30 August 2004 | Demogorgo
If you've seen Agitator or Kikoku, you know exactly what to expect.
Rekka is a movie that deals with the theme of backstabbing and diplomacy of the new Yakuza clashing against the violence and honor of the old Yakuza; a common theme in Miike's under-the-radar gangster movies. It begins when the protagonist's father, the leader of a crime family, is killed. Before he knows what's happening, the new boss of his gang is already making agreements and accepting the murder to avoid a full-scale gang war. Needless to say, the son isn't happy, so he seeks revenge on the rival crime family. Knowing this, the new boss tries to get rid of him so that he can enjoy his new place in the Yakuza hierarchy.
On its own, this is an exciting modern Yakuza thriller filled with bloodshed and intrigue. But if you're already a Miike fan, you might be let down by a few details.
Rekka follows a pretty distinct formula. It has the same plot ideas, nearly the same characters, some of the same actors, and the same filmmakers as Agitator and Kikoku (which came out later). While Miike changes up the style and feel of each one, it still looks like he made three different versions of the same movie. Shigenori Takechi, the screenwriter of all three, has to be the laziest guy in the film industry. You see the same characters doing the same things, only with different names and settings. Like the other movies, the protagonist is a seemingly invincible and honorable guy who just can't seem to get killed no matter what he does. There is a charismatic and equally invincible hit-man chasing him. There are greedy and cowardly superiors that only he can stand up to. There is a dethroned and deceased father figure that he wants to avenge. And of course, there is a love interest that appears for a few minutes combined and has no personality or reason to even be in this movie.
The way that this movie is different is that the feel is a little more intense and modern than the other two. The visuals and camera-work are comparatively better and do a much better job of grabbing your attention. It is not as slow-paced and complicated as Agitator (clearly the best of the three), and it's all-around better than Kikoku (the worst). The ending is the most unique part. For better or worse, it is incredibly strange, and I know that some people will like it. Rekka appears to have the largest budget of the three movie and is the easiest to understand; it's definitely the one to show to your friends.
Like those two other movies, there are no insane shocker moments or incredible gore effects that will stick in your head forever. Rekka has almost nothing in common with Ichi or Fudoh, for example, so new fans of Miike's work might not get what they expect. But it has more than its share of violence, just not enough to make your head spin.
On it's own, Rekka is definitely not a waste of time, and my criticism doesn't sound fair at all. However, the feeling is ruined when you've seen Agitator and/or Kikoku. Seeing these movies after each other in a short span of time left me with a feeling that I got from Graveyard of Honor, another Miike/Takechi product. But in that case, it only took one movie to make me feel uncomfortable by giving me the same message over and over again.