Takashi Miike has done with this movie what no American director could ever get away with: Made the first half of a two part movie that literally ends half way through the story. Yep, that's correct. Don't plan on viewing this unless you can also get your hands on Family2 because this one ends at a critical juncture with absolutely no issue resolved. It's a pretty cool contrivance even though one is caught in bewilderment when the movie credits start scrolling right in the middle of the movie and it takes a while to process the fact that the movie is indeed over, for now. (Unfortunately, after watching Family2 it strikes one that the reason for this odd practice is likely because the movie as a whole is so poor that chopping it in two before this becomes apparent ensured ticket sales for the second, poorer half. I hate to think this but after you watch Family2 I think you may agree with me).
The film itself is one of Takashi's more visually interesting, perhaps daring, efforts with an interesting use of grainy, streaky, and oddly lit shot sequences combined with wonderfully bizarre camera angles and perspectives. One often has to refocus on the unfolding scene to get a handle on what one is actually watching.
For this one, fluency in the Japanese would be most helpful because there is an awful lot going on here and the subtitles aren't up to the job of conveying all of the subtleties of the story, I think.
The story revolves around, roughly, the shared, although disparate, trajectories of a trio of brothers born to a ne'er do well drunkard and a victimized mother. Suffice it to say that their early life experiences have colored their actions leading them to join their second family, the Yakuza.
Big trouble begins when the youngest brother is identified during a yakuza hit causing a gang war to break out. He goes into hiding but the race is on to find him, on the one hand by a vengeful mob and on the other by his vengeful brothers.
This movie doesn't have the charisma that most of Miike's other mob movies do, in my opinion. The sex and violence are also not as imaginatively done but I love the visuals and the really daring lighting effects. The complexity of the plot will have me going back to rewatch this in a year or so, I think, and I'll finish this review at Family 2, the second half of this tale.