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Ley Lines
cast: Kazuki Kitamura, Tomorowo Taguchi, and Dan Li

director: Takashi Miike

105 minutes (unrated) 1999
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Artsmagic NTSC DVD Region 1 retail

RATING: 10/10
reviewed by Shiraz Rahim
Excited as I was to see Ley Lines, I was equally as sad to see the end of it. After a series of three amazingly directed movies, this film sums up Miike's pure artistic genius and serves as a high note to finish his Black Society Trilogy.

The film begins with the attempt by three Sino-Japanese youths in Japan to flee the country by acquiring passports. Ryuichi (Kazuki Kitamura) is the leader of this trio that also involves Ryuich''s much more diffident brother, Shunrei, and best friend, Chan (played wonderfully by Tomorowo Taguchi who, I suppose, is a popular actor with Miike, and one of the few actors who is in all three of the films in this trilogy). Failing to obtain these passports legally, they decide to enter the underground world of Shinjuku and obtain them illegally. There, they meet a prostitute, Anita (Dan Li), who robs the trio of the little money they possess. The three thus join the town's Chinese mafia selling drugs in hopes of making some profits and escaping the country. The three soon run into Anita, again and they make plans - involving robbing the leader of the Chinese mafia - to gather enough money to flee to Brazil. Of course, in typical Miike style reminiscent of Rainy Dog, the four find themselves fleeing from the mobsters as they attempt to escape Japan.

This film is another typical Miike film involving major themes of prostitution, identity crises, a sense of belonging, and loneliness, etc, while its still ranks high with Miike's signature violence and sexual content. And for those who see this plot as originally very similar to the plot of Rainy Dog, Miike manages to add originality to his work with an ending that is purely demiurgic and entertaining (though, of course, I won't explain it here). The greatness of the film comes from the same elements that the other films in the Black Society Trilogy possess (i.e. the usual Miike-ness) as well as new twists and a slightly new plot that, although similar to some of Miike's other films (obviously particularly Rainy Dog), is fully capable of standing out on its own as a wonderful piece of cinematic mastery.

As for extras, the film is no different from its two predecessors. Another few commentaries by actors in the film and interviews with Miike and his editor are among the highlights, along with trailers and filmographies and biographies for the actors and director. Finally, the disc also includes the same interview with Tom Mes which appeared on the Shinjuku disc, though this time obviously the commentary focuses on the symbolism and Miike elements present in this film and relates them to the director's other works. In sum, this disc is nothing special in terms of extras, at least compared to other Miike films, but for people newly introduced to the director's work, the interviews and commentaries are probably very helpful, insightful, and interesting.

And so, the glorious trilogy comes to a close. Miike has again presented a work that I'm sure he is proud of and proves that he possesses the skills necessary to create great movies. After watching Shinjuku Triad Society and Rainy Dog, I was sceptical of Miike's ability to top these two successes with a triumphant close, but I'm extremely glad that my fears have been abated with this fantastic and wonderful finish to the amazing and extremely entertaining trilogy.

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