2005 Melbourne International Film Festival : Izo (2004)

5th August 2005

Director: Takeshi Miike
Starring: Takeshi Miike, Takeshi Kitano, Ryuhei Matsuda, Hiroki Matsukata, Kazuki Tomokawa

Tagline: This isn’t even a movie!

Izo is a vengeful spirit of an executed samurai whose mission in life is to kill, which he does in scene after unconnected scene with various people spouting supposedly philosophical dialogue that makes no sense at all and with bridging scenes containing stock footage of Hilter and wartime atrocities.

For some reason a folk/blues musician ( Kazuki Tomokawa) turns up in some scenes out of the blue and starts singing. It was funny the first few times, but eventually I wanted Izo to cut his head off as he got so annoying.

The main character is supposedly ‘condemned to eternal hell’, which is what watching this movie was like as there was no continuity and it only seemed to exist for the director to carry out his violent fantasies. I should be glad that we were at least spared having to see Izo wipe out a classroom full of children.

I have to admit that seeing samurai warriors running around in modern day Japan and a SWAT team fighting Izo in feudal times was kind of interesting, but it was ruined by not having anything to explain it. I know that Takeshi Miike’s movies are meant to be confusing, but at least his other movies have a plot. Even though I had problems watching Dead or Alive and Ichi the Killer, I at least knew who was killing who.

Although I am not calling for James Hewison’s head on a pike over this movie, it is definitely a sign that the Melbourne International Film Festival is starting to spin its wheels. The same types of movies are screening on virtually the same days and there have been various problems with the program and screenings, including this one as it had a scratch running the entire length of the print.

Rating: 1/10