Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike is tough to figure out. The creator of some of the world’s most disturbing films (see: Audition, Ichi the Killer) has also proven himself capable of telling more light-hearted stories, family-friendly ones even. It is presumably that other side, the one that isn’t interested in sticking half-dismembered humans in sacks, that is currently working on an adaptation of an action and violence-free Nintendo DS game.
Miike didn’t identify the game by its title in his interview with The Huffington Post at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. He said that this next project will feature “little blood,” describing it as “a very light comedy… a court drama, based on a [Nintendo DS] video game.” That description of the source material as a “court drama” narrows the range of possibilities down to just one: Ace Attorney.
The unusual game series, known in Japan as Gyakuten Saiban, tasks players with working as a defense attorney within the Japanese legal system. It doesn’t really compare with any other game out there, though the recently released Rockstar Games title, L.A. Noire, clearly draws some inspiration from Ace Attorney with its interrogation and clue management mechanics. It’s tough to say exactly how a big screen adaptation will hang on to the spirit of the game without feeling too much like a dry courtroom drama, but Miike has proven himself to be endlessly inventive as a filmmaker.
The director was at Cannes to promote Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai, a 3D production that has more in common with work like Ichi the Killer. How Miike is able to change gears so easily is a mystery. It can’t be easy to go from one production which kicks off with an extended sequence in which a man commits ritual suicide to another which is geared toward entertaining game fans and families with light courtroom shenanigans.