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Takashi Miike was born in the small town of Yao on the outskirts of Osaka, Japan in late August 1960. Growing up in what he describes as 'a very bad area', he was never very enthralled by the prospect of school, teachers or anything else that made him do something he didn't feel like. During his time at school he spent most of his time anywhere but on campus, frequently leaving to go and watch Bruce Lee movies. He especially liked ones that had motorbikes in them, this fascination grew and by the time he was 16 he had set his mind on becoming a professional rider. When he was 17 he was trying to make ends meet as a rider, "I was one of the top three riders in my area, but then I tried to get a professional license and found out there was a lot of competition, so I sort of lost interest," he says of his attempts. By that time school was over, however he had no academic prospects and quite frankly not much interest in them either. One day he heard an advert on the radio for The Yokohama Academy Of Visual Arts(founded by renowned director Shohei Imamura) - they said there were no entrance exams and that they would accept anyone.

At 18, he eventually did enroll, but spent almost as little time there as he had at school. “A lot of times, I didn’t study too much, I went to the movies, instead. Movies ultimately helped me in two ways. They gave me escapism and enjoyment, and later on, they also gave me a livelihood.” One day a local TV production company came scouting for unpaid production assistants, the school very kindly nominated their one student who was never there anyway. He ended up not going back to the college and spent almost a decade working in television. Eventually he wound up being hired as an assistant director by one Shohei Imamura. "He taught me what a director needed to be," Takashi says of his mentor to be.

Japan had always had a strong V-Cinema or Direct To Video(DTV) market, but in the early 90's it really boomed and this proved to be Takashi's break into directing his own films. There were many new production companies looking for young, cheap directors to make low-budget action and horror movies, he was among those who was chosen. From then on it was incredibly easy to find work as a director-for-hire in the video market place. In 1995 Miike directed his first 16mm, theatrically released feature - 'Shinjuku Triad Society'. The film earned him a Best New Director nomination from the Director's Guild Of Japan and was successful enough to eventually spawn two sequels ('Rainy Dog'(1997)/'Ley Lines'(1999)).

Ever since that time he has alternated between higher budgeted theatrically released pictures, DTV movies, TV shows, music videos, movie trails and 'Muraokoshi' - films that are produced by regional government to promote tourism. Indeed the director never seems to stop, to date he has directed over 60 movies in his 14 year career. No one seems to be exactly sure of the number, and even he won't quite answer the question. "A British writer recently told me that I had made 52 movies. I was surprised. I don’t start out thinking, let’s make a lot of movies. The numbers don’t mean much to me." What is certain is that he has the largest body of work of any director living and working today, he is still coming out with 4 or 5 films a year and is showing no signs of slowing down. "One day the world will be covered in old video-tapes all with my movies on them," he has been heard to say along with his trademark grin.

His movies have always been very provocative(some would say exploitive/disguising/grotesque) and based on extreme and graphic violence and sexual taboos. However it was only in 1999 that the rest of world was let into this world with 'Audition', his first international release. The film received a strong reaction on the festival circuit, some calling it the most disgusting and violent cinema ever to be produced while others heralded the arrival of a brave new talent. When told about the mass walk-outs at some festivals he responded thus, "That’s a very natural reaction, there are some audiences that don’t want to see that kind of thing. However, there are also people who stayed there. They made some connection. That’s important to me. I just don't understand someone who could walk out on a movie.”

However there was a distinct voice among both critics and festival goers to see more of his work, many began comparing his twisted visual aesthetic to that of David Lynch or David Cronenburg. With all the sudden interest a line-up of his films became announced for release in the UK and elsewhere. However, the first thing to pop out his bag of tricks was 'Ichi The Killer', anyone who thought Audition was bad would probably have keeled over and died when they saw what was presented in this movie. When it was presented to the BBFC for classification they balked at first, but then after 3 minutes of cuts which removed all most all of the violence against women they passed it, with a rather unusual view on it. Although it has been acknowledged that his films are violent in the extreme, they are almost never very realistic. It was eventually decided that "the gruesome retinue of torture, mutilation and carnage goes too far beyond the pale to provoke anything other than laughter."

After that a couple more of his movies were shown internationally (notably 'Dead or Alive' and 'Agitator'), almost exclusively at festivals, although some did get very limited theatrical releases. So it seems all critics views of his movies are based on a rather small sample considering the number of films he's made. "It's very interesting to me that the movies selected by European and American film festivals and critics always seem to be my most violent ones. But if people think I just make one violent movie after another that's OK, because I really enjoy making movies."

He likes to work with scripts that are under-written, or as other people might say, badly-written. But he explains that he likes to find scripts that have many good ideas but are only say 60% finished because then he can fill in the gaps as he feels is right for the movie. Example: 'Dead or Alive' starts out as a relatively simple story about a grudge between a criminal and a cop, it gradually escalates and it's not long before all hell breaks loose - they meet up in a bizarre bazooka battle and destroy the whole planet. The reason? "I thought the original ending was a bit to boring." And he is quick to point out that he is very scared of repetition and even though his themes may often be similar he is trying to invoke a different feeling through either the story or the visuals. "“Some times, I make love and romance. Other times, I want to do action movies. Then I feel kind of guilty. Too much action. Then I think, maybe I should put action and romance together.” This is another one of his trademarks - total defiance of anything even resembling genres. Pick any three genres out of a hat and you're pretty much guaranteed to find them all in the same Miike film. This leads to situations such as a scene in 'The Happiness Of The Katakuris' where all the deceased suddenly get up and plunge into a lively musical number that was apparently inspired by "the family values in films like 'The Sound Of Music'".

Strange as it may sound, the director marks this as a film he really admires. Perhaps when you consider his love of all types of music it seems to make a bit more sense. "My inspiration for scenes always comes from music. For example in 'Dead or Alive", I listened to the soundtrack of the film “Spawn”, which inspired the fast pacing. It gave something to me, an aggressive attitude.* My musical preferences are very different day by day.” *Understatement of note! The film manages to set up back-story with lap-dancers, gleeful cocaine snorting, a restaurant shooting and a horrific gay bathroom murder all in the space of about 5 minutes ending with the dead man's last dinner all over the camera.

At present there are only a few of his films available on DVD, 'Audtion', 'Ichi The Killer' and 'Fudoh: The New Generations' although it is expected that many more will be available shortly. Despite the fact that Miike speaks no English he is always ready with an interpreter to give interviews. His answers always show his love of film and his work, even if they don't always tell you what you want to know. For example, when asked which movies he would like people to be introduced to him with he simply replies, "Previous movies are very good for me, and they give me good memories. But what I want American audiences to see are my next movies.”

In an attempt to shed some light on which films he has actually directed and how many there are, here follows what should be a pretty accurate list of his work - as a director that is - if we were to go into all the other positions he's held we'd be here all night!

"It wasn't really my intention to make movies quickly - it's more to do with the reality of the Japanese film industry. That's been the only way for me to change my situation; to prove how little time you need to make a good film. I really enjoy working with limitations or restrictions. And if I find a space within the movie to express myself, I'm very happy. I am discovering myself as a director all the time. That's the great thing about Japanese cinema which makes many people look down on it, is that there is a general indifference to the so called art of cinema. But sometimes this is good because it means I don't have to work under the microscope - I can make films in any style I fancy. Am I proud of being Japanese? Yes and no, many people advised me to go to Hollywood after Audition was well-received in the States, but I am happy, and feel fortunate to be making movies where I was born."

Eyecatch Junction - Topuu! Minipato Tai(video)
Lady Hunter - Koroshi No Prelude (video)
Last Run - Ai To Uragari No Hyaku-oku Yen (TV)

A Human Murder Weapon: Ningen Kyoki - Ai To Ikari No Ringu (video)

Bodyguard Kiba (video)
Oretachi Wa Tenshi (Katagi) Ja Nai (video)
Oretachi Wa Tenshi (Katagi) Ja Nai 2 (video)

Bodyguard Kiba: Shura No Mokushiroku (video)
Shinjuku Outlaw (video)

Bodyguard Kiba: Shura No Mokushiroku 2 (video)
Shinjuku Triad Society - Shinjuku Kuroshakai: China Mafia Senso
Daisan No Gokudo (video)
Naniwa Yukyoden (video)
Naniwa Kinyuden - Minami No Teio Special Gekijyoban (as producer only)

Fudoh: The New Generations - Gokudo Sengokushi: Fudoh
Shin Daisan No Gokudo - Boppatsu Kansai Gokudo Wars (video)
Shin Daisan No Gokudo 2 (video)
Jingi Naki Yabo (video)
Jingi Naki Yabo 2 (video)
Peanuts - Rakkasei (video)
Kenka No Hanamichi - Osaka Saikyo Densetsu (video)

Kishiwada Shonen Gurentai - Chikemuri Junjo-Hen
Full Metal Yakuza - Full Metal Gokudo (video)
Rainy Dog - Gokudo Kuroshakai

The Bird People in China - Chugoku No Chojin
Kishiwada Shonen Gurentai - Boukyo-Hen
Blues Harp
Yomigaeru Kinro 2 - Fukkatsu-hen (as actor only)

Ley Lines - Nihon Kuroshakai
Silver (video)
Dead or Alive - Dead or Alive - Hanzaisha
Tennen Shojo Man (TV series, 3 episodes)
Kintaro, the White-Collar Worker - Salaryman Kintaro
Tennen Shojo Man Next (TV series, 2 episodes)

Audition - Odishon
The City of Lost Souls - Hyoryu Gai
Dead or Alive 2: Birds - Dead or Alive 2: Tobosha
MPD-Psycho - Taijyu Jinkaku Tantei Saiko - Amamiya Kazuhiko No Kikan (TV series, 6 episodes)
The Making of Gemini - Tsukamoto Shinya Ga Rampo Suru (video)
Isola (as actor only)

Visitor Q
Family 2 (video)
The Guys From Paradise - Tengoku Kara Kita Otoko-tachi
Ichi the Killer - Koroshiya 1
The Security Women Affair - Nikutai Keibiin Sakareta Seifuku (as actor only)
Dead or Alive - Final
The Happiness of the Katakuris - Katakurike No Kofuku
Agitator - Araburu Tamashii Tachi (also as actor)
Kikuchi-jô monogatari - sakimori-tachi no uta
Zuiketsu gensô - Tonkararin yume densetsu

Zuido Gensou - Tonkararin Yume Densetsu
Kikuchi-jou Monogatari - Sakimori-tachi No Uta
Onna Kunishu Ikki
Sabu (TV)
Graveyard of Honour - Shin Jingi No Hakaba
Shangri-La - Togenkyo No Hitobito
Pandora (music video)
Deadly Outlaw: Rehha - Jitsuroku Andô Noboru kyôdô-den: Rekka

You've Got A Call - Chakushin Ari
Kôshônin (TV)
Kikoku (Video)
Gokudô kyôfu dai-gekijô: Gozu
The Man In White - Yurusarezaru Mono

Izô: Kaosu mataha fujôri no kijin


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