HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Hellboy
Pond Life
Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, The
Third Wife, The
Shazam!
Follow Me
Leto
Fugitive Girls
Missing Link
Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, The
Pet Sematary
Oh... Rosalinda!!
Dumbo
Kaleidoscope
Night Is Short, Walk On Girl
Knight of Shadows: Between Yin and Yang, The
Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich
Klute
Meow
Killer Crocodile
Nutcracker Prince, The
Secret World of Og, The
Benjamin
Fifth Cord, The
Man Could Get Killed, A
Cyborg 009: Kaiju War
Heavy Trip
Nightmare Weekend
Blue Ice
Great Scout & Cathouse Thursday, The
Incident, The
Hell's Angels
Heaven and Earth
Flatliners
Us
mid90s
Holiday
Lovin' Molly
Manhunt in the City
Click: The Calendar Girl Killer
   
 
Newest Articles
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
The Comedy Stylings of Kurt Russell: Used Cars and Captain Ron
Robot Rocked: The Avengers Cybernauts Trilogy on Blu-ray
Hammer's Bloodthirsty Bad Girls 1970: Lust for a Vampire and Countess Dracula
Hammer to Fall: Kiss Me Deadly on Blu-ray
Home of the Grave: The House That Dripped Blood and Asylum on Blu-ray
Wondrous Women: Supergirl vs Captain Marvel
Things Have Changed: Films You'd Be Insane to Make Now
The Hole in the Ground: Director Lee Cronin Interview
She's Missing: Director Alexandra McGuinness Interview
Woo's the Boss: Last Hurrah for Chivalry & Hand of Death on Blu-ray
Get Ahead in Showbiz: Expresso Bongo and It's All Happening
Outer Space and Outta Sight: Gonks Go Beat on Blu-ray
Tucked: The Derren Nesbitt Interview
   
 
  Wild Life Buy this film here.
Year: 1997
Director: Shinji Aoyama
Stars: Kosuke Toyohara, Yuna Natsuo, Mickey Curtis, Akiko Izumi, Jun Kunimura, Eiko Nagashima, Yoichiro Saito
Genre: Comedy, Thriller, Romance, Weirdo
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Wild Life is that rare form of comedy-thriller – one that actually gets funnier and lighter as it progresses. Usually a need to develop and resolve the storyline means that the drama overtakes the humour, but here director Shinji Aoyama throws a curveball by gradually turning a generic gangster movie into something far more inventive and entertaining.

Kosuke Toyohara plays Hiroki, an ex-boxer who now leads a solitary, regimented life. For five years he has observed the same rituals throughout the day – jogging each morning, two beers at 7pm sharp and so on – and works nights repairing pachinko gaming machines for games parlour owner Tsumura (Mickey Curtis). Tsumura is a father figure to Hiroki, and it is his involvement with gangsters that leads the younger man into a strange world of blackmail, mistaken identity, unrequited love and possible murder.

Like Twin Peaks or Repo Man filtered through the eyes of Takeshi Kitano, Wild Life takes ordinary subject matter and turns it into something far greater. For a start, Aoyama has no interest in telling his story in any sort of linear fashion. The first third is immensely confusing, as the director flashes forward and back, sometimes starting one scene, cutting to something else before returning to finish it ten minutes later. The film is divided into 13 seemingly randomly inserted chapters, and it takes some concentration to keep up with all the characters. Aside from Hiroki and Tsumura, there’s Mizoguchi, a former employee of Tsumura who has disappeared, Tsumura’s daughter Rei who has taken a liking to Hiroki, a Yakuza who is eager to retrieve a package he believes Mizoguchi has given to Hiroki, plus assorted cops, crooks and estranged spouses.

It almost seems as if Aoyama is mocking this too-familiar genre by making this initial half-hour overly confusing and playing it with a straight face. He slowly introduces subtle shifts in tone – during one conversation about the music of Gershwin, we notice the score has taken on a playful, jazzy feel that remains for the rest of the film. Hiroki has an encounter with a Yakuza thug that resolves in an unexpected way – the one-time boxer knocks out this towering thug with two shift blows. There’s a superb sequence as Kiroki, Rei, plus Tsumura’s wife and Mizoguchi’s ex-mistress speed through the city, the camera sliding towards and away from the characters as we hear their thoughts on a voiceover. And as the film progresses, Hiroki transforms from a quiet, shy loner to a proper movie hero – wooing the ladies and fearlessly facing up to the bad guys.

Like Howard Hawks’ similarly densely-plotted The Big Sleep, Wild Life is a film that ultimately puts style above story, creating any number of fascinating scenes and characters without ever making the film ‘gripping’ in the way thrillers are supposed to be. It’s full of technical trickery – in one scene, Hiroki walks into a sepia-tinged flashback and addresses the camera, and in another, the camera revolves dizzyingly around a police interrogation, the interviewee changing each time the camera passes by. There’s also a hilarious death-by-soda can, filmed in a way that would make Sam Raimi proud. Aoyama has gone on to make more accomplished, better regarded films, but few as purely entertaining as this irreverent, knockabout gem.

[Artsmagic DVD is available in Region 1 and Region 2, and includes an interview with Shinji Aoyama, audio commentary by Jasper Sharo and filmographies]
Reviewer: Daniel Auty

 

This review has been viewed 3299 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Shinji Aoyama  (1964 - )

Japanese director best known his acclaimed 2000 film Eureka, a hypnotic, sprawling drama that was a prize-winner at Cannes. Other offbeat work includes the thrillers Wild Life and Lakeside Murder Case, dark drama Desert Moon and the gruesome Embalming.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
Enoch Sneed
  Derrick Smith
Darren Jones
   

 

Last Updated: