THE CITY OF LOST SOULS
(2000, Japan) Director:
RUNNING TIME 105 mins.
US Rights: American Cinematheque Presents/Vitagraph Films (Japanese Outlaw Masters)
ADDITIONAL NOTES C
Two lovers, a Japanese-Brazilian tough-guy named Mario and a Chinese hairdresser named Kei, unknowingly begin a decent into hell when they find out that Kei is about to be deported. In a daring rescue, Mario saves Kei from the immigration authorities, and hides her away in Tokyo's Brazilian quarter. Mario then hatches a plan to get them some fake passports and stow away on a ship headed for a foreign country, but to do so, they'll need money. With his girlfriend help, he tries to steal money from the Yakuza, but instead receives a large bundle of cocaine. When he sells it off, they come after them and kidnap Kei, causing Mario to come to her rescue again.
Not available to buy at this time.
TOKYO CRIME TALE REWARDS AT BREATHLESS PACE
Friday, June 28, 2002
By SEAN AXMAKER
Miike Takashi, the wild man of Japanese crime cinema, creates quite the multicultural stir-fry in this punk Bonnie and Clyde centered in the Portuguese-speaking barrios of Tokyo.
Japanese-Brazilian outlaw Mario (Teah) returns to Japan from a job in a wind-blasted Brazilian village (the grungy opening feels like a Sergio Leone spaghetti Western set at the end of the world) to rescue his Chinese immigrant girlfriend Kei (Michelle Reis) from deportation.
On the run from Japanese Yakuza, Tokyo cops and a Chinese Triad boss with a penchant for bondage who wants Kei as his own plaything, Reis' startled doe of an innocent blossoms into a stone-cold machine-gun mama under the wing of her brooding bad boy in black leather.
The cultural color and the crazy asides alone are enough to drive this picture, from demure beauty Kei turning human flame thrower to speed up negotiations with a Russian rogue to a mad CGI-created Molotov cockfight with a Matrix twist.
Moments of magic realism and jolts of bizarre toilet humor (Miike views one thug's headlong dive into a toilet from inside the bowl) weave through the mob clashes, gangster standoffs and anarchic gunfights.
All the while, a Brazilian pirate TV station turns news reports of the underdog couple's underworld flight and daring mob hijack into a South American soap opera.
Miike directs at a sprint and gives the film the impulsive headlong feel of an improvised riff from a generic crime tale cranked up to overdrive. You get the sense that if he let up for a second, the racing series of violent set pieces and furious chases would dissolve into anarchy.
Not to worry. He unleashes more creative imagery, cinematic mayhem and stylistic energy in that opening half hour than most films can muster in an entire feature: It's comic book splash in the best sense, held together by surprise and sheer momentum.
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