The City of Lost Souls (Hyôryû-gai) (2001)



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Movie Info

The fantastically prolific Takashi Miike directs this dizzyingly stylish thriller -- one of four in the year 2000 alone -- about love, cocaine, and exile. In the film's near-wordless opening, half-Japanese Brazil Mario (Teah) wipes out a room full of his fellow criminals in a bar in Sao Paolo and then strips naked in the dust storm outside. Mario is next seen one year later rescuing his Chinese girlfriend, Kei (Michelle Reis), from being deported. The event, which involved the hijacking of a helicopter, a gun fight amid the Joshua trees of the vast Japanese desert (!), and a harrowing 80-foot leap into Tokyo's Shinjuku district, instantly becomes the stuff of legend among Japan's large and beleaguered foreign population. Desperately wanting to get out of the country, Mario and Kei get entangled with a coke deal that goes sour between Mr. Ko (Mitsuhiro Oikawa), an effete though deadly Chinese mobster with unwholesome designs on Kei, and Fushimi (Koji Kikkawa), a psychotic yakuza who brutally kidnaps a blind orphan for his own terrible ends. Kung-fu cockfights, murderous Ping-Pong matches, and religious miracles ensue. ~ Jonathan Crow, Rovi


Critic Reviews for The City of Lost Souls (Hyôryû-gai)

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (4)

There's enough atmosphere, mayhem and just plain energy to make the film a viable midnight movie, a more appropriate slot than a regular run.

Oct 24, 2002 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

While the film throws a solid pop punch, you could still swear you've seen it all before.

Oct 24, 2002 | Full Review…

[Miike's] work is fun to look at but emotionally unengaging, perhaps because he can't summon enough belief in his pulp-fiction characters to make them come alive.

Aug 8, 2002 | Rating: 3/5

An empty, incoherent exercise in frenetic style, interesting primarily for its cosmopolitan flavor.

Aug 5, 2002 | Rating: 46/100 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

Yet another "Yakuza" (gangster) film, Miike crafts what amounts to a stylish and interesting film, but not one that can sustain a midnight madness audience.

Jun 21, 2007 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

Tireless Japanese splatter director Takashi Miike's keeps his own worst impulses check, and the payoff is a satisfying and uncharacteristically romantic film.

Aug 9, 2002 | Rating: 3/5

Audience Reviews for The City of Lost Souls (Hyôryû-gai)

It's not uncommon for films by Takashi Miike to make little to no sense and 'The City Of Lost Souls' is no exception. Plot wise the film is an average yakuza/action story, and is eerily reminiscent (yet not nearly as good as) 'True Romance' as it sees two lovers end up with a briefcase full of cocaine and on the run from those who want it back. Although the story itself if fairly simple it is distorted my the film's omniscient nature and becomes hard to follow easily. Despite an unoriginal plot and convoluted narrative TCOLS manages to distinguish itself in a variety of ways, allowing it to become an original experience in its own right. Take, for example, the manic way in which the film is edited,with jump cuts incorporated in a seemingly random manner every couple of seconds and counterpoised against long, somewhat beautiful, shots of the harsh environment and the characters inhabiting it. Miike's direction is apparent in the small flourishes that frequent (in a similar fashion to 'DEAD OR ALIVE: HANZAISHA' and other early works) throughout the film: a dwarf brushes his teeth with cocaine, CGI rendered cock fights see chickens performing matrix style slow motion kicks, a man has sex with a pig, and, my personal favourite, death by Ping Pong. Although not uncommon by this point these moments are always welcome and help establish the films wacky personality while somewhat distracting you from its other problems. Although there are obvious issues throughout the film (I'm yet to mention the bad acting and large amount of two dimensional characters) it seldom reaches moments of deranged brilliance; the scene that sees our protagonist, Mario, eliminate a whole office full of yakuza with a shotgun is undeniably exciting and the final two scenes add a whole different element to the film that beckons for a re-watching. Overall, although not a bad movie, TCOLS fails to stand up against Miike's stronger offerings.

Cameron Sherwell
Cameron Sherwell

Super Reviewer


The City of Lost Souls is sprawling, and at times meandering and unfocused, but you have to applaud Miike's inventiveness and the way he plays with form and technique. Sure, the plot, performances and general tone is completely over the top, but if you can look past that (which, truth be told, is tough to do), you'll see some terrific long takes, very compelling and unique camera angles (including a toilet POV shot), thought-provoking examples of mise-en-scene, well choreographed action scenes, and some weird Matrix and Blade spoofs. Miike has been called the "wild man of Japanese cinema," and indeed no other film will cement that point like The City of Lost Souls.

Jonathan Hutchings
Jonathan Hutchings

Super Reviewer

I can't help but feel like Miike was just fucking with me. And while I probably won't watch it again, it is worth a midnight viewing if you happen to be in the mood for a truly bizarre & blood-soaked experience. Alcohol is recommended.

Reid Volk
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer


Like many other Miike films, a story that would turn out like a usual crime thriller actually turns out into a whacky crime thriller. Takashi Miike kind of whacky. You should know what I mean if you've seen other Miike films. The problem is that sometimes Miike's creativity is just a little too much. Fortunately this is not one of those times. Sort of.

The interesting thing about this film is that it incorporates Brazilian, Japanese, and Chinese, which is a pretty unique combination. Other than the that, the movie never really excels anywhere else, except for the ending. The first half of this film is the usual Miike weirdness. You need to really pay attention cause you will get lost. You won't be totally lost though. You will be able to get the gist of what is going on and by the second half you are up to speed because the second half is fairly easy to follow.

As far as the Miike factor is concerned, you have some really cheap looking CG, weird characters, various filming styles, etc. The CG chicken fight is a hoot. Kung fu anyone?

This film isn't action packed, as you may believe, but the ending is quite explosive. Fans of the shotgun will be impressed.

The acting is OK at best. The lead, Teah, is nothing special and the beautiful Michelle Reis isn't doing much. Underdevelopment of her character hurts. There are also the few over actors, but that is not out of the ordinary.

The only people I would recommend this film to are the Takashi Miike fans. The other reason to watch this film is if you want an abnormal crime adventure.

JY Skacto
JY Skacto

Super Reviewer

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