The final installment of the Black Society Trilogy, Ley Lines is an impactful mix of its predecessors, Shinjuku Triad Society and Rainy Dog. Similar to Shinjuku, Ley Lines focuses on the bigotry in Japanese society towards the Chinese set in a gang related backdrop.
Ryu, his brother and their friend Chang gave been tormented since childhood because of their mixed Chinese background. After leading a childhood of violence, theft and debauchery, the trio decide that they must escape the biased boundaries of Japan in order to find their happiness. Led by the headstrong Ryu, they set forth to find the means by which to escape the country illegally to Brazil. Their search leads them to 2 options: obtain fake passports, or stowaway on a boat headed for Brazil. Unfortunately for the trio, a run in with a devious hooker left them with no money or resources to obtain the means by which to get to Brazil.
Enter Sho Aikawa, the toluene maker. Running into his homosexual black henchman in a public restroom, the trio is brought to Aikawa after learning that he is recruiting "distributors" for his huffing drug. Vowing that they would do anything to escape the country, Ryu and Co. hit the streets with a good amount of the substance to earn enough money to find a way out of Japan. After earning enough money, Ryu seeks out a man that fabricates fake passports and is ultimately led to the most powerful Chinese gang boss of the area, Wong. Offended by the boys' ignorance to dealing drugs on his turf, Wong has his thugs throw Ryu a beating and denies them assistance in escaping the country. Physically broken, but still determined, Ryu must find a way for him and his friends to escape Japan.
Utilizing his "usual" pool of talent, Miike is once again able to create a realistic look of isolation and rejection set in his own surreal world with Ley Lines. The character personalities of the three friends contrast much like the moral does to the filth laden story, but in true Miike fashion, all elements seem to harmonize as the movie unfolds in front of the viewer. And similar to the previous installments, the film delivers a steady balance of pleasure and pain to leave the audience in an emotional bi-polar state.
Of course, no Miike movie would be complete without its fair share of unusual and uncomfortable moments. Ley Lines features a great deal of sex and violence, as well as the debut of Miike's "speculum cam", which the prostitute Anita so graciously donates her vaginal cavity for during a terrifying romp with a sadomasochistic client. The film's carnal cloud seems to linger over Anita throughout its entirety, where she is the focal point of continuous beatings and penetration, seemingly recognized as the balance of pleasure and pain so often used in Miike's films (see Ichi the Killer, Audition, DOA). Another recurring element of Miike's films is the tragic hero, in this case Ryu, who must give up everything, including his family, to achieve the happiness of escaping Japan.
Remaining on par with the two previous installments, Ley Lines special features include 2 interviews with director Miike, an interview with editor Shimamura, commentary by Tom Mes, artwork, trailers, biographies and filmographies. ArtsMagic once again establishes that it can deliver the goods to accompany an incredible Miike film.
Rounding out the trilogy, Ley Lines can be seen as a midpoint between Shinjuku Triad Society and Rainy Dog. Although there are no recurring characters in the trilogy, familiar faces and the continual presence of isolation, bigotry, hate, sex and violence bridge the movies in succession. Although all three movies are available from ArtsMagic DVD as separate entities, I would opt for the boxed set as they should be viewed as a trilogy, and would most certainly be a prized possession of any Miike fan, or Asian film fanatic for that matter.