Rarely less than entertaining, director Takashi Miike has long been known for his fetishistic devotion to subversive images and themes, coating high-action plots with generous gore, sex, and childlike sense of wonder. Nihilistic yet fun-loving, Miike is a peon of contradictions. At one hand a cinematic terrorist, challenging both his own culture and the rigid morality of the West, Miike also defies the conventional structure of film, opting to direct his pessimistic puzzles according to their emotional energy -- operating on a surrealist-like dream logic of expressionism rather than enslaving himself to logic. Finding beauty in brutality, Miike made suffering art in Audition. A similar balance of terror and awe occupy the metaphorical borderlands of the remainder of his films, each of which attack the mind with as much ferocity as his intellectual/emotional stances question the simplistic morality of the status quo. Ballets of blood, brutality, and dark beauty, Miike's cinema celebrates pain without the traditional use of a moral message to justify it -- for in his world violence requires no moral justification. This is what makes it as dangerously revolutionary as it is enjoyably escapist. In Silver, Miike displays an energy similar to that of his later work, but with too much silliness to be taken seriously.

An orgy of slapdash sexual shenanigans and deadpan, Silver is an uneven entry into the Takashi Miike universe. Visually generous, sporting whirlwind action, in-jokes, and the absurdist temper that lends his other films such presence, the basic premise of the film works against it, diluting believability and emotional consequence through lapses of plot, acting, and thematic inner logic. Shirogane (Atsuko Sakuraba) seeks her revenge on the gangsters who murdered her family. Becoming Silver, a wrestling crime-fighter, she judo-chops her way through the corrupt Wrestling League. Battling inept, ridiculously depicted evildoers (themselves reminiscent of the villains of television's Batman series in their large than life personas), Silver herself is more of a parody of a tormented vigilante than a superhero. It's rather hard to take her seriously as she jumps around kicking ass, facing both a Dominatrix and enigmatic dart artist. An odd orgy of caped crusaders and lackluster plotting, Silver is saved from disaster by its own tongue-in-cheek mentality. Miike, even in the early stages of his career, knew how to weave disparate elements together to create visually rich surface action, interweaving sword-flashing action with cartoon violence and over-the-top goofiness.

Based on a manga by Hisao Maki, Silver defies logic initially when the hero decides to torment a female Yuzku leader rather than the killers who harmed her family (in fact, we don't see them again!). Certainly not the sweaty spectacle of sex, sadism, and violence that would distinguish much of his later work, and, sadly, lacking both their brains and sensibilities, Silver succeeds in merging sex and violence where it fails in dramatic integrity. Many of Miike's films depend on their paradoxically erotic yet repellent visual style rather than their plots. This is no exception. An odd, not completely successful (but far from boring) film, Silver is rather like a Mexican Wrestling Superhero picture showered with bare breasts. Not precisely what one would expect from Miike, yet exactly what you would want from a movie combining a cape-wearing wrestling chick with vengeance on her mind. Not rated, the picture is clear and clean in letterbox format, coming in at a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Audio is in Dolby Digital, which does a commendable job of distinguishing between dialogue and an electric m´┐Żnage of sound FX. While there aren't many extras, a generous helping of Miike trailers and a sparse photo gallery are fun to watch.

Review by William P. Simmons

Released by Tokyo Shock
Region 1 - NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review