For Love's Sake Review

The Film

Where would we be without rules? Association football would be all goal hanging if there wasn't the offside law, Cricket would be full of chuckers and well, bankers could just be thieves, couldn't they? Similarly personal dictums are important in living a safe, happy life as well, and right next to my one about the blasphemy of Phil Collins performing career, sits the no musicals for Johnny rule. This was learnt from bitter experience...having shouty musicals (operas) crammed down my lugholes as a young man and making the mistake of watching West Side Story as an impressionable schoolboy. As the cinematic Jets faced off against the other lot, I realised that tough street gangs don't prance about before a street fight - it just didn't compute.imageThere's been exceptions along the way, three in fact. South Park is just nasty enough to carry off the form, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is so naturalist and heartbraking and The Happiness of the Katakuris… well it's Zombies, mayhem and the great Takashi Miike. And it is on his account that here I am reviewing a musical, worse still a romantic, star crossed lovers kind of musical with dancing and synchronised fights and simpering heroines. After his updating of samurai epics and some meh work on the likes of Ace Attorney, can the man who kicked the reanimated corpse of this genre into life with the Katakuris overcome my severe reservations?

Beginning and ending with short animated clips to explain the origin of Makoto and Ai's acquaintance, For Love's Sake owns its manga roots with the real action frequently boosted by heightened colouring and hyper real action. We meet a very Miike hero in Makoto, a working class rebel with a cause, scarred by the past both figuratively and physically, and Ai, a wealthy ingenue, again in young adulthood. Makoto is introduced with a marvellously choreographed hyper violent riot and Ai's twee background is contrasted and sent up against it.imageConvinced she is responsible for ruining Makoto's life and deeply taken by the now young man, Ai uses her connections to get him out of prison and into her privileged school. Degradation and harsh words fail to shake her from his life and finally Blackmail succeeds in achieving Makoto's expulsion from the good life and a return to dangerous comprehensive education where gang wars and his revenge are simpler than Ai's attentions.

Makoto's outsider status and one-man crusade recall many of the director's early protagonists as he explored identity and developed himself from iconoclast to the commercial prolific film-maker he now is. The film avoids sentimentality and almost paints Ai as an entitled stalker in its pains to do so, reserving more sympathy for the poorer, more violent and frequently abusive characters. The reveal of the piece's villain is a superb mini film recalling previous work like Box and showing Miike has also learned stagecraft from his theatrical adventures as well.imageIf anything, For Love's Sake offers plenty of clues to the director's influences. Rushing fights, edited tighter than the eye can see recall Fukasaku and the lush, camp and satiric presentation reminded me a great deal of Seijun Suzuki's work on A Tale of Sorrow and Sadness. Above all, the film shows the director's passion for respecting the margins and keeping the power of so-called lesser artforms - this is the umpteenth manga adaptation of his career which began in V-Cinema and now sees him entered into competition at Cannes.

Still, why I enjoyed it is this is all so knowing and almost an anti-musical. As Makoto tries to rescue Ai in the climax he graphically punches out an army of schoolgirls - now that never happened in West Side Story...

The Blu-ray

Third Window issue a region B locked disc with a hefty 45GB of materials, including over 40GB for the transfer itself. In terms of special features, there is a 30 minute reel of all of all of the songs from the film which can be watched song by song or as one feature. There's also a heavily interlaced making of documentary which follows the usual respectful route of Japanese publicity featurettes with cast and director being terribly polite and a little footage from the film's shoot. HD trailers for this film and Land of Hope also appear.imageThe film comes with Master Audio sound, this lossless track is heavily mixed at the front of the 5.1 stage with few effects coming from the rears. It does a nice job of reproducing the music but don't expect anything too immersive. As to the quality of the transfer, it is very good indeed with generous bitrates, very assured colours and reference black levels. This is a film that is meant to impress its images upon the viewer and the treatment her succeeds well in doing just that.

Summary

A very good high definition presentation of a terrific piece of entertainment. After the mis-step of Ace Attorney, Miike is back on form.

Film
8 out of 10
Video
8 out of 10
Audio
6 out of 10
Extras
5 out of 10
Overall

7

out of 10

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