Smuggler / スマグラー
In the contemporary flirtation with busting down genre walls there are some directors, like Jonathan Demme, who are so good that they take the viewer to some wild places. There are lesser filmmakers who throw shit against the wall just to see if it sticks. Katsuhito Ishii (Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl), director of Smuggler throws shit, blood, spit and whatever against the walls and ends up with a rather unpleasant mess of a film. Beginning in a triad-y gangster story, going into Matrix-y affected chop-socky and ending up in gratuitous torture porn, Smuggler not only has no idea where it’s going, it gets there with abusively bad taste, clichéd effects and buckets of blood. Ishii taken an otherwise solid cast and lets them run with their worst and easiest crutches. For example, Satoshi Tsumabuki, usually working his natural bewildered face to reveal the souls of his mixed up characters just looks confused as he goes through increasing degradation. Ishii’s early critically lauded films are due for serious reassessment in light of Smuggler.
Originally published in EL Magazine, October 2011.