Osaka Tough Guys (1995)

DVD Cover (ArtsmagicDVD)
Crime, Gangster Film
Takashi Miike Takashi Miike
Sei Hiraizumi Sei Hiraizumi
Kentarô Nakakura Kentarô Nakakura
Hachirô Oka Hachirô Oka
Yoshiyuki Omori Yoshiyuki Omori
Gajirô Satô Gajirô Satô

6.5 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Osaka Tough Guys stars Kentaro Nakakura and Yoshiyuki Ohmori. It tells the story of two hoods forced to take on paid work when they run out of money for booze, who end up being drawn into the spiderweb of the yakuza. --TMDb
Review by Ginose
Added: February 27, 2010
As I've been on a bit of a Miike kick, lately, I think it's only fair that I stop covering his well-known, well-loved works and try to take a step back to look at the man's career as a whole. It's fair to assume that no director starts their career off with a masterpiece (unless they're Tatsuya Ishida), so everyone has a few rough-ones off the starting-line. These random farts of films normally are the greater foundation of everything that their careers eventually become.

This work from Miike is not a particularly bad example of this, as it was made during the period before he really got his security as a genre-blending madman with a heart full of imagination. Posing really early in his film career, it is often considered the start of his staples in the film world: coming-of-age young-adulthood stories and yakuza gang-flicks. Odder still, it's a pretty decent comedy, but not much more.

Two friends, after a night of heavy-drinking and vomiting, protect a young-woman from being attacked by a group of thugs from their high-school, this is followed by a... rather strange run-in with a yakuza. Makoto and Eiji, the very next day, discover that they're being expelled from their high-school but, with a little black-mail, they have no qualms with leaving (with a hefty 1,000,000 yen in their pockets). After a night of drinking and partying, trying to live it up like the yakuza big-wigs they see, the boys are left completely broke and in need o f work. They soon discover a job that offers 500,000 yen a month and requires little to no skill to obtain. Leaping at the opportunity, the boys soon discover that their "job" is nothing more than conscription into a local yakuza family.

So, starting off, this is a comedy, and a fairly well-done one at that. This is another case of "I've never read this comic", but there is no doubt in my mind that it understands its source-material graciously. This looks, feels and plays out just like a comic, and it works on a whole lot of levels, besides your average action/comedy.

Performances are great, on most fronts, but they certainly feel like they're acting-out a comic-book. This is all great-fun, but it's not a fantastic approach to an actual film. No complaints, but it's not getting any points, either.

The story is very simple, uncomplicated and keeps itself working nicely, throughout. I can't think of how I would have done it better, really, but some of the silly shit that happens just doesn't make a lot of sense in the static execution it's presented in. The fake explosives, fourth-wall breaking and in-jokes of yakuza culture just don't translate very well, and offer themselves as particularly strange ways to go about things, when presented in such a simplistic way. Perhaps the budget makes the dynamics suffer, but I feel that it's much more than that, at times, but I can chalk at least THAT up to the inexperience of the filmmaker at the time.

Still, it's exciting, and interesting and holds a good pace, throughout. I never found myself getting bored with it. Confused, yes. Annoyed at times, yes. Never bored, however, and I don't think I could have been with such a fun-delivery, but a good movie won't always be entertaining, and the very opposite is true, as well.

This is a unique movie, and it certainly doesn't feel like anything else Miike's made throughout his career, thus far. A great, and somewhat awkward experience this work is.

Through no string of chance, many of the greats started off with films unlike anything that they'd go on to do in the future, yet they turn out masterpieces in their own respects; Kubrick had "The Killing", Spielberg had "Jaws", Lynch had "The Elephant Man"... Miike's step into that light, however, was not as fortunate as these masterpieces.

It's fun, silly and take little-to-no thought to get into, but its simplicity is also its curse. Not a terrible baby-step, not a forgotten masterpiece, "Osaka Tough Guys" is just there, really.

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