1 out of 5
Directed by: Takashi Miike
I’ve seen the good, I’ve seen some bad, and now: I’ve definitely seen the ugly.
Takashi Miike’s earliest films, prior to his cinematic releases, are almost all of a certain base level, done as work-for-hire pieces with moments that show his forthcoming interests and style, but not necessarily notable on their own. That is, they are relevant as part of an oeuvre, but probably wouldn’t have been worthy of followup attentions had the director not significantly evolved thereafter, allowing one to trace his developments back through such works. There’s some trashy and low quality stuff in the mix here, but even without squinting, once you’re familiar with Miike’s tropes, they’re there as far back as his first couple flicks, so there’s merit for the dedicated.
A Human Murder Weapon does have one bit or two that applies to that statement – some bodily fluids; a flash or two of pairing shots of a child against shots of violence; a dreamlike sense of shot structure in the first part – although that seems entirely accidental here – but it’s also one of the few of Miike’s movies that feels wholly lazy in execution, and downright exploitative in its ‘let’s strip the women naked’ scenes. If there is one thing to note, it’s that this was Miike’s first pairing with screenwriter / lump-of-a-film-presence Hasao Maki, and it would seem to set a precedent for their pairings hereafter.
The movie is only 70s minute long, but after 15 minutes, I was looking at the clock. ‘A Human Murder Weapon’ is about a badass fighter (displaying his moves in unenergetic, choreographed-at-the-moment sequences) who likes to go around challenging people to fight, then has a baby with a chick just so he can challenge her father, then gets caught up in an underground fight ring that his baby mama and dojo master Hasao have to help him fight his way out of. I’ll allow that that’s plenty of plot for some B-movie distraction, but calling it a “plot” is very generous – it’s more like a spattering of a few lines and scenes, and then some women fighters who, as mentioned, get stripped and displayed whilst in the ring. Character work is also nonexistent, given that I think we’re supposed to side with this fighter when he’s clearly a garbage person, and Maki’s bit comes out of nowhere, just so he can show off some fighting moves as well.
No movie is a waste of time, and every Miike movie has some small bit of interest when viewed in terms of his career… but this movie is a waste of time, and it provides no interest when viewed in terms of his career.