Young Thugs
Innocent Blood

Starring: Koji Chihara, Sarina Suzuki, and Yasushi Chihara
Artsmagic Ltd
RRP 19.99, US $24.95
ATU 011
Certificate: 18 (UK)/Not Rated (US)
Available 30 October 2004

Set in Kishiwada, a fishing district in the industrial town of Osaka, we follow three friends through their first year after leaving school. Having robbed their teacher on their last day at school, Ryoko gets a job at a hair salon, while the two boys settle down to a career of enforcement and protection...

A Takashi Miike film that is, to a degree, autobiographical, Young Thugs: Innocent Blood lives up to its title. A lot of blood gets splattered around, without anyone getting too badly hurt, or taking too much offence. This is a story of rough kids trying to find their way in the world, a world of violence, sentiment and comedy, in a film that moves at a cracking pace from the opening shot.

This is another of Miike's films that seem very much in his ball court. The locations, the story and the direction all feel like they must have been a breeze. You can't help but feel that it might have been too easy for him. The story itself is one seen so many times before. But as per usual with Miike, there are little surprises in store for the viewer.

Personally I feel that this film somehow lacks something that other Miike films have. Maybe it is because the subject matter is very close to the director's heart. Or maybe he just wanted to play it straight this time.

The extras on the disc include an interview with the director, trailer and filmographies of the cast and crew. Sadly this film is lacking the usual wonderful commentary by Tom Mes - must have been his day off. Good film, but not sure whether or not it's worth a purchase. Definitely a rental viewing.

Simon Lee

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