Notable Cast: Kazuki Kitamura, Michisuke Kashiwaya, Tomorowo Taguchi, Dan Li, Show Aikawa, Naoto Takenaka, Samuel Pop Aning, Oh Far-long
To finalize his thematically connected Black Society Trilogy, Takashi Miike goes for a combination of the first two (Shinjuku Triad Society and Rainy Dog) for the third entry Ley Lines. While this idea seems very promising at its conception, the resulting mix that arrives in Ley Lines is a tad underwhelming particularly when the expectations are so high. The film is still an ambitious and artistic venture into the world of outsiders and their connection to organized crime and certainly deserves a lot of praise thrown its way, but it’s not nearly as entertaining in its grit nor is it as stylized in its characterizations as the previous entries. On its own, it’s still an accomplished work showing Miike’s directorial pizzazz at being able to weave exploitative elements with dramatic heft and thoughtful exploration of its themes, but at the same time the film tends to fall off balance with a few sequences that undercut the whole.
Two brothers and their close friend have had a rough go living in Japan. This is because they are of Chinese parents and no one will let them forget that they don’t belong. So it’s their intent to leave, but to do so they will have to earn some money and some contacts to get out of the country and this leads them to leave home and try and find their way in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Unfortunately, the easiest and fastest way to earn some cash is working with the underbelly of the criminal activity, but it’s also the most dangerous.
|The future...is staring back at them.|
However, it’s the second act where things start to feel unfocused and meander a bit too far. The addition of a more complex series of criminal activities to complicate matters and the arrival of a new character, a Shanghai prostitute, pull away too much from the intended focus. There are moments where this can work, seeing how she is just as used by the cruel men around her as these young friends are. However, moments were some of the black humor doesn’t work – including a very abrasive sexual encounter – detract from the message a bit too much. The same goes with some of the yakuza aspects. There are a handful of characters form the criminal realm that arrive that don’t add much to the narrative outside of being the “other” that our protagonists fight against. In the end, most of it still works, but there are moments where the flow and effective execution stumbles just a bit.
|It's okay to look back.|
Black Society Trilogy