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Ley Lines | review | dvd | Lollipop
(Arts Magic DVD)
by Chad Van Wagner
With Ley Lines, Takeshi Miike wraps up his Black Society Trilogy with a film that seems like a careful amalgamation of the two previous films. Moody, silly, occasionally hopeful, and violent as all fucking get out, Ley Lines is the best of the three films, but I wouldn't watch it first. If viewed after this, the other two films might (unfairly) come off as lesser and redundant.
In Shinjiku Triad Society, the characters inspire disgust. In Rainy Dog, pity. Now, with Ley Lines, you actually get to like these guys, despite the fact that they are, to put it mildly, morons. After biting the only hand that offers to feed them, our gang (three half-Japanese, half-Chinese guys and, typically for a Miike film, a prostitute) are suddenly on the lam, with some very pissed-off gangsters after them.
What makes Ley Lines the best of the three films is the sheer energy with which it was made. The scope of emotions are nearly operatic: From brain-splattering violence to genuinely touching compassion (often within the same scene), neither emotion has time to become tiring.
The budget has been upped, as well. The colors are downright garish, and they add a layer of otherworldly goofiness to the occasionally hyper-unrealistic scenes (there's a lot of talking directly into the camera against a black background, for example). Despite the downer subject matter, Ley Lines is almost FUN. If the other two felt like "films," this qualifies as a "movie," if you get my drift. Fire up the popcorn.
Ley Lines is almost Miike's warped way of saying "it might all work out after all." Granted, that's stretching it for a film with this much blood and guts, but we're talking in relative terms here. If the Black Society Trilogy is a rollercoaster, Ley Lines is that one last hill that reminds you how much fun the whole thing was, despite the fact that it made you lose your cool.