Rainy Dog (1997)

Rating: C

Dir: Takashi Miike
Star: Sho Aikawa, Xian-Mai Chen, Ming-Jun Gao, Tomorowo Taguchi

Yakuza footsoldier Yuji (Aikawa) is hiding out in Taiwan, but is having a very bad day; not only has he been told he can’t return to Japan, but a small, mute child has been dumped on him by a woman, who says it’s Yuji’s son. It says a lot about his phlegmatic approach that he does little but shrug, and get on with his new role as a hitman for a local gangster, while the kid tags along. After Yuji is lucky enough to stumble onto a large sum of money during one of his jobs, he tries to escape, with son and a local hooker (Chen) in tow. However, he soon finds he is eminently disposable, when his boss is made an offer by the brother of Yuji’s last victim.

We were one step ahead almost throughout – when a lighter is carefully placed in a breast pocket, you know it will stop a bullet later on. Some elements also confused us: the kid looks about six, so how long has Yuji been hiding in Taiwan? Then there’s this weird guy (Taguchi), who seems to be hunting Yuji, yet sits down for lunch with him, before they brawl in a back-alley afterwards. What’s that all about? [Having scoped out various opinions, some think he’s another hitman, others a cop – either is possible, neither is convincing.] It’s strong on well-crafted atmosphere, much of it meteorological, with the film’s mood as dark as the perpetually-wet weather. However, I’d trade an inch or two of the rain for a story-line with more meat on its bones.