Dead or Alive: Final is the third and last instalment in Takashi Miike's Dead or Alive trilogy. The only point this film has in common with its predecessors are the facts that all films are directed by Takashi Miike and feature Japanese V-cinema cult actors Show Aikawa and Riki Takeuchi in the lead roles. Dead or Alive: Final isn't even a classic gangster movie but rather a dystopian science-fiction movie. It's not as quirky, explicit and brutal as the first instalment of the trilogy but more vivid, surprising and experimental than the second movie. Considering the long list of characters and balanced mixture between the first two instalments, it makes me think of Takashi Miike's third part of the Black Society trilogy where Ley Lines had a very similar approach if compared to its predecessors Shinjuku Triad Society and Rainy Dog.
The story line is quite unusual, even by Takashi Miike's experimental standards. The movie is set in the year 2346 in Yokohama where people of several cultures coexist. The movie's dialogues are in Cantonese, English and Japanese but different people seem to understand one another effortlessly despite speaking different languages which proves that society has become very educated, multicultural and polyglot. However, after numerous violent wars in the past, Yokohama's mayor has established radical birth control to prevent further conflicts. It has actually become illegal to give birth to children and homosexuality is praised as a political and social ideology. People are forced to take pills to suppress their desire to have sexual intercourse and give birth to children. Those who disobey are hunted down. Riki Takeuchi plays a cop that is hunting down social outcast living in hiding to have families. Show Aikawa plays a human-like robot who gets in touch with one of these communities by pure coincidence after saving a young kid that gets attacked in front of him in a restaurant. The two characters end up fighting each other but soon realize that they have more things in common than they would have thought.
Among the movie's strengths, one has to note a quite quirky and surprising story line that ends in a very surprising way such as the first part of the trilogy. The acting performances by Show Aikawa and Riki Takeuchi are outstanding and they have great chemistry on screen. The supporting actors are also doing a great job. Richard Chung convinces particularly as manipulative gay mayor and Josie Ho shines as female rebel that has to find a sense of life after most members of her clan got betrayed and assassinated. The settings of the film are often abandoned, broken and dirty which is typical for Takashi Miike's movies and give this film a slightly gloomy atmosphere. The sky is mostly yellow-brownish which adds an interesting tone as well. The movie is obviously inspired by several dystopian science-fiction stories. The pills that suppress the will to reproduce could make you think of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 while the presence of robots is closely inspired by Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. Movies such as Blade Runner and The Matrix seem to have influenced parts of the script as well. On the other side, Takashi Miike's movie isn't a cheap copy of these well-known stories and he manages to add his own touch to it thanks to the great acting performances, quirky story line and quite vivid action sequences filmed by local Hong Kong choreographers.
The most negative element of the film is that it rarely looks futuristic. You can still see old cars, cell phones from the early millennium and simplistic weapons that seem out of place in the twenty-fourth century. While the action sequences look great, the special effects are very artificial and look as if they were taken from an old manga. The movie would be more convincing if it took place in the near future than in the twenty-fourth century.
In the end, each of the three instalments of Takashi Miike's Dead or Alive trilogy complements one another perfectly and shows the diversified skills of its director and main actors. It's a matter of taste whether you prefer a fast-paced and brutal gangster thriller, a thoughtful drama or a vivid science-fiction movie. I liked all these movies but I would probably prefer the first for its intensity, put this third film in second place for its quirky creativity and might put the second movie last because of its minor lengths in the middle section. Still, fans of Japanese cinema should be familiar with the entire trilogy and purchase the excellent boxed set by Arrow Video and also try to buy Arrow Video's boxed set of Takashi Kiike's Black Society trilogy.
Review by kluseba from the Internet Movie Database.