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STUDIO: AnimEigo
MSRP: $24.98
RATING: NR
RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES:
•    Behind the Scenes Special
•    Takashi Miike Interview
•    Image Gallery
•    Theatrical trailers


The Pitch

Takashi Miike goes to prison.

The Humans

Ryuhei Matsuda, Masanobu Ando, Shunsuke Kubozuka, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Jo Kanamori, Kenichi Endo, Renji Ishibashi, and Ryo Ishibashi

The Nutshell

Two young men, Jun Ariyoshi (Matsuda) and Shiro Kazuki (Ando), are sent to prison for murder on the same day.  A bond is formed between the two men.  One day, the jailers find Kazuki dead, Ariyoshi’s hands still wrapped around his throat.  The investigation into Kazuki’s death leads to many surprises.

The Lowdown

Big Bang Love, Juvenile A is a film that might baffle some people.  Par for the course when it comes to Takashi Miike, you might say.  Unlike something like Izo, the various pieces of Big Bang Love actually come together and make sense.  The murder investigation does little more than provide a through line for the casual viewer to grab a hold of and follow to the end of the film.  The outcome of the investigation is satisfying enough that you can walk away from the film with a sense of closure.  But what about all the weird shit?  What about the Mayan pyramid, the space shuttle, and that half-naked guy busting a move?

 
After hundreds of murders, countless rapes, and a couple jaywalking citations, the infamous Ticking Terror was finally behind bars.


Both Ariyoshi and Kazuki are stuck in the past.  The warden realizes this and tells them to live in the present.  Ariyoshi obsesses about his crime or Kazuki (most of the flashbacks in the film belong to Ariyoshi).  Kazuki is still the little boy who would steal jam-filled bread from the corner market, a point made by Miike when he swaps Ando with the younger actor in a few scenes.  He’s also haunted by his past crimes (he raped the warden’s wife and she committed suicide).  They’re both in jail for murder.  The brutality of their crimes continued long after the victim is incapacitated.  They both are aware of the connection they share, though Ariyoshi seems to dwell on it more than Kazuki does.  It’s the similarities that draw the two men together, but it’s the differences that end up separating them.

The shuttle leads to space, the great unknown, and represents death.  The pyramid is a symbol of the past and leads to heaven.  What is there to do in heaven besides relive the past?  You’re reunited with all your friends and family, some of whom you haven’t seen in a long time.  When you’re reunited with someone you haven’t seen in a while, a lot of time is spent reminiscing about the past; “do you remember the time…”.  Asked where he would rather go, Kazuki answers space.  Ariyoshi chooses heaven, but says that he’d rather go with Kazuki.  Kazuki asks Ariyoshi, “where to?”, and Miike cuts to a prisoner trying to escape and getting fried by the electric fence.  The charred remains, crumbling to ash, gives us the answer.  It isn’t until he learns that the warden’s wife’s ghost doesn’t want him to grieve for her anymore and Ariyoshi shows him the three-tiered rainbow and a little tenderness, that something clicks and Kazuki is willing to break away from the past and get on the shuttle, freeing him.  Ariyoshi blames himself for Kazuki’s death, giving him yet another thing to obsess about and to tie him to the past.


“I pledge allegiance to Mola Ram.”


The “Tropics” sequence at the beginning of the film condenses both Kazuki and Ariyoshi’s stories down to a few scenes.  It involves an old man telling a young boy (Ariyoshi) that it’s time to become a man.  He asks the boy whom he would emulate besides his father.  The boy whispers in the old man’s ear and Miike cuts to a young man with a tattoo covering his back and down his right arm.  Later we see Kazuki with the tattoo.  Ariyoshi also confesses that he want to be like Kazuki.  The old man tells the boy that the tattooed man will show him what to do after purifying himself in the ocean.  Then the tattooed man follows the edict laid down by Young MC.  The dance consists of violent movements and ends with the young man collapsing to the ground, mirroring Kazuki’s violent outbursts and eventual death.   The sequence ends with the young boy standing before the tattooed man, with the moon in the background.  The man holds out his hand, ready to lead the boy into the unknown.  The boy stands frozen with fear.  The same reaction Ariyoshi has to the past.

Takashi Miike and screenwriter Masa Nakamura have crafted a film that has the ability to (maybe) satisfy a casual viewer and has enough clues that an interpretation to what it all means can be pretty easily jerry-rigged.  The clues are ambiguous enough that no one interpretation is necessarily better or more correct than any other.  The boy in the “Tropics” sequence could be Kazuki rather than Ariyoshi (the rain during the scene with the rainbow purifying Kazuki and making him ready for the next step).  You could place more emphasis on the violence or the sexual attraction Ariyoshi has for Kazuki.  It all adds up to one of Miike’s more satisfying films.

The Package

Between Miike’s quote on this cover and David Lynch’s on the complete Twin Peaks set, filmmakers are becoming the new Pete Hammond.  I can’t wait until Uwe Boll gets his own pull-quote.  Maybe make use of greeting card technology and work in audio.  Boll can scream “greater than Kane!” or “call me Doctor, goddammit!” when you open the case. 


One of the dangers of living in Japan: facing down incoming kaiju poo.


The feature and the special features could have all fit on one disc, but it’s spread across two.  The behind-the-scenes piece runs about forty minutes and features the cast talking about the script (which seemed to make no sense to anybody) and working with Miike.  The Miike interview is tough to sit through.  The camerawork is incredibly bland and Miike talks in circles for the most part, not really saying anything worthwhile.  Though he does an interesting tidbit every now and then.  The image gallery has a bunch of stills from the film, a mini poster, and some promotional postcards.  Rounding out the extras are three teasers and the trailer for Big Bang Love plus additional trailers for Miike’s Graveyard of Honor, The Wolves, Ashura, and A Hardest Night.

8.5 out of 10