Hong Kong Cinema

Rainy Dog

( Gokudo Kuro Shakai )

  • Made: 1997
  • Format: DVD
  • Region: Region 1 NTSC
  • Release Date: 31 Aug 2004
  • Company: Artsmagic
  • Length: 95 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, Chen Xian-Mai, Ming-Jun Gao, Tomorowo Taguchi

Rainy Dog is the second instalment in Takashi Miike's turbulent Black Society trilogy. Coming two years after the original it covers similar themes of violence and corruption within dreary and drab settings. However, the movie features a new set of characters and an entirely different direction. This film was shot in Taiwan during the rainy season, which you may have ermm. guessed from the title. The lead role is taken by Sho Aikawa (who later featured in all of the Dead or Alive series). Further and capable support is provided by Ming-Jun Gao, Chen Xian-Mai and Tomorowo Taguchi.

Sho AikawaJuji


A disillusioned Yakuza finds himself without a job and then has his illegitimate mute child dumped on him - bad day at the office! Sho Aikawa's Yuji is down and out in Taipei . He describes himself as a ' dismal foot soldier of the underworld '. As he trundles through life as a lowest of the low contract killer, his son starts to follow him as he goes about his work. As the film progresses, so do Yuji's relationships with his son Ah-Chen and a prostitute Lily (Chen Xian-Mai).

Their world is turned upside down when Yuji makes one kill too many and his victim's brother (Ming-Jun Gao) decides he wants to take his revenge. The movie turns into a man-hunt through the rain swept streets of Taipei . Even Yuji's own boss turns on him as the noose gets tighter. To add further spice to the mix, Tomorowo Taguchi plays an insane pursuant (whose motivation is never fully explained) who has followed Yuji all the way from Japan, but nothing more needs to be said as to his ultimate contribution.

Tomorowo TaguchiLily


Once you have navigated the much improved disc graphics, the film opens as it means to continue. The rain begins as Takashi Miike's name appears on screen. However, the gloomy feel of the movie also makes it one of Miike's most accomplished works. Miike happily draws influence from a wide range of sources. Perpetual rain has been used to great effect in Akirosawa's classic Rashamon and more recently in Se7en. Tom Mes notes the similarities to Luc Besson's Leon and the final stand definitely has a Western feel to it. The final scene between Boss Ku-Hung and Ah-Chen was also replicated in Kill Bill.

The camera moves in a patient manner, largely abandoning the home-video feel of his earlier works. This is especially an accomplishment as Miike was working with a Taiwanese only speaking film crew! Most refreshingly, Miike is not afraid of the dialogue that was conspicuously absent in Shinjuku Triad Society. He allows the viewer to see the blossoming of genuine relationships and even allows the viewer to start to bond to some of the characters!

KuRainy Dog


Aikawa's character has similar qualities to a traditional Kitano role (e.g. Hana-Bi / Sonatine) where a prosaic and isolated individual begins to understand the value of genuine human bonding. As might be expected, these tales never end with everybody living happily ever after. However, this is to miss the point completely, Rainy Dog is saying that truly living like human even for a few days is better than living a lifetime as a dog. Yuji, Ah-Chen and Lily are all dogs, subservient to their masters; only in the midst of a violent escape do they start to wake up to life.

Boss HungRoad Trip


As mentioned already, the disc looks much better than previous offerings. The film print is still reasonably low quality, but a marked improvement on Shinjuku Triad Society with a DD2.0 soundtrack. Miike deliberately had the print processed in Taipei to ensure that it did not get a squeaky clean treatment in Japan . Artsmagic have set high standards on the extras that they normally offer, and the likely offenders feature here again; Tom Mes commentary, Miike interviews, Shimamura interview (Editor), Bio's and filmographies etc.


Rainy Dog is a welcome departure from the opening film in the trilogy, it has meaningful characters and the violence never feels overstated. There is a lot more to like and a lot more to admire. The ending will not be to everyone's taste, but then again Miike never tries to cater for everyone. Rainy Dog has many forms, the film starts as the usual yakuza movie, then it turns into a road movie before finishing as a high-noon western, the only constant being the rain.



Ah-ChenMing-Jun Gao