Written by: Michael Den Boer on October 5th, 2004
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, March 22nd, 1997
Director: Takashi Miike
Writer: Masa Nakamura
Cast: Kôji Chihara, Seiji Chihara, Moeko Ezawa, Marie Kikuchi, Hiroko Nakajima, Sarina Suzuki
DVD Released: October 26th, 2004
Approximate Running Time: 107 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 and Stereo
DVD Release: Artsmagic
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95
Young Thugs Innocent Blood follows the exploits of four friends after graduation. Riichi is the group’s leader of this violent gang and his girlfriend Ryoko is just a malicious as the other three. The friends drift apart as things start to go wrong and the death of close friend ends up bringing them back together in the end.
Takashi Miike has gained a reputation for his brutal and unapologetic cinematic style crafting visceral nightmare visions like Ichi the Killer and Audition. Miike films are reminiscent of those made by Kinji Fukasaku in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. Miike films are written off in many cases as being nothing more then exploitation films made cheap and quick to turn a quick dollar. His films are fresh in the moment and Miike blends in social commentary into his films that balances the more chaotic elements in his films.
While not a brutal as most of Miike’s other films Young Thugs Innocent Blood starts off with a flurry of ultra violence before settling into a more character driven piece. Miike handles the young cast and subject matter really well as he manages to make all the lead characters sympathetic even if though they do bad things. The main structure of the story revolves around Riichi who more then any other character in the films has trouble controlling his anger and letting go of the past.
This wouldn’t be a Miike film if there weren’t some surreal moments that came out of left field and in final half hour there is such a bizarre moment that is classic Miike. The lead character Riichi reminded me of Alexander de Large character from a Clockwork Orange. Riichi is compelled to commit acts of violence and when he gets a new girlfriend she forbids him to fight back. That leads him to be beating by thugs because he is now defenseless like when Alex was in a Clockwork Orange when he was is cured. Miike perfectly uses Osaka’s beautiful scenery to add character and mood to the films backdrop. Young Thugs Innocent Blood has enough just enough violence though never gratuitous and some bitter sweet moments that pull at the heart strings. To convince you if you aren’t already a Takashi Miike fan then this film will.
Artsmagic latest Takashi Miike release Young Thugs Innocent Blood it presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original aspect ratio. The colors are strong and the black levels are deep in detail through out. There is no sign of grain or artifacts the print used for this transfer in excellent shape.
This DVD comes with two audio options Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 and Japanese Dolby Digital stereo. For this review I listened to the Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 which makes good use of the surrounds. The dialog is clear and the action is benefited by a dynamic Dolby Digital 5.1 track that has some bite. English subtitles have been included that are easy to read and follow.
Extras include the films original trailer, original sleeve concept art, bios/filmographies for the cast and Takashi Miike. Other extras include a nine minute featurette “Osaka people” about the people and place were the film takes place. Rounding out the extras is a seventeen minute interview with Takashi Miike.
Young Thugs Innocent Blood is one of Miike’s more restrained and mature films. Artsmagic’s gives one of Miike’s more obscure films a solid SE DVD and it is their best looking Takashi Miike transfers to date.