Stephen reviews: Strait Jacket (2007)

Strait Jacket [ ストレイト・ジャケット] (2007)
AKA Strait Jacket – Legend of the Demon Hunter

Starring Ai Maeda, Kei Shindou, Shinichiro Miki, Akira Sasanuma, Asami Imai

Directed by Shinji Ushiro


Do you like Full Metal Alchemist, but wish it had a bit more angst? Then Strait Jacket is the movie for you. I don’t mean this as an insult, but there is a good deal of similarity between the two. Both feature a scientific use of magic that’s heavy on mystic symbols and big suits of armor in a world with somewhat modern technology and an ample supply of mutated human monsters rampaging about.

Where the two stories differ is that Strait Jacket‘s main character, Reiot, doesn’t get involved with changing the course of nations. It instead focuses on a more personal scale, exploring his sense of overwhelming guilt for the mistakes of his past. He is a hunter of demons, who are former humans mutated into deranged monsters by unprotected exposure to magic. It is Reiot’s recognition that these demons are, or at least were, humans that makes him see himself as a mass murderer.

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Battle Royale II: Requiem (2003)

movie1251Battle Royale II: Requiem [バトル・ロワイアルII 【鎮魂歌】] (2003)

Starring Tatsuya Fujiwara, Ai Maeda, Shugo Oshinari, Ayana Sakai, Haruka Suenaga, Yuma Ishigaki, Miyuki Kanbe, Masaya Kikawada, Yoko Maki, Yuki Ito, Natsuki Kato

Directed by Kenta Fukasaku

Expectations: Not much at all. I don’t see how a sequel to Battle Royale can be anything more than a less satisfying retread.

onestar


[If you haven’t seen Battle Royale, this will spoil it. There’s no other way to do it, so just watch the original and then come back and read why you should never watch its sequel.]

If I want to see a particular movie, nothing can dissuade me from watching it. Even after watching Battle Royale, and realizing that there was no way in hell a sequel could recapture its magic, I still went into this movie optimistic. Even knowing the horrible critical and public reception this sequel received, I still pushed play hoping that it was all just a misunderstanding and that I’d be able to enjoy the sequel for what it is, even if it is something less than Battle Royale. I simply wasn’t ready for a movie this bad — just fundamentally bad — and I’d advise anyone who’s only seen Battle Royale to keep it that way.

Battle Royale II: Requiem is not based on a novel like the original, this one is a completely original story by Kinji Fukusaka’s son (and Battle Royale screenwriter), Kenta Fukusaka. I have to give him credit for trying something different and actively avoiding a simple rehash of what had already been done. But in going so off the rails in an effort to give the story weight and pathos (which a simple rehash would never achieve), Battle Royale II actually achieves less than it would have as that simple rehash. I actually wish Kenta Fukusaka didn’t know the meaning of the word “ambition” and had just gone back to the well to deliver another, straightforward Battle Royale event.

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