New opening and ending credits with a techno version of Verdi’s Requiem adding an extra umf to the movie, a lot of the most noticeable 3D consists of CGI blood splatters and bullets firing out of the screen which look a bit too CGI, the blood in particular works well in 3D as it gives the impression of landing on the 3D glasses but it looks a bit unreal and reminds me of a horrible scene from the 1973 film Earthquake, (if you seen it you’ll know right away what I mean).
Having Takashi Kitano in the film changes the plot of the film somewhat from the novel. sticking in a well known actor is bound to do that. But some scenes are out of place making it a little less realistic, having Kitano walk out onto to the island to Noriko while the game is still going on. The relationship between Noriko and Kitano I don’t really get and neither does she it seems.
However Kitano plays up his character well and is quite menacing at the beginning. In fact i’m on his side in this movie. When he set of Yoshitoki’s collar I was glad. Thing is, I don’t like this punk kid, we see near the beginning of the movie Yoshitoki stab Kitano. I have no sympathy for a kid who performs a random act of violence for pleasure. This might be a failure in the film since we are supposed to sympathize over his death and this is the driving force behind Shuya, to get some revenge for his best friend’s death.
While the film is controversial it’s a mild commentary on teen killings in my opinion. These people who are trapped on the island don’t show too much hesitation to kill each other off unlike the novel where they show a bit more restraint. It might have to do with the number youth killings in Japan and the laws which do not punish youth crime as much as they do to Adults. Often I have read reports of youth crime of youths attacking Teachers and parents because they “felt like it” and wanted to experience something before entering adulthood.
Shuya is a bit whiny and idiotic. Shogo and Kazuo are pretty close to their novel counterparts. What we missed out in the novel we get here. Mitsuko Vs Kazuo. Kazuo vs Shogo. However, after reading the novel (which is 615 pages long) this movie feels very condensed and quick. Missing are the elements of mistrust between characters, the relationships between them, the basketball team, Shuya, the Third man and Kotohiki are guys whom are depended upon by their classmates and are the most skilled of their class. We only get a glimpse of their relationship here through flashbacks of them playing basketball. The novel is well worth a read to appreciate these characters more and what these scenes are all about. They didn’t hold much meaning for me when I first saw the film almost 10 years ago.
What really goes well with this movie is the classical music score. I think it’s pretty perfect.
Lastly those Collars. A great idea that’s been used before in Films such as “The Running Man” and one of my favorite Anime’s “Cyber City Oedo”. A great concept.
Unfortunately and as expected so the 3D CGi blood and bullets detract from this film. The only good reason to see it is the opportunity to watch a Cult Asian Extreme movie on the big screen and get all teary eyed with nostalgia.
Favorite Quote: “And then – I’m glad I found true friends.” – Shogo Kawada – student # 5