Directed by Kazuyoshi Kumakiri
Reviewed by MaT, added on Jan 1 2005
Kumakiri made this film as his final project in college and although it has gotten notoriety due to the extreme graphic violence depicted, its really nothing more than an amateurish borefest that has gotten way more credit than it deserves. What little story there is depicts a group of leftist college radicals who want nothing more than to bring down society. Their leader has been jailed and so they spend their days taking orders from his crazy nut girlfriend usually after she is through having sex with them. Eventually, their leader kills himself in prison and the group starts going crazy. A trip to the woods to dispose of an enemy turns into an orgy of violence that isn't really as extreme as people would like you to believe.
This film is often cut into two parts by critics. The first half is dull and boring, focusing on characters that, as a viewer, you will never be able to care about. Not only are the characters given no depth, but the film is shot with a pseudo-documentary technique that allows for many bad hand held shots and way to many extreme close-ups (which I happen to despise) of the characters. There is really nothing of substance in the first half of the film and even its "leftist" politics, these kids are radicals afterall, are not given any time to develop. Hell, I wasn't even sure they were in college until I watched the "Making of..." extra on the DVD.
The second half is where things really start kicking into high gear. The movie switches from a weird art house snooze-a-thon, to an all-out Peter Jackson gorefest that still didn't add anything in terms of story, but at least kept me from falling asleep. The violence is pretty graphic but not as bad as what most people would have you believe. The shotgun blast to the head is mightily impressive and might be one of the best I have seen. The rest of the violence involves genitalia being lopped off, stabbed with knives, and greeting the barrel of the shotgun. Most of that violence, other than the "lopping", is directed towards the lone female in the group which probably caused most of the controversy.
Then again, you don't see any of that. It's all implied with blood spray and sound effects which make it seem a lot gorier than it really is. Other than a really cool shotgun blast to the head, there isn't much to like in this movie. Terrible acting, annoying camerawork, and no real story or character development kill what could have been an interesting look at the 70's leftist movement in Japan.