The Bird People in China
Japanese businessman Wada is sent to a remote village in China to assess the value of a jade deposit. Enforcer Ujiie joins him to make sure that the Yakuza get their cut as payment for debts owned by Wada's employers. After a long and difficult journey together, the arrive at the village, whose odd inhabitants believe they can fly.
The Bird People in China is completely different from the vast majority of Miike's productions, being a thoughtful, philosophical examination of the effects of technology and modern society, and attitudes about progress and development. Unlike most such films, this is not an Author Tract, being more interested in the complexities and ambiguities of the questions, than in providing any simple answers.
- Author Tract: Completely averted. Miike is more interest in exploring the complex interrelationships and conflicts in his subjects, than in trying to provide any answers to their problems.
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe: The villagers believe that they possess the ability to fly. Subverted, in that they're never shown to actually accomplish such a feat. Near the end of the movie, Wada and Ujiie attempt it with predictably painful, though fortunately not fatal, results.
- Odd Friendship: Reserved, logical, introverted salaryman Wada; and brash, loud, violent ganster Ujiie.
- Road Movie: The first half of the movie plays like this, with a considerable amount of character development occuring during the trip.
- Rule of Symbolism: The flying people and their village, as a metaphor for Wada and Ujiie's inner conflicts.
- Scenery Porn: The village is nestled among breathtakingly beautiful mountain terrain, which the camera work takes great pains to portray to its fullest.