Takashi Miike is one of those movie auteurs whose keen eye for detail and bravura only makes new fans of the art of film. His movies, though eye candy for most, are definitely an acquired taste. He portrays violence so stylized and his characters are so ingrained into their worlds, that sometimes you may think you are watching a documentary. His star making turn in Audition is both unsettling and eccentrically thought provoking.
Then there are those movies which can be considered traditional Japanese movie fare where there are parts where his signature marks pop up. One movie which definitely made me a fan of his was Ichi The Killer. It’s an intense tour de force set in the world of the Yakuza. It functions as a character study and somewhat of a torture fest. His movies explore the underbelly that most people think they know, until he shows just how ugly and gruesome it really is. In the first collected volume of The Ballad Of Sang we find one such assassin whose master has been murdered, and he will stop at nothing, to be the harbinger of justice in his master’s name.
We meet Sang, a mute child assassin whose job is to take out a local Yakuza mob boss. We also meet Thomas, Sang’s master, and coincidental father figure. His understanding of his men is his strongest quality. Sang was more than overzealous with his last job and their boss, Don Minchella, decides to teach them both a lesson killing Thomas and almost killing Sang. Minchella puts out a contract on Sang, leading to every killer and gang to pursue him. The whole city is hunting for Sang, dead or alive.
Overall, a great comic series which will remind some of Zatoichi but definitely feels like a Takeshi Miike movie. The story by Ed Brisson is pulse pounding and fun. The art by the creative team is beautiful. Altogether, a great story that is gory, entertaining, and electrifying.
Story: Ed Brisson Art: Alessandro Micelli, Shari Chankhamma and Crank!
Story: 10 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.6 Recommendation: Buy