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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Miike's subversive deconstruction of the crime thriller.
In the interview for the region 2, Tartan DVD of Dead or Alive, filmmaker Takashi Miike relates the details of the film's haphazard conception; proudly stating that the film was made in reaction to the money hungry producers who approached the gonzo filmmaker with the two male leads and the basic outline of a plot - and then told him to base whatever he wanted around them...
Published on 11 Sep 2007 by Jonathan James Romley

versus
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gratuitous, technically brilliant, yet shallow!!!
"Dead Or Alive" directed by Takashi Miike seems to have these same unhealthy obsessions. Gratuitous and shocking "Dead or Alive" is a shallow work. Technically brilliant yet empty.

Takashi Miikes greatest gift is that of the direction of his actors. He seems to understand the actor, the actors obviously trust him, and generally all the performances in his...
Published on 3 May 2006 by nmollo


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Miike's subversive deconstruction of the crime thriller., 11 Sep 2007
This review is from: Dead Or Alive [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
In the interview for the region 2, Tartan DVD of Dead or Alive, filmmaker Takashi Miike relates the details of the film's haphazard conception; proudly stating that the film was made in reaction to the money hungry producers who approached the gonzo filmmaker with the two male leads and the basic outline of a plot - and then told him to base whatever he wanted around them - safe in the knowledge that the star power alone would be enough to make it a hit. Thus, Miike's idea of for the film was to purposely go against this notion and to fill the film with enough jaw-dropping scenes and situations as to make it incredibly difficult for the film to play to any kind of mainstream audience. In doing so, he managed to create a lucrative three-film franchise that seems to parody the kind of Yakuza-based crime stories that the director was initially known for; whilst simultaneously deconstructing the entire language of the film in a way that is both satirical and highly subversive.

Of course, this kind of cinematic excess is easy to appreciate on paper, but perhaps not so exciting for those of us looking for a "proper film"... and, if the second half of this statement relates to you, then most probably Dead or Alive is something you might want to miss (if you do want to see Miike handle a more routine crime story, then I suggest his Triad Society trilogy, including the films Shinjuku Triad Society, Lay Lines and Rainy Dog). Dead or Alive shares certain similarities to those films, but takes it to an extreme level, in which the story is heightened to an almost preposterous level; characterised by that crashing introduction which plays like the opening credits of some hard-hitting TV cop show (only featuring topless pole dancers, excessive shoot outs, high-street assassinations and kinky homosexual sex) right the way through to that jaw-dropping final; which will no doubt have the majority of viewers scratching their heads and staring blankly at the screen in shocked disbelief. Oh no, he didn't!!! Oh, but he did!!!

So, we have a film that will certainly appeal to Miike's core audience of devoted followers who will try desperate to track down all of the 586 films he directs per year, but perhaps won't appeal to those unfamiliar with the broader aspects of the director's work. As other reviewers have pointed out, the film's main flaw is that it's incredibly lightweight; the kind of film made for the hell of it by a director undoubtedly having a ball trying to out do him self scene after scene after scene; as the story escalates into literally life-changing dimensions. Yes, it's often quite shocking and yes, it's often hilarious, but for me, it lacks the intellectual depth and broader artistic strokes of social satire that mark out Miike's greatest works; films such as The Bird People in China, Audition, Gozu, Visitor Q, Shinjuku Triad Society and The Happiness of the Katakuris.

Still, with that said, it is an enormous amount of fun for those in the mood, as Sho Aikawa's beleagured detective goes head to head with Riki Takeuchi's deflected Yakuza turned Triad against a backdrop of armed-robbery, drug trafficking, deceit, honour, family and revenge. The film's main talking points are obviously the opening and closing scenes, but between that, we have more controversial Miike-touches including a number of hyper-kinetic shoot-outs, a meeting with a sleazy pornographer (including an extremely graphic bestiality joke) and the sight of one character drowned in a paddling pool of their own excrement. There's also solid performances from the two main leads, in particular Sho Aikawa - one of my favourite Japanese cult-actors - as well as a typically manic supporting role from Miike regular Renji Ishibashi, as well as the usual imaginative cinematography, evocative soundtrack (including that thumping main theme) and a complete disregard for all notions of cinematic logic.

Dead or Alive isn't classic Takashi Miike, but it's certainly typical of his style. My advice to those new to Miike would be to try films like Audition, Ichi the Killer, The Happiness of the Katakuris and the Triad Society/Black Society trilogy first before progressing onto the warped brilliance of the three Dead or Alive projects. If, however, you're already fairly familiar with Miike's work, then I'd say give this one a try. You might not love it, but you'll certainly never forget it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definately breaks conventions, but...., 7 July 2002
By 
E Parry (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Dead Or Alive [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
The beggining and the end of this film are extreme stuff, it's crazy, punk-rock, way-over-the-top action, it's quite insane. However, the rest of it is completely different in tone, being a more serious story about gangs and a cop trying to pay for his daughters operation. Maybe it's just me, but I found the plot quite hard to follow, and there are some cultural references that we westerners don't generally know about. It's easier if you read the film notes that are on the DVD, but they kind of give away the ending.
This film wasn't as extreme as had been made out, but it's still pretty hardcore. The two or three scenes people have made most reference to were not at all how I expected, but may be more surprising if you don't know they're there. However, the bit where the man fries his own hand was quite silly and not believable enough to be either funny or shocking.
After the trailer, and the beggining of the film (the two are actually quite similar), I was hoping and expecting the rest of the film to be at least somewhat similar, but it's almost like a different film, and after the ultra-violent black humour of the opening sequence, you're not really prepared to take the characters seriously, so any attempt to care for them doesn't really work. The director seems to like playing with peoples expectations, but in this case so what if it doesn't really work?
This film is worth a watch, and may improve with repeat viewings, although it does rely on shock tactics.
The DVD is fine, no problems with picture or sound, and there's some fairly interesting extras.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ultra violence Miike style, 8 Nov 2006
By 
Nicholas - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Dead Or Alive [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
Fine stuff from Japanese director Takashi. Dead or alive is a gangster style flick that revolves around a turf tussle between the chinese triads and the japanese yakuza. At the front of the film is a tough cop intent on putting and end to the reign of terror...yeah sounds boringly familiar doesn't it. In truth this film has a fairly thin story but the set pieces and shock value it incorperates make it an enjoyable view.

The paddling pool scene is particularly memorable as is the much hyped but still excellent opening scene. My favourite section from the film must be the crazy party shootout though which has seen many isolated viewings in my player. Definitely one for the boys.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Miike's subversive deconstruction of the crime thriller., 13 Jan 2008
In the interview for the region 2, Tartan DVD of Dead or Alive, filmmaker Takashi Miike relates the details of the film's haphazard conception; proudly stating that the film was made in reaction to the money hungry producers who approached the gonzo filmmaker with the two male leads and the basic outline of a plot - and then told him to base whatever he wanted around them - safe in the knowledge that the star power alone would be enough to make it a hit. Thus, Miike's idea of for the film was to purposely go against this notion and to fill the film with enough jaw-dropping scenes and situations as to make it incredibly difficult for the film to play to any kind of mainstream audience. In doing so, he managed to create a lucrative three-film franchise that seems to parody the kind of Yakuza-based crime stories that the director was initially known for; whilst simultaneously deconstructing the entire language of the film in a way that is both satirical and highly subversive.

Of course, this kind of cinematic excess is easy to appreciate on paper, but perhaps not so exciting for those of us looking for a "proper film"... and, if the second half of this statement relates to you, then most probably Dead or Alive is something you might want to miss (if you do want to see Miike handle a more routine crime story, then I suggest his Triad Society trilogy, including the films Shinjuku Triad Society, Lay Lines and Rainy Dog). Dead or Alive shares certain similarities to those films, but takes it to an extreme level, in which the story is heightened to an almost preposterous level; characterised by that crashing introduction which plays like the opening credits of some hard-hitting TV cop show (only featuring topless pole dancers, excessive shoot outs, high-street assassinations and kinky homosexual sex) right the way through to that jaw-dropping final; which will no doubt have the majority of viewers scratching their heads and staring blankly at the screen in shocked disbelief. Oh no, he didn't!!! Oh, but he did!!!

So, we have a film that will certainly appeal to Miike's core audience of devoted followers who will try desperate to track down all of the 586 films he directs per year, but perhaps won't appeal to those unfamiliar with the broader aspects of the director's work. As other reviewers have pointed out, the film's main flaw is that it's incredibly lightweight; the kind of film made for the hell of it by a director undoubtedly having a ball trying to out do him self scene after scene after scene; as the story escalates into literally life-changing dimensions. Yes, it's often quite shocking and yes, it's often hilarious, but for me, it lacks the intellectual depth and broader artistic strokes of social satire that mark out Miike's greatest works; films such as The Bird People in China, Audition, Gozu, Visitor Q, Shinjuku Triad Society and The Happiness of the Katakuris.

Still, with that said, it is an enormous amount of fun for those in the mood, as Sho Aikawa's beleagured detective goes head to head with Riki Takeuchi's deflected Yakuza turned Triad against a backdrop of armed-robbery, drug trafficking, deceit, honour, family and revenge. The film's main talking points are obviously the opening and closing scenes, but between that, we have more controversial Miike-touches including a number of hyper-kinetic shoot-outs, a meeting with a sleazy pornographer (including an extremely graphic bestiality joke) and the sight of one character drowned in a paddling pool of their own excrement. There's also solid performances from the two main leads, in particular Sho Aikawa - one of my favourite Japanese cult-actors - as well as a typically manic supporting role from Miike regular Renji Ishibashi, as well as the usual imaginative cinematography, evocative soundtrack (including that thumping main theme) and a complete disregard for all notions of cinematic logic.

Dead or Alive isn't classic Takashi Miike, but it's certainly typical of his style. My advice to those new to Miike would be to try films like Audition, Ichi the Killer, The Happiness of the Katakuris and the Triad Society/Black Society trilogy first before progressing onto the warped brilliance of the three Dead or Alive projects. If, however, you're already fairly familiar with Miike's work, then I'd say give this one a try. You might not love it, but you'll certainly never forget it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Struggles to maintain the pace, but still excellent, 17 May 2003
This review is from: Dead Or Alive [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
Takashi Miike’s highly rated gangster film is noted for several things, the best known being the opening scene. This is, as has often been stated, one of the greatest openings in cinema history. Honestly, that isn’t an exaggeration, the beginning of this film is something else. Killings galore, stylish gunplay, people thrown from buildings, pole dancing and the longest line of cocaine you’ve ever seen in your life, all set to an excellent hard rock track that suits it perfectly, it is a visual and aural treat. Naturally, the rest of the film struggles to live up to the hugely over-the-top beginning, and to tell the truth, it does drag in places. That said, there are some very enjoyable set pieces, with the birthday party shootout, and the infamous ‘paddling pool’ scene taking pride of place. Oh yes, Miike-san isn’t afraid to show controversial material in his films, as anyone who has seen the magnificent Audition will confirm.
The ending to Dead Or Alive is a treat. Without wanting to give anything away, I will say that it could have come straight from a Bugs Bunny or Road Runner and Wil E. Coyote cartoon, and is in it’s own way as over-the-top as the opening scene.
Fans of Japanese cinema know what they’re going to get with a Takashi Miike film, and this delivers it in no uncertain terms. Whilst it may not quite live up to some of Takeshi Kitano’s yakuza classics (for me, Brother is the finest gangster film ever made), and could also do with him as its star, it is worth watching if only to see the beginning and end. There are certainly worse ways to pass a couple of hours.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Lord! They released it UNCUT???, 27 Jun 2002
By 
Mr. Paul S. Bird "dagadadagada" (Aylesbury) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Dead Or Alive [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
First up - This film is nothing like Miike's other film so far released in the UK (Audition). This is a Yakuza Vs Triad thriller as opposed to a nasty psychological horror. Secondly, this film is EXTREMELY explicit in what it depicts. There are huge gunfights, drugs, sex and humiliation all of a sort that would get this review banned from this site if I described it in detail. I'm VERY surprised that the BBFC allowed this through uncut, especially the scene with the dog and the scene with the paddling pool. If you like your films hard and nasty, this is for you. Also, if you like the films of Beat Kitano Takashi, you'll enjoy this.
One bad point - This is a Tartan DVD, and as such the picture quality could be better.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A future classic, 7 Feb 2008
By 
Alister King "Big Al" (London, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Dead Or Alive [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
from the same guy who did the gruelling Audition that makes Misery look like a tea party. Dead or Alive, is a cops-vs-yakuza thriller with the most amazing opener I have ever seen: it kicks off with six non-stop minutes of machine gun-paced violence, sex and slaughter, all set to a pounding heavy-metal beat. Its staggeringly good.
Its highly stylised and it's not always too easy to work out exactly who's doing what to whom. Its full of warped characters and bizarre, twisted happenings including one character deep-frying his own hand, and a stripper drowned in a paddling-pool of her own excrement. The end is phenomenal. Watch and learn.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gratuitous, technically brilliant, yet shallow!!!, 3 May 2006
By 
nmollo (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Dead Or Alive [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
"Dead Or Alive" directed by Takashi Miike seems to have these same unhealthy obsessions. Gratuitous and shocking "Dead or Alive" is a shallow work. Technically brilliant yet empty.

Takashi Miikes greatest gift is that of the direction of his actors. He seems to understand the actor, the actors obviously trust him, and generally all the performances in his movies are excellent. Unfortunately in "Dead Or Alive" we have some villainous over-acting on the part of Riki Takeuchi. By way of character development, the cast is given very little to work with and as a result they stay firmly within two-dimensional boundaries. The lack of sympathy with any of the cast is a major problem. You find yourself desensitized and uninterested in the fate of these unemotional and posturing characters.

The shoot-em-up scenes are beautifully structured and perfectly edited. These gunfights are superior to anything hollywood has had to offer in the last 10 years.

The drowning of a prostitute in her own feces is gratuitous in the extreme. Takashi Miike does reveal a lack of respect for the opposite sex in his movies. Girls spit semen or allow other species to enter them. Women seem to be vessels for his more degrading acts.

Takashi Miike is one of the greatest directors alive today. He has an extraordinary talent and by pointing out certain similarities or deficiencies in his films does not diminish the importance of his work. He is truly unique! I hope his future forays in motion pictures will be more rewarding than this shallow and disturbing, yet interesting piece.
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2.0 out of 5 stars more dead than alive, 31 July 2009
This review is from: Dead Or Alive [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
first of all i will say that yes the opening scene grabbed my attention and i thought this is going to be good.but after a great start i started to lose interest,the party shoot out was great,and the film had its moments,the scene in the paddling pool seemed pointless and the rest of the film didnt seem to go anywhere,although i did keep nodding off and kept thinking is it finished yet?.overall some good shooting but as a fan of asian films i was disappointed with this one,a watch once only film.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Something twisted, something shocking, all great!, 3 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Dead Or Alive [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
The first part Takashi Miike's fantastic DOA trilogy starts with a mind-blowing montage of ultra-violence and all that is nasty, but quickly slows down to turn out to be a surprisingly calm and slow gangster story with some very weird scenes here and there. The two main actors are simply great and the film ends with a duel of nothing short of absolutely massive proportions.
Highly recommended for fans of Asian action cinema.
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