Directed by Kazuyoshi Kumakiri
Cast: Sumiko Mikami, Shunsuke Sawada, Shigeru Bokuda & Kentaro Ogiso

1998/103 mins/Color/2.0 Dolby Surround
1.33:1/Japanese/Japan/PAL Region 2

Review from the Japan Shock DVD

Aizawa, the leader of a left-wing radical student group, is sent to jail. His cell mate, Fujiwara is released and he's asked to join Aizawa's group once outside. Much to Fujiwara's surprise it is now Aizawa's girlfriend, Masami who's now in charge. What first started out as a left-wing group is soon becoming Masami's own little party club. She switches of sexual partners whenever she can and seems to take her role all too much seriously but in the wrong direction. She is manipulative and dangerous... like all woman you would say!

When they found out that Aizawa has commited suicide in his cell, the group soon starts to deteriorate and slowly destroy itself. Everyone starts to freak out... especially Masami. When one of the member decide to leave the group, she order the others to take him to the woods and beat, torture and finally kill him with a shotgun bullet through the head. But Masami isn't done... what if she would play with the exposed brain of the poor guy?! Soon everyone turns against each other as madness ensues.

Head getting explosed in half, penis amputation, shotgun through a vagina, harakiri with a samurai sword... all of these and more are part of KICHIKU. The problem is that all this takes place in the last 15 minutes... leaving us with 80 something minutes of mumbo jumbo about the left-wing movement of Japan in the 1970s which I really don't know much about. Shame on me, I know! The film starts out way too slow and we really have no idea as to where we are taken as a viewer. Since none of the characters are charismatic we simply don't care what happens to them, even the gruesome gore scenes feels outta place within the film and are the only reason to endure the rest.

Believe it or not but KICHIKU has actually won praises from festivals all around the world, rather strange from such an extremely violent and politic film that takes no prisoner. KICHIKU was Kumakiri's graduating thesis for the Osaka Art College, shot in 16 mm with a budget of $30,000. According to the director, there is no political message in the film - yeah right!

Japan Shock has released Kumakiri's film on DVD for the first time if I remember correctly. This edition is limited to only 2500 copies so hurry up and get yours! Like I mentioned above, the film was shot on 16 mm so it is correctly presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The image is washed out, bland and too soft... yet I don't think we will ever see a "better" version of this film on DVD. As for the audio, the 2.0 Dolby Surround "remastered" track is filled with hum and hiss which weren't part of the soundtrack when I saw the film at the Fantasia Film Festival some years ago. Maybe they didn't really care about the "quality" of their disc or maybe they got a bad print to work from. The disc features English, German and Dutch subtitles which are easy to read. There's a good but badly video shot 30 minutes 'Making Of' which features optional subs. Surprisingly it looks like they had a lotta fun making this film! This segment mostly takes us behind how each violent scenes in the film were first rehearshed then acted. There is also a 'Picture Gallery' and a trailer which is nicely put together and actually could make you want to see the whole thing! The film is separated in only 8 chapters, the very cool 3d animated menus are remiscent of the DOOM video game. There is no inlay card or booklet. The DVD comes in a keep case which comes in a cardbox.

A film worth seeing for the last 15 minutes and a DVD which Japan Shock should have given more attention to especially due to the rarety of the film.





This Film Features:

Review by Kim Dubuisson. All Right Reserved. 2004. ©