Dead or Alive

Dead or Alive

(Dead or Alive : Hanzaisha)

Takashi Miike

  • 1999
  • Japan
  • Action / Crime / Drama
  • 1h45mn
  • Original version with French subtitles
  • Color
New 4K master
Policeman Jojima wages a merciless war against thug Ryuichi, who is trying to gain control of Japanese crime in the Shinjuku district.
In 2001, with a first retrospective in France, L’Étrange Festival had its awed audience discover a genius, provocative, punk and eclectic filmmaker. His name: Takeshi Miike. Dead or Alive (1999), the first part of a yakuza trilogy, belongs to the most unhinged part of his work: violent, tragic, funny, cartoonish. Narration ceases to exist, swallowed by chaos and hysteria. A noir film on acid, Dead or Alive constantly constructs and deconstructs itself, proclaiming Miike’s creative freedom and an almost playful relationship with death.

Gareth Evans

Takashi Miike. Surely the most prolific, daring filmmaker out there. He makes films on his own terms and throws absolutely everything at them. But it’s not to be mistaken for ill discipline as Miike is always in control of the worlds his films inhabit - even in something as anarchic as Dead or Alive a film that will grab you by the throat from its first frame and drag you to hell with it by the time you reach it’s unforgettable climax.

And it was that opening sequence that blew my mind apart as a twenty-something audience member who, at that point, was only familiar with Miike’s slow-burn nightmare fuel of “Audition”. Nothing could have prepared me for what came next.

Our two leads (played by Sho Aikawa and Riki Takeuchi) literally count us in. One. Two. Before you can begin to question why both our protagonist and antagonist are sat along the docks together - they continue counting.

One. Two. Three. Four! And blam!

A title card splashes across the screen only to be taken over by the sight and sounds of someone screaming as they fall from the sky plunging to their death right into the heart of Shinjuku’s infamous Kabukicho district. A place where it seems around every corner and down every side street awaits more debauchery and violence for Miike to parade in staccato cuts all edited to the pummelling force of the late, great Chu Ishikawa’s unforgettable score.

Famously Miike took what was written and presented as linear scenes in the original script and turned it into a punk rock montage of the most sordid violent intent. Miike smashes the boundaries of what is allowed to happen in cinema. It’s not a case of there being no rules - it’s more that in his V-Cinema confines Miike has the freedom to explore his style of filmmaking with such command that it makes it both exciting and terrifying to step into his world.

And we should consider ourselves so lucky to have him there to drive us right through it.


09/09 • 22h00 • Screen 300
Screening presented by Gareth Evans



  • With : Riki Takeuchi, Shô Aikawa, Renji Ishibashi, Hitoshi Ozawa, Shingo Tsurumi
  • Screenplay : Toshiki Kimura (as Ichiro Ryu)
  • Photography : Hideo Yamamoto
  • Editing : Yasushi Shimamura
  • Music by : Kôji Endô
  • Production : Makoto Okada, Katsumi Ono, Toshiki Kimura, Mitsuru Kurosawa, Tsutomu Tsuchikawa