Being a cryptic psychosexual intrigue, Gozu delivers one of the most surreal and mind-boggling on-screen journeys the audiences will ever encounter. As bizarre as the film truly is, Takashi Miike was able to make a surprisingly compelling and satisfying flick out of a genre-bending, perverse, and totally unpredictable horror-comedy (though the comedic aspect is a challenging one). It’s a film that digs deep into the imagination of the viewer and stays there for a long time, tackling all that’s sick-and-twisted without any hesitation.
A temperamental and violent yakuza Ozaki (Shô Aikawa) is deemed mentally unstable after he makes a weird remark about a small dog outside of a restaurant, calling him ‘yakuza attack dog’. What’s more, he brutally kills the creature in front of the whole gang, hence upsetting the boss (Renji Ishibashi). Soon after that, one of his fellow comrades Minami (Hideki Sone) is assigned to drive Ozaki to Nagoya and get rid of him in a mysterious place ingeniously called ‘disposal site’. At first, he has second thoughts about the assignment, because of the long-lasting bond that’s formed between the two men. However, even before he can make the final decision, Minami needs to make a short stop in a nearly-desrted, run-down suburb of Nagoya in order to make a quick phone call.
This is when things begin to take a stupendously strange turn. Namely, Ozaki’s body disappears from the car, and that’s only the beginning of the whole chain of mysterious, mostly inexplicable events. After a superfluous confrontation with a few weird coffee-shop regulars, Minami runs into a guy named Nose (Shôhei Hino), who explains – in a rather secretive manner – that he might actually be able to help the man find his lost friend. In the meantime, the protagonist checks into a nearby inn for the night, encountering there an eccentric old lady with a quaint gift (her breasts are the source of tasty, fresh milk), who is also prone to torturing her mentally ill brother-helper. As Minami runs around town searching for Ozaki the reality that surrounds him gradually begins to change into a surreal, dream-like realm, where nothing can be explained in a proper manner. After a disturbing nightly meeting with a man equipped with a cow’s head (the title of the film means literally Yakuza Horror Theatre: Cow’s Head), Minami finally finds a clue that might lead him to Ozaki. Still, what he’s about to discover is really beyond imagination…
While Gozu aspires to be a deeply distressing and incomprehensible film, it surely brings out everything that’s best and brightest about Miike’s depraved mind. It’s a fantastical journey that doesn’t stop to perplex till the very end, misleading the audiences with its existentially-valid themes. I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who’s never before seen a Miike film, but for all the other hardcore fans it’s a must-see. Gozu is a splendid ride, a shocking and confusing one, and even though the narrative is a showcase of improvisation and chaos, Gozu still maintains an amazingly high level of awesomeness.