Gozu (Yakuza Horror Theatre: Cow’s Head), 2003

Cinema Epoch

Everything I’m about to tell you is a joke. Don’t take it seriously.”

– Ozaki 

Clocking in at 130 minutes (uncut), Gokudô kyôfu dai-gekijô is absurd and teeters precariously between shocking, preposterous and risible. No matter how hard I tried, this pilgrim was unable to decipher or even come close in trying to make the screenplay accessible to me and get familiar with the bizarre, unnerving, and perhaps also annoyingly incoherent visuals that Takashi Miike (Ichi the Killer, 2001) has the audacity to put on-screen. But who am I to question Miike’s audacity, it is one of those things that makes him what he is. A provocateur with wanton yet prodigious imagination. 

To say it is surreal would be an understatement. Gozu is an out of control basket case, which by showing an extremely overwrought exchange between a Minotaur and Minami (the hero?) makes us wonder if Minami is traversing a Daedalian labyrinth; making the film a quest of the Greek variety. 

Aray aap? Kaisay aana hua?

A yakuza henchman, Minami (Yûta Sone) is ordered by his addicted to sex boss to assassinate another Yakuza, Ozaki (Shô Aikawa)who also happens to be Minami’s friend and colleague and on the verge of a full blown mental collapse. Ozaki goes missing during a road trip and what follows is for each viewer to interpret on his/her own. 

Gozu might be excessively layered, highly incoherent, hermetic, unhinged, and cryptic but that does not mean that the movie has to run beyond two hours. I read somewhere that “it sneakily taps into our collective psychosexual fantasies“; for two long fucking hours? What is it? Freud with too much time on his hands?
The troupe of supporting characters is compulsively unconventional, displaying some high-class (bad-taste) oddity. Plus the peculiar music by Kôji Endô, the newfangled editing by Yasushi Shimamura and sheer abstract nature of the film makes this one an impalpable Yakuza Horror. The sound design makes you want to crawl under a blanket (or a rock) and stay there. All this seems to hover somewhere above the actual events of the film itself creating a sense of utter dread and ephemeral fear, yet the same events and factors move the narrative forward, straight into a bull’s head.

A film that starts with a poodle being squashed to death when Ozaki keeps picking up the tiny creature and hitting it hard on the sidewalk (something like what Ephraim Winslow does with that poor seagull in The Lighthouse); and ends with a full-grown man exiting a woman’s vagina, covered in amniotic slime and reaching out to Minami. This has to be one of the most offbeat, outlandish but precariously hilarious and extraordinary films. Although, be warned there are moments where I was checking how much longer was the film supposed to run. Yup, it gets a wee bit lost in its own grandiose ‘Miike credo’. For the fans, Gozu is an essential collage of playlet but for the regular and keen viewers, the film is bloody mystifying and an insight into one of the most extravagant, creative forces. And that isn’t too bad, just that Gozu is one of the lesser films from the mad scientist simply because it is incomprehensible in so many ways. 

My two cents.

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