Good ol' Third Window Films have been tagging this new release from Tetuya Mariko as 'The most extreme 108 minutes in Japanese cinema history.' Not 97 minutes, or even 124 minutes. Specifically 108. Now, lines like this will typically only ever lead to disappointment. But, trusting Adam Torel at Third Window's cinematic filter, I went into this one with anticipation, but a slight air of trepidation. We open with a scathing guitar over shots of a sleepy harbour, where Shota spies his brother, Taira (played by the now more grown up Yuya Yagira), being beaten up by a gang of local thugs. Chased off by Taira's boss, he dusts himself off and chases off into the distance, to escape his everyday life and court death. The next sixty (not quite 108) minutes or so are a beat 'em up style journey as Taira makes his way into town, picking a fight with literally any male he comes into contact with. He provokes, encourages and goads any would-be opponents to hit him, taking some beatings, but always coming back for more. Without a thought in his mind, like a rabid dog, he only wants to fight. His rage of destruction leaves a trail and soon gains him attention, picking up the cowardly Yuya along the way, an irritating accomplice that films his actions; a youth desensitised to morality, taking satisfaction only in what he can share on social media, eventually building up the meagre courage to hit those weaker than him; while Taira hits out at anybody in his path. This is quite uncomfortable viewing. The fights are often filmed in single takes, with actors tiring, turning fights into grapples, rather than the cinematic endless fist fights often portrayed in movies. The impact of blows is felt through the screen, without dramatic sound effects in accompaniment, leaving their severity to speak for themselves. The first two-thirds are simply violence without any real purpose, other than the understanding that Taira has lost all sense of meaning for the world. In parts, this is delivering on its extreme promises. However, with films of this nature, an endless stream of violence will only end up becoming boring for the audience. Once seen long enough, you too will become desensitised to the violence. This is perhaps where 'Destruction Babies' starts to lose its way, if Taira already hadn't. Fleeing the town with the kidnapped Nana, they lack a clear direction, as does the film momentarily, sitting in wait until Nana's fury is unleashed at her situation resulting in murder. A brief return to senseless violence draws the trio's screen presence to a close. We then switch back to Shota, where we started, searching for his fugitive brother to no avail. It is in Taira's opposite, his more sensitive younger brother, that we find a sense of meaning in all this violence. His earnest search for his brother fruitless, he is left abandoned by friends and family, the result of violent self- interest. Just before the film's conclusion, we see the traditional portable shrine race, with two competing groups vying for superiority. A raucous and violent affair, we see all men pushing and fighting each other for position. The event is eluded to throughout the film, indicating violence is all around us, celebrated and nothing new, and these 'destruction babies' are a product of a long line of history and cultural norms. Though this violence now takes new forms: Yuya's cowardly ways of attacking those weaker than him, filming the deeds for prosperity, and social media sharing, perhaps the most destructive of a youth seeking faster and more immediate extremes. Taira's re-emergence in the final shot states that violence is here to stay, with the path to destruction for humanity only to continue.
Comedy / Drama / Thriller
Comedy / Drama / Thriller
At some point beating and ravaging others becomes a routine pastime when two kids go on a rampage. Taira picks his target of men and goes for broke, while Kitahara puts down his camera long...
January 13, 2020