A Battle Royale revenge for teacher!
Star – Hideake Ito
Genre – Psycho Drama
Run Time – 128 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – Japan
Awards – 3 Nominations
Amazon – £8.16 DVD (Blue Ray £9.74)
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Japanese director Takashi Mike makes some great movies and also makes some violent and sadistic ones, ‘Audition’ one you may have heard of. The scalpel and the eyeball scene will remain with me forever. He really is a class act behind the camera and acts, too, and if you enjoy Asian Extreme Cinema then you will know all about him. You may also have heard of 13 Assassins, Ichi the Killer, Gozu and the Dead or Alive trilogy. In most of those films blood squirts, pretty Japanese school girls whimper and heads roll. The Japanese are a sadistic and perverted bunch deep down and he drags it all out of them on screen to salivate all over again.
The film is an adaptation of Yusuke Kishi's Manga 2010 novel of the same name. The film contains many references to German culture, such as to Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther (I got that off wiki to fill this review out) and in the film a vinyl record with the German song about Mack the Knife written by Bertolt Brecht, played throughout. It’s a great sing and a big clue to our villain’s intent. These elements are violently forced together and we have Mikes signature Manga comic style on screen in a live action movie, as we have with many of his other films, memorably so with Ichi the Killer, and this one not for the feint hearted. Ito goes a bit too far down Sadistic Avenue.
• Hideaki Itō as Seiji Hasumi
• Takayuki Yamada as Tetsuro Shibahara
• Mitsuru Fukikoshi as Masanobu Tsurii
• Takehiro Hira as Takeki Kume
• Shōta Sometani as Keisuke Hayami
• Shun Miyazato as Naoki Isada
• Fumi Nikaido as Reika Katagiri
• Elina Mizuno as Miya Yasuhara
• Kento Hayashi as Masahiko Maejima
• Kenta as Masahiro Tadenuma
• Kodai Asaka as Yuichiro Nagoshi
• Jodi Lynn Smith as Suzanna Carter
Popular and handsome schoolteacher Seiji Hasumi (Hideaki Itō) is leading the way in the staffroom to try and tackle bullying and exam cheating in the school. He decides it would be a good idea to collect all the kid’s cell phones up in exams and bug the room to see which kids are organizing what, Hasumi getting lonely physics teacher Masanobu Tsurii (Mitsuru Fukikoshi) to set up a jammer in the hall to block cell phone signals.
The kids are none the wiser that their favorite teacher is on to them as Hasumi sets about using his own methods to correct and so control the school. But the group of kids that cheat and bully are not beaten yet and when a constant complaining parent about the bullying at school is mysteriously killed by a tragic accident involving fire and petrol the kids are under suspicion. Tsuri, on the other hand, is suspicious of Hasumi and meets the head bully of the school kids, Keisuke Hayami (Shōta Sometani) to pass on his concerns about their most popular teacher. It seems previous places where Hasumi has worked more people than usual have ended up dead or committed suicide.
Hasumi clearly has a dark side and started to date one of the pretty senior students, 16-year-old Masanobu Tsurii (Mitsuru Fukikoshi), who has a big crush on her teacher. But when another kid witnesses their embrace and kiss on the roof it sets off events that can not be stopped as the schools most popular teacher is anything but behind that veneer, and, in fact, a sociopath as he decides to make sure word doesn’t get around about his sexual behavior and his violent past as the kids get picked off one-by-one as the school Halloween party nears.
What starts out as a rather mundane and bloated movie eventually ends up quite sick and sadistic. Its uncomfortable viewing and you do wonder if the director is enjoying the extreme violence he is creating on screen and maybe rather too much of the audience is, to. Imagine a Battle Royale style revenge for teacher and you are in the right ballpark. It really is harrowing sick stuff for the finale and it does make you feel uncomfortable. I know there is a sadistic side to Takeshi Mike but this was a little too much. Be interesting to see what our well known Akira/Manga writer here feels about it. Should those adult comic books stay comic books?
The political side to it doesn’t come through and the back story and flashback sequences just drag it out even more. The first hour is painfully slow. What is noticeable is just how good looking the cast are and male star ‘Hideake Ito’ as the teacher a beautiful looking chap. The schoolgirls are unhealthy cute too in their shortish skirts and only the older teachers plain in anyway. I know Japan has this schoolgirl fantasy thing where old and middle men go to cuddle girls dressed as dolls and that comes through here.
The subtitles are not too bad but the pure length of the movie at nearly two-and-a-half-hours will scare most of you away. I nearly gave up on it and did fast forward on x2 to get to the bots of this movie that helped it get such good ratings across the internet. I can’t say I enjoyed it much because I don’t think it’s as smart as it makes out and really just a vehicle to deliver the sick massacre idea. It’s well acted and stuff with some good writing but its genre crunching approach and sadistic edge will alienate many. If you love what you do about Manga and Akira comics then you will love this as this is your thing but for me it just went one step too far in the last half-hour.
Imdb.com – 6.7/10.0 (3,324votes)
The Guardian –‘A crazy adult cartoon, marked in equal parts by genuine tabu-busting horror, sheer excess, & an unnerving sense of fun - but the fact that Hasumi honed his cutthroat skills on a business degree... lends his psychopathic behaviour a political edge’.
The NY Post –‘A hard drink to swallow, but it's a vicious horror film with Miike's resonant visual punch’
Variety – "nothing more than a slick slasher pic. Even were the memory of the Breivik massacre, among others, not so fresh, there’s something deeply unseemly about turning a high-school bloodbath into an adrenaline-pumping pleasure ride."[
The Mail-‘"Overlong and incoherent" and "sadly more bore than gore". "It's just too silly to lay a claim to any philosophy, even nihilism."