Arriving home one evening with his wife,
Yoko (DEATH OF HONOR's Yumi Takigawa), elderly steel mill owner Toyama (the
great Ken Ogata) finds that his home has been invaded by Goseikai yakuza lieutenant
Aihara (Toshiyuki Nagashima) and his thugs. Behind on his payments to them,
Toyama can only watch helplessly as Yoko is gang raped. Unable to deal with
the humiliation, the woman later hangs herself. Forging himself a sword, Toyama
proceeds to kill several of the men but is unable to learn the whereabouts
of Aihara. Meanwhile, at the jewellery shop where Toyama and Yoko had been
shopping the night before, a robbery is in progress. The bandits are foiled
but, surprisingly enough, the women who do it grab the criminals' ski masks
and make off with the loot themselves. Toyama arrives on the scene just after
the fact and recognizes one of the foiled men as an associate of Aihara. While
on his way to finish off the rest of his targets, Toyama inadvertently learns
of where the women are splitting up the loot, and heads there, but the Goseikai
soon crash the party.
For the follow-up to his 1995 hit, writer/director Takashi Ishii switches
"the five" from men to women (Yo Kimiko, Mai Kitajima, Yui Natsukawa,
Yumi Nishiyama, and Shinobu Otake) and, while the characters are perhaps not
as indelible, the actresses are effective and we do grow more interested in
their backgrounds as the movie progresses. The group's changing allegiances
and the ever-shifting storyline (which, like the original, seems deceptively
simple at first) keep one guessing, while Ishii dazzles us with exceptional
imagery, ranging from shocking (the expected genre carnage) to poetic (a midnight
swim in a spacious pool) to amusingly crass (a none-too-subtle John Woo homage
with pigeons instead of doves). The director's years in manga are evident
once again, with the characters periodically spread out in some wonderfully
cluttered, panel-like compositions, and the de rigueur nudity is also right
out of this world (one of the heroines brutally dispatches her captor and
then showers the blood off her naked body using a handy kitchen sink attachment).
The intensity of the first film is not always present here but GONIN 2's style
and verve allow it to emerge as a worthy follow-up.
Cover art courtesy Tokyo Shock.
|Tokyo Shock/Media Blasters
Dolby Digital 2.0
Sync Sound Japanese and Dubbed English Language Tracks
Optional English Subtitles
10 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With (Tiny) Stills
Enhanced for 16:9 Displays
Coded for Region 1 Only
Contains brutal violence, nudity, sexual violence, and coarse language
menu courtesy Tokyo Shock.
BOARD RATINGS AND CONSUMER ADVICE
The anamorphic image is a bit soft and blacks are
uneven. Colors are also not especially dynamic but this may have been
by design. Although no 5.1 option is provided, the sound is good, with
very distinctively mixed music and a nice atmosphere. The disc defaults
to an English dubtrack but the revoicing is insipid and detracts greatly
from the picture. Aside from a brief instance of pixellation during one
bit of gunplay, the digital compression is competently handled. The translation
is good, though the use of "motherfucker" for "bakka"
is a bit extreme and an intertitle in the final minutes is left in Japanese.
As is more or less standard for Media Blasters, the original end credits
have been discarded and replaced with a cheap video generated English
crawl. Even more irritating is the fact that the company continues to
provide cast/character listings for the English voiceover artists (several
of whom are using obvious pseudonyms) but not for the actual cast! The
only extras are video promo spots for BLACK ANGEL, SCORE, BLOOD, and ZERO
WOMAN RETURNS (identified in the menu graphic merely as ZERO WOMAN) and
Ishii's name is actually misspelled on the back cover.
GONIN 2 is available at Poker
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© John Charles 2000 - 2002. All Rights Reserved.