LoveDeath

Japan, 2006

Director: Ryuhei Kitamura
Starring: Shinji Takeda, NorA, Riki Takeuchi
IMDB: 6.7

LoveDeath from director Ryuhei Kitamura (Versus, Azumi) is essentially a Japanese road movie cum Yakuza flick, which explains the 'death' portion of the film's title. There's loads of guns, standoffs, random killings, and even a few squirty death sequences.

The 'love' portion of the title refers to the romance between the two leads, Sai (Shinji Takeda) and Sheila (NorA), and explains why Sai lets himself get embroiled in the sticky situation that Sheila has gotten herself into. Having taken the dangerous path of stealing money from the Yakuza, Sheila finds herself on the run from a revenge-bent Yakuza crime lord with only Sai to protect her.

Luckily, Sai is a kick-ass kinda dude, who is up to the task of dealing with the teams of Yakuza assassins on their tail.

 

LoveDeath is a very long movie - clocking in at 2hrs and 39 minutes, with a huge cast of characters. I've often heard reviewers comment that a movie would be better if it was edited down in length. No doubt they would say the same here. If this film was edited down to say, the standard 90 minutes, it would be rated very highly, as there is easily 90 minutes of excellence contained.

However, if you did that you'd lose the remaining 69 minutes, which might not be of the same high quality, but I still want to see. Personally, I'm glad that Kitamura got his way and left everything in. But you need to set aside an evening for this movie.

 


The acting of the two leads is a standout - Shinji Takeda is very, very cool in a wiry, chiseled Bruce-Lee kinda way, and newcomer NorA is sexy and surprisingly good considering this was her first ever film role. I'm not sure if she was a model previously, it wouldn't be a surprise ... but her official site lists her as an actress and a singer. She has since starred in Kitamura's Midnight Meat Train, but nothing else is listed - at IMDB at least. What a shame.

Apparently the film is riddled with characters played by famous personages, chiefly musicians - however I can't claim to know who they are. Some of the acting by these side-characters seemed quite dodgy and amateurish at times. On a more positive note, it also features a ton of eye-candy provided by model/racequeens such as YinLing and Miho Yoshioka among others, cast in roles such as Dominatrix, Nurse, Waitress etc. And as an added bonus, even rubber-faced Riki Takeuchi makes a guest appearance.

 


This film has all the familiar staples of the new breed of Japanese cinema ... its quirky, sexy, crude, silly, violent, bloody, and at times laugh-out-loud funny. The story doesn't break any new ground - there's no deeper meaning to be discovered, and there's not really anything standout to make this movie a must-see. Just come along for the ride and experience some good ol Japanese fun. Recommended.

7.0/10

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Trailer


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