Plot Outline: In the desolate future of Japan, the corrupt homosexual leader of the country demands that no one reproduces unless he allows it. He even forces everyone to take birth control so that no one can even try. Things begin to change when a lone stranger (Sho Aikawa) wanders into Yokohama, and after helping a child whom the police were trying to kill, he is accepted into the society of the rebels. On the exact opposite side of the law a married police enforcer (Riki Takeuchi) has been allowed to actually have a child and family. He questions his work, but goes by the books anyway. Now these two men are being brought closer and closer to battle, but have they met before?


The Review: Dead or Alive: Final, after reading countless negative reviews I couldn’t help but lower my expectations. I remember reading one review on by some guy who said he loved the first film and is a fan of Miike, but said this sequel was incredibly disappointing. You’d think I would have learned to never trust a review from that site over the years, but I keep coming back. Well yes, DOA: Final isn’t as spectacular or as violent as the first two DOA films, and I’m sure many people are going to walk away disappointed, but I just can’t help but at least love Final. It’s classic Miike, everything we’ve come to know and love about the master.

Maybe that’s all there is, maybe people just expected pure out violent mayhem. At first even I was, because I read a interview with Miike some time ago where he said he was returning the series to it’s action filled roots. In a way Miike has done that, but not in the way I, or anyone else, expected him to. Instead of the violent action of the first film (specifically that intro), Miike actually removes almost all violence from this film. There’s really barely any bloodshed in the film. Miike brings the action to the screen via martial arts, a first for the man as far as I can tell. He also fills the film with several ‘bullet time’ styled effects and a bizarrely fascinating script that keeps everything moving and rarely gets tacked down in melodrama or any other staples of the genre. The film does take brief moments away from the action though. The film blends the childish Kitano-esque reminiscence of the second film and the wild action of the first. In a way the film, although not resembling either, is a mix of both. Bringing it all together, and the end even tries to bring closure to everything. I won’t say how, but I will say I found it quite fulfilling. It’s good to know the films kind of take place in the same universe, and aren’t just held together by name.

When held in comparison, Final actually has the fastest moving plot of all three films. That doesn’t really say much when you realize the first two films had such purposefully dragging paces. The action isn’t non-stop of course, but it’s much more plentiful than the other films and the talky scenes always seem to be kept moving, this is likely because of how interesting and peculiar the script is. I imagine being the final film in such a spectacular series is going to put pressure on just about any film, and unless you’re a die hard Miike fan like myself this may not fulfill all your expectations, but trust me this is by no means a bad film in the least. After just watching Returner, I can’t help but love this film even more, because I imagine it wasn’t made with a tenth of the budget or the time, but this film still has more imagination, excitement and even action. Sure, the choice to use the bullet time effect was an odd one, but Miike makes it work. It’s not used as much as one might think, and when he uses it it’s usually to good effect. He’s the only director that I’ve seen whom I actually can respect for his use of CG. See: Ichi the Killer.

Sho and Ricki return of course, Ricki playing closer to his character in the original film and Sho playing closer to his character in the sequel. Sho shines just as bright as he did in the second film, exubihrating energy and charisma. Everyone always brags about how cool Ricki is, and no doubt he’s one of the baddest looking mothers out there, but Sho is the guy who really grabs me. I’d love to catch some of his other straight to video stuff. This time around there’s a international vibe with the supporting cast. Some Chinese actors, and even a Chinese actor who speaks English. In true Miike fashion, no matter what language the characters speak they all seem to understand one another. Much like Karen’s English in Ichi the Killer.

Of all Miike’s films, this seems most comparable to City of Lost Souls (Hazard City for some), a film that isn’t exactly one of Mikke’s most beloved films. I’m a fan of it, but people tend to expect all out gore from Miike and when he doesn’t deliver, especially in an action film, people get upset. If you’re a City of Lost Souls fan, or a Miike fanboy like myself, Final is must see cinema. Miike is growing and it’s obvious, maybe when he makes his 300th film he’ll be making films beyond our limited comprehension. All hail the master!

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