Detective Joujima spends most of his time dealing with a crime war between the Yakuza and a group of Chinese gangsters. This puts him in the sights of a crazy Chinese criminal and his band of heartless killers.
On one hand, Miike's DoA is one of those movies that I have a really difficult time giving a high rating because it's so twisted and much of its content ranks amongst the most horrific/disgusting stuff I've ever seen put to film. And this is coming from someone who is a big fan of Miike's Ichi the Killer -- a film notorious for its violence, gore and absurd lunacy. What's more, this is also coming from someone that, after 25 years of watching thousands of movies of all imaginable genres and origins, has seen more than their fair share of film footage so disturbing I wish I could un-watch it.
But, with that said....
In the end, DoA is an extremely well made film (by all parties involved, not just Miike) that creates an ultra-realistic atmosphere depicting crime, sex, drugs, and insanity amidst the intense and seedy urban underbelly of the otherwise great nation of Japan. It's so captivating that it's like watching a train wreck -- an exquisitely choreographed and orchestrated train wreck -- that you just can't look
away from it even if you try. Therefore, on those merits, I have to say it definitely ranks as a fine example of Asian cinema. I wouldn't go quite so far to call it a masterpiece, but I think it's arguably a must-see film, especially for those viewers who are interested in the complete picture of all that Japanese cinema has to offer. To put it another way, even if you watch it and hate, you'll definitely walk away having seen something you haven't seen before, i.e. it's a movie that will broaden your horizons.
NOTE: Whether this review convinced you to watch this movie or skip it, I do recommend to everyone that you at least watch the movie's excellent intro sequence. It's one of the best bits Miike's ever filmed. It introduces the seedy but booming nighttime (under)world that the plot unfolds in and this is accomplished with great camera-work/editing and a hard charging techno soundtrack that are so spot on that it's like having the wild side of Shinjuku nightlife injected directly into your veins!