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Takashi Miike's Black Society Trilogy [2 Blu-rays]

 

Shinjuku Triad Society (1995)                          Rainy Dog (1997)                              Ley Lines (1999)

 

 

After several years spent working almost exclusively in the direct-to-video world of V-cinema in Japan, Takashi Miike announced himself as a world-class filmmaking talent with this trio of thematically-connected, character-centric crime stories about violence, the underworld of Japanese society, families both real and surrogate, and the possibly hopeless task of finding one's place in the world. His first films made specifically for theatrical release, and his first for a major studio, the Black Society Trilogy was the beginning of Miike's mature career as a filmmaker and they remain among the prolific director's finest works.

Set in the bustling Kabuki-cho nightlife neighborhood of Tokyo, Shinjuku Triad Society follows a mixed-race cop (Kippei Shiina, Outrage) struggling with private issues while hunting a psychotic criminal (Tomorowo Taguchi, Tetsuo the Iron Man) who traffics in children's organs. Rainy Dog, shot entirely in Taiwan, is about an exiled yakuza (Dead or Alive's Show Aikawa) who finds himself saddled with a son he never knew he had and a price on his head after the Chinese gang he works for decides to turn on him. Ley Lines moves from the countryside to the city and back, as three Japanese youths of Chinese descent (including The Raid 2's Kazuki Kitamura) seek their fortune in Tokyo, only to run afoul of a violent gang boss (Naoto Takenaka, The Happiness of the Katakuris).

Three of the most dramatically moving films created by the director, the "Black Society Trilogy" offers clear proof that Miike's frequent pigeonholing as a specialist in bloody spectacle is only one aspect of his filmmaking career, and taken as a whole, the films are among the finest works ever to deal with the way violence and brutality can unexpectedly destroy even the most innocent of lives.

Titles

Posters

 

 

 

Distribution

Arrow Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Subtitles

English, None

Features

Release Information:
Studio: Arrow Films

Edition Details:

• New audio commentaries for all three films by Miike biographer Tom Mes
• New interview with director Takashi Miike (45:07)
• New interview with actor Show Aikawa (Rainy Dog, Ley Lines) (21:42)
• Original theatrical trailers for all three films (1:25, 1:28, 1:41)
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon
• FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the films

Blu-ray Release Date:
January 24th-25th, 2017

 

Comments:

NOTE: These Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

This is the another Arrow Blu-ray release that is being simultaneously released in both region 'A' (US) and 'B' (UK). It is the exact same package on both sides of the pond beyond minor cosmetic differences on the disc labels and sleeve to do with differing copyright info and barcodes, and the US release doesn't have BBFC logos.

NOTE: We call this region FREE . although technically it is region 'A' + 'B'. I've yet to see a region 'C'-locked Blu-ray so most will consider this region FREE.

The Takashi Miike's Black Society Trilogy is a 2 Blu-ray disc package from Arrow. Both Shinjuku Triad Society and Rainy Dog are housed on the first BD, with trailers, and Ley Lines  is on the second disc with the video supplements. All films are 1080P, 1.85:1, have linear PCM audio, optional English subtitles and all three films include a Tom Mes (author of Agitator: The Cinema of Takashi Miike) commentary.

The image quality seems at the mercy of the original sources. They improve as the films get younger but are all highly grainy, very thick, can be a bit green and dark scenes can be exceptionally dark at times. There are instances of optical censorship (see three samples below.) The image for each film is consistent and there is no egregious damage. I think the screen captures below should give you a fair idea on how they may look on your system - dense and film-like. In-motion they were fine - supported with high-ish bitrates. These are definitely not modern, glossy, tightly pristine visuals - as most might anticipate.

All three films have linear PCM transfers in the original Japanese (and other Asian languages), authentically flat and in 24-bit. It can sound bit erratic at times - occasionally scattered and I'm sure this is reflective of the condition of the sources. Effects carry, only, modest weight. The score for Shinjuku Triad Society is by Atorie Shira (his only film credit) and the other two, Rainy Dog, and Ley Lines, have scores by K˘ji End˘ (Audition, 13 Assassins, Gozu, The Bird People in China, The Happiness of the Katakuris, Three... Extremes, Sukiyaki Western Django, The City of Lost Souls ). They aren't especially balanced to the onscreen action - but this, again, is a factor of the productions. It sounds buoyant and impressive via the lossless - and there are optional English subtitles (for Shinjuku Triad Society and Ley Lines the non-Japanese languages are in square brackets to differentiate from the Japanese, but in Rainy Dogs, where the dialogue is primarily in Mandarin or Taiwanese so the Japanese has been exported in square brackets) on the region FREE Blu-ray discs.

Aside from educational audio commentaries for all three films by Miike biographer Tom Mes (author of Agitator: The Cinema of Takashi Miike) - as already mentioned plus there is a new, 3/4 hour interview with director Takashi Miike exclusively for Arrow - shot in Montreal in 2016. In it Miike speaks about his early career and his work on Black Society Trilogy. There is also a new, 22-minute, interview with actor Show Aikawa shot by Arrow in Tokyo, May 2016. Aikawa talks about his extensive V-cinema career and his work on Rainy Dog and Ley Lines with Takashi Miike. There are original theatrical trailers for all three films and the package has reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon and for the first pressing, only, an illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the films.

The Black Trilogy DVDs were over 12-years ago. Arrow just keeping being the go-to company for these Japanese film series Boxsets. Now, from them on Blu-ray: The Human Condition, Battles Without Honor and Humanity, Kiju Yoshida: Love + Anarchism, Stray Cat Rock, Outlaw: Gangster VIP Collection, Lady Snowblood, Female Prisoner Scorpion: The Complete Collection, Nikkatsu Diamond Guys, Nikkatsu Diamond Guys 2... Their Black Society Trilogy Blu-ray deserves to be sitting on the same shelf. Absolutely recommended!   

Gary W. Tooze

 

 


Menus and Supplement Screens

 

Blu-ray One

 

Blu-ray Two

 

 

 

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

(aka 'Shinjuku Triad Society' or 'Shinjuku kuroshakai: Chaina mafia sens˘'')

directed by Takashi Miike
Japan 1995

 

Even viewers hardened to the perversities which tend to crop up in Japanese exploitation genres may find themselves rubbing their eyes at some of the images and incidents in Miike's extremist thriller about a Taiwanese triad gang muscling in on traditional yakuza territory in Tokyo. A near-psychotic 'lone wolf' from Shinjuku police station sets out to bust the Dragon's Claw gang for its involvement in drugs, body-parts trading, extortion racketeering and male prostitution; one obstacle is that his own (sexually ambivalent) younger brother is a legal adviser to the gang, which is fronted by a deranged gay sadist (Taguchi, from the Tetsuo films). Just when you think that a scene of sodomy - used as an aid to police interrogation - can't be topped, along comes an eye-gouging or another coke-fuelled blow job to keep things moving. Miike's stylish, gleeful direction establishes him as the most distinctive new 'voice' in the genre since Rokuro Mochizuki.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

Theatrical Release: August 26th, 1995 - Tokyo

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Bitrate:

 

 

  Shinjuku Triad Society (1995)
  Arrow Films

Runtime:

1:41:17.112

Disc Size:

47,901,213,489 bytes

Feature Size:

24,315,196,992 bytes

Video Bitrate:

28.00 Mbps - 1.85:1

Chapters:

12

Audio:

LPCM Audio Japanese 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION


 

(aka 'Rainy Dog' or 'Gokud˘ kuroshakai')

directed by Takashi Miike
Japan 1997

Miike's crush on Taiwan runs wild in this location-shot thriller about a yakuza hitman working for a triad gang boss in Taipei. Yuji (Aikawa) is in his bare apartment being cool and moody when an ex-girlfriend barges in to dump a boy she says is his son; the kid is left to fend for himself in the alley outside, and discovers what daddy does only when he tags along and sees Yuji shoot someone. The minimal plot is fleshed out by everyone's favourite Taiwanese character actors (including two of Hou Xiaoxian's original Boys from Fengkuei), and it never stops raining. Not only the definitive bad-parenting movie but also very likely the coolest rainsoaked lonely hitman movie ever made.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

Theatrical Release: June 28th, 1997

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Bitrate:

 

 

  Rainy Dog (1997)

Runtime:

1:34:24.367

Disc Size:

47,901,213,489 bytes

Feature Size:

22,655,671,680 bytes

Video Bitrate:

27.99 Mbps - 1.85:1

Audio:

LPCM Audio Japanese 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Optically Censored


(aka 'Ley Lines' or 'Nihon kuroshakai')

directed by Takashi Miike
Japan 1999

The final part of Miike's Triad Society trilogy offers a more street-level perspective on the tensions between Chinese and Japanese criminals than Shinjuku Triad Society or Rainy Dog. Three immigrant kids abandon their small town homes in rural Japan for the bright lights of Tokyo, where they suffer all the humiliations and setbacks of their kind and eventually come up against a psychotic Mr Big (guest star Takenaka at his most pervy). Miike characteristically minimises the sociological aspects and turns the film instead into a paean to romantic folly; the elegiac ending is up there with Pierrot le fou. The implication is that Japan itself is now the triad society, forcing those it denies 'membership' into desperate acts of love and crime.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

Theatrical Release: May 22nd, 1999

Reviews                                                         More Reviews                                            DVD Reviews

Bitrate:

 

 

 

Ley Lines (1999)

Runtime:

1:44:35.894

Disc Size:

42,181,575,385 bytes

Feature Size:

30,817,777,536 bytes

Video Bitrate:

34.98 Mbps - 1.85:1

Audio:

LPCM Audio Japanese 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

 CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Optical Censoring




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Gary Tooze

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