While moving into his new apartment, businessman Raita Takashima meets his new neighbor who also happens to be named Raita, Riata Kazama, a private detective. When a potential client of Kazama winds up murdered, the evidence at the scene points to Kazama. Soon more victims turn up, each missing a different organ and Kazama becomes the prime suspect, despite his innocence. In a desperate bid to clear his name, Kazama enlists the help of the other Raita to find the real killer with various clues leading them to Yuki Aoyama, a eccentric painter who’s creative process involves the use of very peculiar materials.
Despite the DVD cover making the film come across as something akin to the Saw or Hostel franchises, fear not as Detective Story (Tantei monogatari, 探偵物語) is anything but. If the film could be compared to anything, it actually shares more in common with something along the lines of Sergio Martino’s loony giallo/poliziotteschi/comedy hybrid Suspicious Death of a Minor (1975), another film dealing with some rather dark subject matter but its oddball fusion of genres leads to some pretty strange changes in tone. With Detective Story, Miike takes a premise that in the wrong hands could have wound up being a pedestrian affair and injects it with a plethora of quirkiness, morphing it into an offbeat tale which ranges from disgusting to hilarious and oftentimes both at once. Its not that the central murder mystery isn’t enough to hold the entire film together as the mystery itself is wonderfully executed and the way Miike incorporates the painter into the proceedings makes it all the more interesting, not to mention grotesque, but the oddball touches Miike peppers the film with are what make the film stand out, such as the ridiculous wig Kazama wears as a disguise and the eccentric behavior of Kazama’s employee Mika who is responsible for one of the films more random, bodily fluid influenced gags. Miike even manages to include bits of sadness that he often incorporates into his horror films which incredibly doesn’t clash with the films other moods, even when the film is changing tones at breakneck speed.
One of the more curious aspects regarding the film is Miike’s smearing blood on the camera lens during certain scenes were the victims bodies are displayed, “blurring” some of the gore. This appears to be Miike having a bit of a laugh at Japanese censorship practices where normally genitalia is fogged while when it comes to violence and gore, most anything usually goes. Interestingly, there are moments in the film featuring un-obscured full-frontal nudity making the blurred gore seem all the more unnecessary which again, seems like a case of Miike taking the piss. Its also worth pointing out that actress Harumi Inoue has a role in the film. Inoue of course was the star of Takashi Ishii’s revenge masterpiece Freeze Me (2000) and was utilized by Ishii again in A Night In Nude: Salvation (2010) so appearances in films from the two most brilliant Takashi’s can be on her resume! Again, the film was originally made for Japan’s direct to video market (V-cinema), yet managed to get a limited theatrical release in Japan. Two years later the film made it to the States on DVD and surprisingly flew under the radar which is odd considering Miike’s cult following. Detective Story is certainly an oddity and although those not used to Miike’s idiosyncrasies will likely walk away from it perplexed, Miike fans who may have overlooked the film should find plenty to love.