Black Society Trilogy – Blu Ray

Shinjuku Triad Society | Rainy Dog | Ley Lines

Director: Takashi Miike

Screenplay: Ichiro Fujita | Seigo Inoue | Ichiro Ryu

Minutes: 100 | 95 | 105

Year: 1995 | 1997 | 1999

Score: 6.00 | 6.67 | 3.33

Release: Arrow Video

WARNING: I cannot recommend that you buy this boxed set. I wish I could but I cannot recommend films with graphic sexual assault. I will continue with the review. If Arrow breaks this set out into individual releases I do recommend Rainy Dog.

Films

While this is called the Black Society Trilogy there is very little connecting the films. They are gangster films which brought Takashi Miike a  level of fame to usher in his long and questionable career.

Shinjuku Triad Society tells the story of two brothers, one a police office and the other a prostitute who sells his body for protection. It is very early in the film that a viewer will know that this director is not one to shy away from provocative imagery as well as the ability to generate compassion for someone who would be derided by many viewers. The plot of the film is one brother trying to rescue the other, by any means necessary.

I watch a lot of police procedural shows, film and television, and I am no stranger to rape being portrayed on screen. While I detest it and feel it to be very cheap and lazy storytelling it is, unfortunately, something that happens. As soon as I saw the detective sodomizing a witness for information I knew that I could not actively recommend this set but I was mildly interested in continuing the feature to conclude the story.

One a technical level the film looks brand new and the sound was acceptable. My score is as high as it is because I felt that it works for what it is but I highly doubt I will queue this up again.

Rainy Dog

The second film in the set, Rainy Dog, was spectacular and is the only film that I will gladly spin up a second time. In Rainy Dog we follow a hitman as he works his way to financial freedom. Early on in the film a young, mute, child is left on his doorstep and the two manage to survive long enough to reunite the child his with mother. It isn’t a very strong narrative but Miike flexed his drama muscles enough to keep your blood pressure pumping.

If Arrow breaks this set up I will gladly recommend this as a day-one, blind, buy. Technically it shares the quality ofShinjuku Triad Society but on a content level it is heads above the rest.

Ley Lines

I did not watch Ley Lines in it’s entirely. About 30 minutes in a man sexually assaults a sex worker. It was unnecessary, graphic, and reminded me that films are voluntary, so I stopped. The story was vaguely interesting about small-town friends trying to make it in the big city but that was not enough to look anywhere beyond the rape scene.

It is unfortunate that some people cannot tell a descent story without sexual violence. If you buy this, that’s on you. Rainy Dog is great but you have to know going in what you are getting. Sadly the commentaries did not offer a shred of excuse for this and only suggested that the first scene, in Shinjuku, was only the first of many in Miike’s career. Well, now I know that I will not be seeking any more if his films out. I have watched Audition which probably should have told me enough but it was a while back and I didn’t put two and two together.

So, buyer beware.

Special Features

  • High Definition digital transfers of all three films ¬†
  • Original uncompressed stereo audio
  • Optional English subtitles for all three films
  • New interview with director Takashi Miike
  • interview with actor Show Aikawa (Rainy Dog, Ley Lines)
  • New audio commentaries for all three films by Miike biographer Tom Mes
  • Original theatrical trailers for all three films
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon

Score detail

Shinjuku Triad Society

Direction: 7 – Cinematography: 9 – Edit: 8 – Parity: 0 – Main performance: 5 – Else performance: 4 – Score: 9 – Sound: 5 – Story: 3 – Script: 6 – Effects: 7 – Design: 8 – Costumes: 5 – Keeps interest: 9 – Lasting: 5

Rainy Dog

Direction: 10 – Cinematography: 6 – Edit: 5 – Parity: 4 – Main performance: 7 – Else performance: 5 – Score: 10 – Sound: 5 – Story: 5 – Script: 7 – Effects: 5 – Design: 6 – Costumes: 5 – Keeps interest: 10 – Lasting: 10

Ley Lines

Director: 1 – Cinematography: 5 – Edit: 5 – Parity: 0 – Main performance: 5 – Else performance: 5 – Score: 5 – Sound: 5 – Story: 6 – Script: 0 – Effects: 5 – Design: 4 – Costumes: 4 – Keeps interest: 0 – Lasting: 0

 

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