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The Independent Critic

Riki Takeuchi, Show Aikawa
Takashi Miike
Equiv. to "R"
105, 97 & 89 Mins.
Arrow Films (Blu-ray/DVD)

 Miike's "Dead or Alive" Trilogy Gets Arrow Release 
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Takashi Miike's Dead or Alive films are cohesive in tone yet the three films are also incredibly distinct adventures connected only by their two main actors. The trilogy features many of Miike's most outrageous moments alongside some of his most noteworthy dramatic and emotionally resonant work. The films were made between 1999-2002 and have now been given the Arrow Video treatment that ensures a worthy legacy for all three films and one of Japanese cinema's most talented and innovative contemporary filmmakers. 

"In Dead or Alive, tough gangster Ryuichi (Riki Takeuchi) and his ethnically Chinese gang make a play to take over the drug trade in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district by massacring the competition. But he meets his match in detective Jojima (Show Aikawa), who will do everything to stop them. Dead or Alive 2: Birds casts Aikawa and Takeuchi together again, but as new characters, a pair of rival yakuza assassins who turn out to be childhood friends; after a botched hit, they flee together to the island where they grew up, and decide to devote their deadly skills to a more humanitarian cause. And in Dead or Alive: Final, Takeuchi and Aikawa are catapulted into a future Yokohama ruled by multilingual gangs and cyborg soldiers, where they once again butt heads in the action-packed and cyberpunk-tinged finale to the trilogy."

The collection, as is always true with Arrow releases, includes a wealth of extras including:


• High Definition digital transfers of all three films

• Original stereo audio

• Optional English subtitles for all three films

• New interview with actor Riki Takeuchi

• New interview with actor Sho Aikawa

• New interview with producer and screenwriter Toshiki Kimura

• New audio commentary for Dead or Alive by Miike biographer Tom Mes

• Archive interviews with cast and crew

• Archive making-of featurettes for DOA2: Birds and DOA: Final

• Original theatrical trailers for all three films

• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Orlando Arocena

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the films by Kat Ellinger

The extras in Arrow's packaging of the Dead or Alive films are worth the price of the DVD/Blu-ray packaging alone. It seems like every single time I sit down with an Arrow package, I find myself wondering why other distributors can't do this on a consistent basis. Miike biographer Tom Mes's audio commentary is a tremendous resource for those who seek a deeper appreciation of Miike's films, while the new interviews with Takeuchi and Aikawa companion Mes's commentary and are entertaining and informative themselves. Kat Ellinger's essay and included artwork, along with the obligatory archival documentation, all make this a "must have" for Miike fans. 

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic

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