The insanely prolific Takashi Miike teams again with screenwriter Shigenori Takechi (Graveyard of Honor) for his first samurai film, Izo. The film begins where Hideo Gosha's 1969 Hitokiri (the last film author Yukio Mishima starred in before his suicide) left off, with the crucifixion and bloody execution of a low-level samurai, Izo (Kazuya Nakayama). After death, Izo's spirit travels through history and ends up in the present day, where he finds himself among the downtrodden. Before long, his sword becomes the instrument of vengeance, and it seems he is seeking revenge on all humankind. Jumping through time and space, Izo goes on a wild killing spree that brings him to the attention of Japan's eternal powers, including the Prime Minister ("Beat" Takeshi Kitano in a cameo role) and the androgynous, seemingly all-powerful Emperor (Ryuhei Matsuda). We learn that among Izo's various guises was a doomed soldier who had to leave his lover (Kaori Momoi) to fight in World War II. He spares neither Buddhist monks nor schoolchildren, and eventually, Izo confronts Mother Earth (Haruna Takase) herself in his (perhaps eternal) quest for bloody retribution. The film is loaded with cameos, including Ken Ogata, Ken'ichi Endou, Susumu Terajima, kickboxer Masato, and K1 fighter Bob Sapp. Folksinger Tomokawa Kazuki appears throughout the film, strumming his guitar and commenting on the action as a sort of Greek chorus. Izo was shown by the Film Society of Lincoln Center as part of the 2005 edition of Film Comment Selects.
by Josh Ralske synopsis