Takashi Miike’s Dead or Alive trilogy has hit Blu-ray thanks to Arrow Video. This two disc set features three very unique films from a well known director who has a cult following of his own. Is this set for anybody? Or just for the Miike fans out there?
Takashi Miike is a name you may or may not be familiar with. Personally, I’ve heard of him many times from my discussions with other film buffs and Blu-ray collectors, but I couldn’t name a single one of his films. He is one busy director, with over one hundred movies to date, so chances are you’ve at least heard of some of his work, even if you don’t keep tabs on Asian cinema.
So, with 100 films under his belt, this man must be great right? Well yea, he’s pretty great, but his films are a bit divisive and may or may not be up your alley, from what I’ve heard. So where does the Dead or Alive series place?
Well, they certainly start off strong. The opening sequence of Dead or Alive is memorable, to say the least. Between the sex, drugs, rock and roll, and violence, Miike packs one hell of a trip into about six minute’s worth of film. What we get out of this opener is a sense of what the trilogy will focus on – crime.
At heart, the Dead or Alive movies all surround the criminal underground and turf wars, while pin pointing on the details of a few key characters. However, things turn almost bizarre as we end the series in the 24th century where the gangsters and android are co-existing and the stakes are escalated.
Yes, I said 24th century and androids…which is why Miike has his following.
Miike has one hell of an imaginative take of Japanese and Chinese crime in these films, and if nothing else, his style is what brings it all together. These are precisely the types of films that get people’s attention to a director, and sparks a bit of a cult following.
Having said all of this, I found it a bit hard to really be drawn into these films. I don’t really think there is any one thing that kept me at a distance here, but it might just be that Miike’s style is a bit odd and I spent more time contemplating every little thing rather than enjoying the story. Fans of his work are likely to love these films, however, and if you are at all interested in Asian crime films, you should give this one a go.
Unfortunately, despite Arrow’s best efforts, the visual quality in this release was a disappointment. I should note that they did not have any film to restore as these were shot digitally, and they kept some imperfections both out of respect to the original intentions of Miike (say hello to the greenest tint ever), and some things just were hardcoded to their source. Bummer.
Thankfully, though, the sound quality doesn’t experience any issues. It definitely sounds like an older film, but the 2.0 track sounds pretty decent throughout.
- Toshiki Kimura: Drifting with Miike
- Riki Takeuchi: Deadly Outlaw Riki
- Show Aikawa: Cop, Killer, Replicant
- Dead or Alive US Trailer
- Dead or Alive Japanese Theatrical Trailer
- Dead or Alive Commentary with biographer Tom Mes
- Dead or Alive 2 Theatrical Trailer
- Making of Dead or Alive 2
- Dead or Alive: Final: Making of
- Dead or Alive: Final: Promotional Interviews
- Dead or Alive: Final: Mystery Trailer
- Dead or Alive: Final: Theatrical Trailer
As always, Arrow packs these discs full of goodies, which is great. However, if you aren’t a big fan of the series or of Miike’s work, then there’s not a lot here for you.
For this release, Arrow has included two Blu-ray with nice looking art on them, a double sided sleeve with a really nice and shiny slipcover that matches one side. Also inside is a full color booklet filled with pictures, transfer information, film credits, and an essay. On the whole, this is one attractive set.
Arrow fans will be drawn in by the shiny slipcover, but this set is a bit hard to recommend as a blind buy. Miike’s work is imaginative and unique, but might not appeal to everyone. But hey, if you’re looking at Arrow releases, you are probably looking for the weird. Personally, I would recommend trying to watch Dead or Alive first to see what you’re getting yourself into.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.