• Gokudô kuroshakai / Rainy Dog (1997) - Unique lethargic melancholy set in a rainy Taiwan - 7/10 (29/04/17)

    Gokudô kuroshakai / Rainy Dog (1997)

    Rainy Dog is the second film in Takashi Miike's Black Society Trilogy that focuses on foreign gangsters with inner struggles that are trying to find a purpose in life. Despite a similar topic, Rainy Dog is very different from the first film Shinjuku Triad Society.

    The first movie focused on Chinese-born Japanese gangsters and police officers that were fighting each other in Tokyo's flashy suburb. This movie here focuses on a Japanese gangster who had to leave the country and settle in Taiwan after committing a crime.

    While the first movie focuses on a more complex plot, includes numerous characters and relies on quite brutal action sequences, this second film is almost an antithesis of the predecessor. Rainy Dog focuses on the solitary main character who works as a hit-man for a local gangster boss after his Japanese boss got killed in his absence. He ultimately tries to run away from his depressing everyday life. The solitary main character is followed by a mute boy that was dropped at his desolate dwelling by a woman the main character had sexual intercourse with many years ago but whose name he doesn't even remember and who claims that he is his son. This unusual duo teams up with a prostitute that wants to start a new life. The trio gets tracked down by three parties: another Japanese hit-man who was asked to avenge the crime that forced the main character to leave his home country, the friends and family members of a guy the main character executed in Taiwan and even the Taiwanese gangster boss the main character was working for in the beginning of the movie that decided to betray him.

    Rainy Dog is a quite revealing title because the main character and those who follow him behave, feel and run way like beaten dogs. In addition to this, it's almost constantly raining throughout the entire movie which adds to the desperate, melancholic and monotonous tone of the movie. Most scenes are set on abandoned beaches, in dark back alleys, in muddy forests and in small impersonal dwellings. This lethargic atmosphere is a little bit harder to digest than the vivid predecessor but it gives the film a very own style. The minimalist acting, the short dialogues and the desolate landscapes only add to this unique approach. The acting performances might be restricted at first sight but that was clearly the director's intention and it's actually quite interesting how the emotionless main character very slowly opens up to not only accepting but even feeling sympathy for the boy that might be his son and the prostitute that is his soulmate.

    The gloomy atmosphere from start to finish leads to a very fitting ending that you wouldn't get in a Hollywood movie and that even some of the actors involved disliked as you can hear and see in the additional interview included on this disc of the Black Society Trilogy package that has been released earlier this year. Personally, I really liked this movie's conclusion.

    In my opinion, Rainy Dog convinces with its profound atmosphere and three main characters that are as flawed as they are fascinating. The downside of the movie is its plot that is average at best and the mostly static action sequences that fail to add some much-needed punch to the lethargic movie. Fans of original Yakuza flicks and director Takashi Miike should give this film a try. Occasional fans of gangster movies can skip the second part of the Black Society Trilogy.

    « Shinjuku kuroshakai: Chaina mafia sensô / Shinjuku Triad Society (1995) - Takashi Miike's early masterpiece - 9/10 (27/04/17)Nihon kuroshakai / Ley Lines (1999) - Caught between divergent attitudes and emotions - 6/10 (29/04/17) »
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