International Reign With $47 Million

    Pennywise’s reign of terror hasn’t wavered: Warner Bros.’ “It Chapter Two” maintained first place on box office charts, led by another strong showing overseas. The sequel, based on Stephen King’s horror novel, generated another $47 million at the international box office for a foreign tally of $169 million. After two weeks of release, “It Chapter [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content