By Ron Wells | April 20, 1998

This little gem from Japan is from 1995 but just now making the rounds of art houses in the U.S. It’s not unlike David Lynch directing John Waters script to “The Wild Bunch”, and if that ain’t a date movie, I don’t know what is.
Set during the collapse of Japan’s bubble economy, Bandai (Koichi Sato) is a former pop star, now owner of a disco and deeply in debt the local Yakuza. Without any possiblilty left of paying his loans, he decides upon the crazy scheme of gathering a bunch of misfits he meets at random; a disgraced ex-cop, a rent boy Bandai obsesses over, a bleached blonde pimp, and a laid-off salaryman (the craziest of the group); to rob the Yakuza headquarters. Hilarity ensues.
Former manga artist Takashi Ishii wrote and directed this film and it is GORGEOUS. It also has the most disturbing images of violence this side of Wes Craven (and I mean “Last House on the Left”-era Craven).
This film is probably getting a push because it features Japanese icon “Beat” Takeshi, but his role is minor as one of the gay hit men sent after the “Gonin”, meaning “five men”.
The one draw-back is that I would have liked more character scenes. Even then, every character feels fully thought out with their own back story. The two things likely to stay with you, though, are the sound of an aluminum baseball bat repeatedly striking someone’s head, and the salaryman’s return home to his family. If this is playing near you, SEE IT NOW.

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