Takashi Miike: An Original Filmmaker

This month saw the release of  13 Assassins by Takashi Miike, one of the most original and hardest working Directors still working today. In twenty years he has directed over eighty films in every genre, from sombre period pieces to fast paced crime thrillers and excelled in all areas. He has also had a very clear influence on a number of other directors most notably Quentin Tarantino who has openly admitted to being a fan. Eli Roth was so taken with Miike’s Audition he stated it as being the original influence for Hostel and even got the Japanese Director to make a cameo appearance. But what makes him truly stand out from the sea of other filmmakers?

First and foremost is his ability to craft truly original films which break away from conventions, a far cry from Hollywood’s recycled efforts. The Happiness of the Katakuris is impossible to pigeonhole into any one genre, being a musical romantic comedy filled with zombies and claymation. Visitor Q breaks all taboos following an extremely dysfunctional family as their life is turned around by a visitor from another planet. Ichi the Killer follows a gangster with a love of S&M as he tracks down the killer of his boss, who is even crazier than he is. If these were presented as premises to a Hollywood studio none would ever get made.

What’s more remarkable is how Miike can make films with such contrasting styles, proving that he is far from a one trick pony. On one hand he can make frenetic crime pieces such as Dead or Alive which surely has one of the most frenetic openings in cinema history. The opening montage shows numerous gangland killings, suicide, hard drug abuse, police brutality all within five minutes. The sheer amount of striking images accompanied with the thudding rock soundtrack definitely puts action directors such as Michael Bay and Brett Ratner to shame.

In stark contrast is Audition which is a far slower in comparison. It begins as a romantic drama as a son finds a new wife for his father, but the tone changes after the second half as the new wife’s past is revealed with shocking consequences. It has an almost Hitchcock-esque style with a slow build up, and strong characterisation, and is completely different to Dead or Alive, almost as if they were made by different filmmakers.

Next on the cards for Miike is Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai which will be the very first 3D film to be shown in the Official Selection for Cannes 2011.

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