Hong Kong Cinema

Shinjuku Triad Society

(aka Shinjuku Kuroshakai)

  • Made: 1995
  • Format: DVD
  • Region: Region 1 NTSC
  • Release Date: 31 Aug 2004
  • Company: Artsmagic
  • Length: 102 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


Kippei Shiina, Takeshi Caesar, Kyosuke Izutsu, Ren Osugi, Tomorrow Taguchi, Airi Yanagi, Eri Yu, Shinsuke Izutsu

Shinjuku Triad Society is the first instalment in Takashi Miike's Black Society Trilogy, released in 1995. The lead is played by Kippei Shiina, who plays the second generation Japanese - Chinese cop caught up in a mafia war in Shinjuku. This was Kippei's first role with Takashi Miike, but his varied career brought him alongside many other stars of Asian cinema; Takeshi Kitano (Gonin), Takeshi Kaneshiro ( Sleepless Town ). However, his most successful works were behind the camera of Takashi Ishii, with whom he enjoyed his first breakthrough in 1993 with A Night in Nude. The supporting cast includes Miike regular Tomorowo Taguchi (Full Metal Yakuza, Dead or Alive 2), plus Eri Yu, Ren Osugi and Shinsuke Izutsu.

Kippei ShiinaTomorowo Taguchi


Shinjuku Triad Society has a plot, many sub-plots, and some bizarre scenes that sit very awkwardly within the movie. Even at a relatively early stage in his career (this was Miike' first cinematic release), it seems that Miike was already hell-bent on disturbing and shocking viewers as much as anything else. The one-liner for this movie is that Kiriya (Shiina) is a cop chasing down the sadistic mafia Boss Wang (Taguchi), however his loyalties are stretched as his naive lawyer brother, Yoshihito (Shinsuke Izutsu), is working for Boss Wang.

Boss Wang sports a youthful gay prostitute who takes delight in extremely debauched acts and killing cops. His gang also includes the nymph-whore Ritsuko (Eri Yu), who becomes Kiriya's unlikely saviour as the blood starts to spill. The focus of the movie shifts between Kiriya's determination to get his brother out of the mafia and the turf war between Wang's Dragon Claw Society and Uchida's Yamane gang (Ren Osugi). If this wasn't enough for one movie, there is an additional storyline about Wang operating a hospital in Taiwan where he buys organs to sell on the black market. All this, plus plenty of bullets, rape and beatings are the essential ingredients behind Shinjuku Triad Society.

StakeoutShinsuke Izutsu


Miike's camera is deliberately lazy and disengaged from the content. This echoes the random and stuttering pace of the movie. Many will dislike the way in which it is almost impossible to engage with any of the characters, but that is probably exactly what Miike wanted for this desolate tale. The gloomy atmosphere is a perfect backdrop to this dark and twisted world. What makes this film unlike so many of its contemporaries, is the complete lack of piety throughout the leading characters. There is no 'white knight', everyone including Kiriya is up to their knees in filth and violence.


Eri YuYamane Gang


Ritsuko proves to be the unlikely heroine of the movie, saving Kiriya from the evil throes of Boss Wang. Her reasoning is rather dubious, as he is the only person to make her climax when she was not on drugs (whilst raping her!). This seems shocking, disturbing, twisted etc, but within the context of Miike's crazy landscape it does not jar that much. There are other moments that try to steal the limelight, including Wang removing someone's eye and the over-the-top blood fest when Kiriya tracks down Wang for the final showdown. Also of note, is the fascination once again in Tomorowo Taguchi's genitalia (commonly prosthetic), a theme that continues the second instalment, Rainy Dog and Full Metal Yakuza!


Taguchi Shiina returns


The Artsmagic disc is up to their now expected high standards. The film is presented in a 16:9 anamorphic print with Dolby 2.0 sound. The image is not particularly high quality, but I suspect this is more to do with the quality of the source print, as these movies were shot on a tight budget. The disc is gladly packed with extras, including the commentary from Tom Mes, three interviews and bios / filmographies. They have also avoided my previous grumble over tacky disc graphics with a much more understated (and ultimately professionally) looking disc presentation.


Shinjuku Triad Society represents the beginning of a dark and captivating examination of Miike's imagined underworld. It is surpassed by the later works in the Black Society Trilogy, but the foundations are well set in this brutal tale. The performances manage to carry a slightly wayward story which regularly threatens to lose itself. This is definitely not a movie to watch if you want to feel warm and contented for 90 minutes. In fact, I struggle to think of many good reasons to watch this film, but I can guarantee that once you have started you will be gripped till the bloody end.




Eri saves the dayBoss Wang