Friday, August 28, 2009

[Japanese Film Festival] Kichiku: Banquet of the Beasts (Kichiku Dai Enkai)

There are some shows that you feel are doing something weird for the sake of, and this feels like one of those films. It's easy to come up with something filled with continuous bore, I mean, gore, blood, mutilation of body parts and the likes just to elicit a shocking response from an audience, and probably to have some fun while at it during the production process with copious amounts of blood spraying, dripping and oozing around sets. This graduating film just seems like that.

Written, directed and edited by Kazuyoshi Kumakiri, Kichiku: Banquet of the Beasts is supposedly based on a real incident known as the Asamo Sanso Incident in the 70s, where a group of left wing students had a stand off with the police in a lodge, and ultimately turned their violence inwards toward one another. In some ways the premise might seem like The Baader Meinhof Complex with its free love and violence to champion their cause, but this film had a lot more sadistic violence in store especially when the group start to hit the woods.

It opens with a man being released from prison, where his cellmate Aizawa tells him to visit his revolutionary group, currently held together by his girlfriend Masami (Sumiko Mikami). As with most groups, when a charismatic leader is in the slammer, the survival of the group will depend very much on the leadership ability of the interim leader, which Masami has failed in many ways, manipulating the group through threats and her not-so-hot body - well I guess if you're the only chick in the group, the rest will just make do. These are revolutionaries who are dedicated to their cause, but look more like lost sheep without a leader, partying away while awaiting the release of Aizawa.

Which doesn't happen, and provides the catalyst of a lot more gore to come in the film, from the disembowelling of the gut, right down to exploding heads, fondling of brain matter, castration, mutilation, decapitation and what have yous. Masami goes crazy with deep running distrust that someone in the group is a mole, and hence the very prolonged scenes of violence and torture, that seems to numb after a while when everyone gets into the act of self-preservation. Too much of a good (or bad) thing being repeated, just loses it and makes it seem like it's in for purely visual shock-reasons.

The sole redeeming grace for me in this film, is the awesome soundtrack, where the primary use of drum beats did seem suspiciously similar to Tan Dun's masterpiece in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Probably the only thing that kept me awake from snoozing in this film that fell flat.

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