- Overall 9.5
- Story 8.5
- Acting/Cast 9.0
- Music 9.0
- Rewatch Value 8.0
What a brilliant movie. Brilliantly odd, I would argue. Chilling music and blood splashing everywhere? Definitely my kind.
I'm a survival games trash. As a viewer, I want to be challenged and left speechless, itching everywhere after the movie ends. And right now my mind feels really itchy.
Firstly, the plot. I had no idea this is directed by Takashi Miike (and I feel so ashamed for that, his movies are my read more jam). My pick was a simple — what the hell is this — and, now that I've just watched it, it updated to — what the hell was that. But the feel of the story, definitely quality, so familiar to my taste. At the beginning, I couldn't grasp what was going on. There isn't much explanation about what's really going on, and I think this way, it feels more heavy and challenging. But the plot blooms with the action, since it isn't just a simple survival rush. Wouldn't that be too boring?
I really enjoyed the symbolism, so witty and carefully linked to the plot and the characters. If I were to plunge deeper, I might spoil, so I won't do it. I assume some won't know what every survival game stands for, so if you don't, after (or before) watching the movie, take some time to browse about Daruma, Maneki Neko, Kokeshi, Shirou Kuma and Matryoshka. It will help you understand the movie way better (more like, get you to the intrigued but excited mood). I admit at first I didn't pay much attention to that aspect, because I was too busy grinning through the first game, but when I saw Maneki Neko, it hit me — wait, it's more than this.
The acting was neat, young and talented actors. Usually when I watch a movie (either Japanese or Korean), there are 80% chances a character would make me go — this actor doesn't suit them at all. In this movie, though, the feel of every actor matches the character. Amaya Takeru left me speechless, I mean, Kamiki Ryunosuke was a match made in heaven.
If it's survival, of course there's going to be blood. But oh, the gore displayed in this movie is just so damn hilarious and entertaining. Just like in Lesson of the evil. Unnecessary gore lefts me disappointed. And the music, on point - either thrilling, emotional or simply sassy. Such a classy combination.
Another great thing about this movie is the visuals. I wouldn't call them stunning, but neither poor; simply atmospheric. Japanese movies would either pull your soul into the screen or leave you internally crying, because it's just so hard to watch. Given the plot, this could have been a really, really awkward trip for the eyes, if the visuals were screaming failure. But it was truly fun and colorful. Each level of the game feels different. I can't type enough how good the atmosphere was.
So the blood, the music and the visuals, all knitted together to fit the psychological theme. The usual — who's the strongest? who's the smartest? are the kind ones the weakest? can trust be harmful? what qualities do you need in order to survive? is there a reason to survive? Personally, the relationship between Takahata Shun and Amaya Takeru kept me on my toes the whole time. It felt so interesting, exciting, but a little lacking. Maybe because I was expecting more? I don't know, but I wish it were more. We were given the challenge to choose (or not) between those two strong characters, but with no real closure to their real selves. What do they really believe in? How do they really see each other? Parts of them were displayed mainly through the games, symbolically, with dim peeks into their individual state. There are so many questions left unanswered and I can't help but fry my mind trying to find some hints. If that's what the movie wants, then yes, thank you, it will definitely stain my mind for a long time. Those plot twists and the ending caressed my soul.
There was so much going on, it would have been impossible to fill those holes without killing the fresh pace. And for that, this is what I call a very smart, wonderfully challenging movie. It's meant to leave questions behind, and answer as little as it can. I blame the wonderful Miike for this addictive feel.
The movie can't be rewatched for the thrill, but I would rewatch it more for the fun it manages to give. I recommend this to every thirsty brain out there. The dark humor squad would definitely enjoy this one, I assure you.