You Need to Watch the Most Bonkers Movie of the Year

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Hulu
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Hulu

Takashi Miike is a genuine gonzo visionary whose work is as wild and perverse as it is diverse.

Best known internationally for his horror and crime output (specifically, Audition, Ichi the Killer, Dead or Alive, and One Missed Call), Miike is an intensely prolific Japanese cine-extremist who crosses boundaries of any and every sort, such that his oeuvre is marked by madness that can be alternately sweet (2001’s horror-musical-romance The Happiness of the Katakuris) and mind-bogglingly deranged (2001’s Visitor Q, a family drama that has to be seen to be believed). Even when he takes a relatively more conventional route, such as with 2017’s Blade of the Immortal or 2019’s First Love, the director invests his action with delirious flair and a demented sense of humor.

All of which makes his partnership with Disney—that bastion of wholesome family entertainment—both completely unexpected and totally insane.

In the United States, Connect will arrive on December 7 not on Disney+ but, instead, on Hulu. Those hoping for a trademark off-the-wall Miike effort won’t be disappointed.

A Korea-set adaptation of a webtoon of the same name, the Japanese auteur’s latest concerns eternal creatures, dismembered body parts, yakuza gangs and a serial killer who transforms his victims into works of grotesque art. Premonitions, zodiac signs, and reanimated corpses also factor into this sinister stew, which Miike infuses with cartoonish electricity and menace.

It’s just about everything Disney is not, which is why its craziness will be far more at home on the Mouse House’s adult-skewing online service rather than its premiere streaming venue, where it would certainly make for odd bedfellows with the likes of Bambi and Cinderella.

Regardless of its chosen distribution platform, Connect is a satisfyingly outrageous series in its own right. Taking inspiration from Body Parts, Eric Red’s 1991 B-movie starring Jeff Fahey, Miike’s TV venture concerns Dongsoo (Jung Hae-in), a young man whom we first see walking through a city’s streets singing a song that he himself wrote.

His quiet evening stroll is interrupted when he passes by a van whose door opens to reveal a jean-jacketed goon with a hand axe between his feet. A skirmish ensues, and Dongsoo quickly loses it, winding up on the table of an underground surgeon who uses a scalpel to cut a line from his throat to his stomach, and a giant retractor to open up his chest cavity. He also removes his eye, whose vision goes static-y right before the procedure is completed and the organ is dropped into a nearby tray.

This is merely the baby-steps beginning for Miike, who segues to a dream sequence in which the surgeon dumps garbage bags of human remains in an alley, only to see those severed limbs spring to life, break free of their confines, and attack him.

That incident may not be real, but it’s also not far from reality, since Dongsoo’s torso soon sprouts myriad writhing tentacles from his new orifices that close his wounds and bring him back to life—a state of affairs that, as flashbacks illustrate, Dongsoo has lived with since childhood. He doesn’t become completely whole, given that one of his eyes is missing. Still, he’s otherwise as good as new, and shortly thereafter, he’s on the street, gazing with other civilians at a truly monstrous sight.

A Japanese Master’s Bloody-Awesome Samurai Slasher for the Ages

In a central urban location, someone has placed a statue of an anguished nude woman with vines wrapped around her arms. This creation, though, isn’t actually inorganic; as indicated by blood dripping from its fingers and upper bicep, it’s actually a murder victim encased in resin, made to look like a sculpture.

It’s also not the first of its kind. Detective Choi (Kim Roi-ha) is tasked with leading the investigation into this baffling case, and mockery from his colleagues exposes his own extrasensory skill: when he happens upon an accurate lead, his nose bleeds. Blood, the body and perception (underlined by constant eye motifs) are all intertwined in this saga, and it’s not long before Choi happens upon a clue that puts him on Dongsoo’s trail. That pursuit, however, isn’t quite justified, since Dongsoo isn’t the killer—even if he does share a special connection to him.

Connect’s central gimmick is that Dongsoo’s missing eye has wound up in the socket of the serial killer behind these florid art-installation slayings, and at random intervals, Dongsoo can see out of it—thus providing him with glimpses from the fiend’s POV. This turns Dongsoo into a sleuth determined to retrieve his stolen orb, which is made easier by his status as a veritable immortal.

That fact is proven when Dongsoo revisits the surgeon’s lair and faces off against the gangland organ-harvesting baddies who first abducted him. During this showdown, he’s aided by the mysterious Irang (Kim Hye-jun)—who’s spying on the yakuza and rightly believes Dongsoo is proof that the “Connect” legend is true—and he shows off his magical regeneration abilities. Those powers afford him some unique combat opportunities, but they also make him highly coveted by the criminals, who view him as a prime source of black-market bio-goods.

‘First Love’: Takashi Miike’s Wild, Decapitation-Heavy Orgy of Cinematic Pleasure

Connect is a lot of mix-and-match batshit nuttiness, and unsurprisingly, Miike directs it to the hilt. A freeze-frame of Dongsoo leaping naked out of an upper-story window, his body surrounded by glass shards and illuminated by the full moon’s light, is like some wondrously weirdo variation of a Batman comic-book panel, and the aforementioned body-part nightmare feels akin to an unhinged The Addams Family riff. Miike’s visuals are sleek, menacing and sharp, and there’s rarely a moment that doesn’t hum with coiled energy. Connect confirms that, at age 62, and with over 100 feature films under his belt, Miike has lost none of his aesthetic verve, his stewardship as enlivened and striking as ever.

Initial revelations about Jinseop (Go Kyung-pyo), the lunatic responsible for the murders, suggest that Connect may eventually boast some Red Dragon-esque touches as well. At least in its early going, however, Miike makes sure to imprint his own distinctive DNA onto this macabre TV series—and, in the process, delivers the sort of out-there end-of-the-year effort for which genre fans have been waiting.

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