Sharkskin Man and Peach Hip Girl (1998)
A man called Samehada ("Shark Skin") steals some money from his Yakuza boss, and goes on the run. He crosses paths with a girl called Momojiri ("Peach Hip", or "Peach Ass" if you prefer) who is fleeing from a hotel manager who doesn't treat her well. They decide to throw their fortunes in together and try to escape the Yakuza and an assassin.
The credit sequence introduces you to the cast of the characters you are about to meet, and it was very worrying... so many characters, I thought "it's going to get real confusing", but this is not the case at all. Even though there are a lot of characters, each one is well developed and unique - no problem following who they are and what their relationships are. It's one hell of a set of characters too... "colourful" hardly seems sufficiently descriptive, but they are all brilliantly conceived and portrayed. The main focus of the movie is the interplay between all these characters, with lots of sharp and witty dialogue throughout, and a generally black humour in the situations they get into and the way they get out of them.
The movie is fast moving... very well paced in fact, and beautifully filmed & edited too. There's a little bit of violence, but nothing that's going to be of the slightest concern to anybody who's seen some Kitano or Miike. Almost wholesome in fact
It's difficult to say what makes the movie so good - it's not really any one thing - it's basically just an all-round clever, funny and exceptionally well made movie. Recommended!
If you don't want to pay $55 for the Japanese disc (excellent quality, minimal extras), I just read that it's due to get a US release 'this fall' over on mhvf. I'm glad I splashed out on this one though :)