Hong Kong Cinema

Ley Lines

( Nihon Kuroshakai )

  • Made: 1999
  • Format: DVD
  • Region: Region 1 NTSC
  • Release Date: 31 Aug 2004
  • Company: Artsmagic
  • Length: 105 mins
  • Picture: 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Sound: Dolby 2.0
  • Language: Japanese with English Subtitles
  • Extras: Commentary, 3 Interviews, Bios, Filmographies,Trailers
  • Classification: NR
  • Trailer - click here


Takashi Miike


Sho Aikawa, Tomorowo Taguchi, Kazuki Kitamura, Dan Li, Naoto Takenaka

We've seen degrading violence in Shinjuku and rain-soaked pursuits through Tapei, the time has now arrived for the final instalment in Takashi Miike's Black Society trilogy. Ley Lines (1997) is the last piece of the jigsaw, which marks a return to Tokyo for Takashi and his crew two years after Rainy Dog. The swashbuckling lead was given to greenhorn Kazuki Kitamura (who later appeared as Boss Koji in Kill Bill). The supporting cast is provided by Dan Li, Tomorowo Taguchi, Naoto Takenaka and Sho Aikawa (also in Rainy Dog).

Tokyo arrivalKitamura


Ryuchi (Kitamura) leaves for Tokyo with his brother Shun (Michisuke Kashiwaya) and good fried Chan (Taguchi). They are all half-breeds without a true sense of home or identity, so city life should suit them perfectly. Unfortunately, they do not hit the ground running, and instead manage to get fleeced by a street-wise prostitute Anita (Dan Li). Soon they stumble into a world of drug pushing and violence, after a bizarre introduction from Ghanaian dealer, Barbie.

Their escape to Tokyo only plants new seeds of adventure and they decide to earn enough money to flee to Brazil . They even befriend Anita, and all become 'involved' with her, before deciding that they will take her with them. Things start to get complicated when they decide to grab some money from Boss Wong (Naoto Takenada). The ending is bittersweet; perhaps the closet Miike will ever get to a happy ending!

Dan LiMichisuke Kashiwaya


It is probably worth remembering exactly why this is a 'trilogy'. The films are shot on different locations, have different characters, different actors and different storylines. The only constants are Takashi Miike's direction, members of his film crew (e.g. Yasushi Shimamura as editor) and the excellent Tomorowo Taguchi. To delve a bit deeper, all three films tend to revolve around a prostitute deciding to leave their world of entrapment. However, there is little else to bring these things together. Takashi's trademark obscene violence is not even splattered throughout all three. The last two of the series lack the gore factor of the original, but even in 1997, Takashi still had yet to release his most shocking movies (Ichi, Audition).

Tomorowo TaguchiNaoto Takenada


There are still several disturbing scenes in Ley Lines, including a shock-factor S&M scene between Anita and a client. As Japanese censorship demands, there is the comic doodling over men's genitalia in this instalment as well. Miike also uses a strong red tint on several shots in the movie, which far exceeds the tinting used in previous movies. Violence and style apart, there is one dominant theme that separates Ley Lines from the other instalments. This film is essentially a French movie. There are the classic themes of alienation and lost identity in a bulging metropolis, accompanied by an accordion soundtrack. The characters contend feelings of ennui even in their hectic and dangerous lives. They are constantly looking for something, but have absolutely no idea what it is. There is also the classic sexual promiscuity that affects the group once Anita is brought into the fold. The characters are more distant than Rainy Dog, but this is necessary for what Miike is trying to achieve.

Ryuchi and ShunBikers


I won't spend a great deal of time here as the Artsmagic discs are largely consistent in specification and extras, but again the anamorphic widescreen print is ok, rather than superb, with a DD2.0 soundtrack. There are interviews with Miike and his editor, Shimamura. Tom Mes once again does the commentary and there are bio's and filmographies.


Miike has delivered an engaging movie which ensures the series finishes with a bang rather than a whimper. My personal preference still lies with Rainy Dog, but this film provides another fascinating insight into Miike's vision. His most willing assistant is Tomorowo Taguchi who easily delivers the performance of the trilogy as the headstrong Chan. Every moment on camera, he is entirely captivating; he alone is good enough reason to watch this film. There are many more reasons to watch Ley Lines, as the film sees both characters and directors try to make sense of the underworld.



BarbieThe long road home