The Last Dance – DAIBYONIN (1993) – Directed by Juzo Itami
While Juzo Itami is best known for his 1985 comedy classic, Tampopo, eight more films followed before his alleged "suicide" in 1997. In 1992's Minbo no onna, Itami cast his wife, Noboku Miyamotyo, as an attorney wise in "minbo," the art of extortion by Japanese Yakuza. It was a scathing attack on gang practices, and the film's iconoclastic vision of Yakuza weakness hit a sore spot with real gang members who slashed Itami’s face outside his home, leaving him gravely injured in the hospital. Itami's 1993 follow-up was DAIBYONIN, literally
The Great Patient, but also known by its English title, The Last Dance. The film is an indictment of Japanese hospital practices, as well as a light-hearted and surreal meditation on death and dying, strongly recalling Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece Ikiru. Veteran actor Rentaro Mikuni plays Buhei Mikai, a film director afflicted with stomach cancer, though true to Japanese convention, his family, friends, and doctor try to keep the secret of its terminal nature from him. In the year that follows, he is at first blissfully ignorant of the seriousness of his malady, but the truth gradually becomes clear. Noboku Miyamoto is here again as the long-suffering wife, along with many other great Itami cast regulars. Juzo Itami directed only 10 films in his life, and none presently have official DVD release in the U.S. This is the original uncut Japanese version, with optional subtitles (available from the "subtitles" button on your player remote.) Widescreen
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