Kaiji: The Ultimate Gambler

2009

Drama

100
IMDb Rating 6.5 10 1,175

Synopsis


Downloaded times
May 29, 2020

Director

Cast

Tatsuya Fujiwara as Light Yagami
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.17 GB
1280*720
Japanese 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
130 min
P/S N/A / N/A
2.4 GB
1920×1080
Japanese 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
130 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by DICK STEEL 8 / 10 / 10

A Nutshell Review: Kaiji The Ultimate Gambler

This was one of the films that I had to give up on during last year's trip to the Tokyo International Film Festival, not that I thought it was no good – the casting reunion of those from the Death Note films is reason enough to flock to this – but because I had got some faith that it'll make it to Singapore because it should have some appeal given the success of Death Note here, and manga to film adaptations have usually done fairly well. So it made it to our shores, and while I was expecting some serious gambling utilizing the rule book from casino card games, Kaiji: The Ultimate Gambler just lives up to its title, where the stakes are deadly, usually that of life or lifestyle. However, the strength of the film is how it metaphorically paints the picture of society with that rich-poor divide, between the elite class and those who are perpetual losers, being dealt the shortest end of the stick in life. It's easy to be on one side of the fence and accuse the other of being stupid, lazy and not worthy of their lot, but put it this way, who doesn't want to be able to live a financially free life with nary a material care since it's all taken care of. One thing in life that's constant, besides change, is that life is never fair, and usually being somebody, or knowing somebody else, may open some doors for you, making it a tad easier to get to one's objectives. The playing field is rarely even, and only made worse if one group decides to exploit the other. Tatsuya Fujiwara plays the titular role Kaiji, a down and out young adult who's living his life without much aim, being painted an illusion by Endo (Yuki Amami) who had conned him into boarding a ship, on the hopes that by playing a game onboard would change his debt- ridden life as it is. It's a life-changing experience alright, one that Kaiji soon finds himself stuck in, being held against his wishes but on a principle that he made, and then sucked into an underground social system which is aimed squarely at how we, the workers, get bordered into a routine of work-rest-eat-drink, and a financial system that's basically out to regain every penny of reward given for honest work, and that's in the form of induced consumerism. And that's how I suppose the rich and powerful can keep a stranglehold on the common folk, keeping them in despair until they resign to their "fate" that there's no way out of the vicious circle, and to conform and continue in their routine so as to fuel the economy. With each revelation comes Kaiji's resolve to get out of the system, only to find more obstacles in his way, becoming mere pawns of entertainment to the idle rich folks, one of whom is the chairman of a powerful conglomerate known as "Teiai" (or Love Emperor, played by Kei Sato). The key entertaining moments in the film are of course the death-defying situations the gamblers are put through, and it turns out more to be like problem-solving coupled with going up against stacked odds. Fans of Kenichi Matsuyama will also be pleased that their idol had gotten a supporting role here looking quite rugged with his unshaven look, and instead of being at loggerheads with Fujiwara's Kaiji, it's a welcome change to see the two actors in roles that require support from each other. Teruyuki Kagawa (of Tokyo Sonata) also shines as the main over-confident villain in the film, whose bright idea it was to capture idling youths and to put them to work as slaves for Teiai, only to find himself setting up an adversary in Kaiji, adding to his reputation of not being well-liked. Since it's adapted from the manga, the three key gambling moments were drawn from the books, although they come with minor tweaks to allow for a cinematic interpretation. Amongst the three games of Restricted Rock Paper Scissors, Human Derby and E-Card, which is an interesting game of chance involving Citizen, Emperor and Slave cards, director Toya Sato (who also helmed Gokusen the Movie) should be given credit for crafting the games and heightening tensions in an order of a crescendo befitting of a grand hurrah, striking a balance between the need to entertain, and to tickle that mind of yours in a battle of wits. There's a certain formula employed as well, with everything explained toward the end in a series of flashbacks, so yeah, the answers will be given after you exercised that noodle a little. In some ways, the games were played in a fashion similar to how Jigsaw designed his. With the latter, the games serve as a lesson to those who had lived the good life, to teach them to be contented with their lot and not take life for granted. With this, it's in a way to break the barrier of zero confidence amongst those who are deemed losers in life, giving them monetary incentives to participate in death-defying games, in order to make them realize that through hard work and surpassing what is deemed impossible, will the survivors know that reward only comes from performance. Sounds a little like our workfare scheme, minus the death elements. Like any manga inspired or movie adapted from graphic novels, the film barely scratched the surface of its rich origin material. As such, do keep your eyes peeled for a sequel currently scheduled for a 2011 debut. Expect more death-defying games, battle of wits, and a caution to those who are too smart for their own good, and if those elements in a film are your cup of tea then you shouldn't miss this!

Reviewed by CountZero313 10 / 10 / 10

an insult

Out there somewhere, in a parallel universe, the rules of film-making are inverted. Rule number 1: You cannot have too much exposition. Visual storytelling is replaced by dialogue-heavy scenes, the more the better. Rule number 2: Over-acting is better than acting. If you are really thirsty and you drink a beer, you have to close your eyes, look to the heavens, ooh and ah, fall to your knees, and declare out loud how damn GOOD it tastes, all the while talking to yourself. You know, like in a beer commercial. The bad news is, director Toya Sato has escaped from that parallel universe into ours, and brought this clunking, tawdry, disjointed insult to the proud tradition of Japanese cinema with him. The story, such as it is, is that Kaiji has a huge gambling debt and his life is going nowhere. That leads him to becoming the plaything of a misanthropic multi-billionaire building a nuclear shelter using slave labour and with a penchant for life-and-death gambling games. Not a bad premise, but utterly sunk in this execution. If film is stories told by pictures, and the Japanese are a non-verbal culture, could someone please tell me why there is so much TALKING in this film? Kaiji crosses a narrow bridge 200 meters in the air. He looks behind to see that his friend has fallen. The audience can see he has fallen. But Kaiji tells us: "He has fallen." Endo watches a five-card game. The players play three cards, and each play is a draw. They have two cards left. We can see this, but somehow we get to hear Endo's thoughts, which tell us: "After three cards played it is a draw. It is down to the last two cards." Who exactly is this insipid narration for? Is there a retarded baboon wearing earplugs and a blindfold sitting at the back of the theatre that Sato felt the need to accommodate? I have given only two examples, but the whole film is like this. The most glaringly obvious action is either replayed, or explained verbosely by one character to another. Characterization is practically non-existent. Kaiji is a gambler, but where he came from, how he ended up in such a rut, is never mentioned. He empathises with one of his fellow victims, but it is not clear why. At his ostensible moment of triumph, he is celebrating gambling wins and downing a beer - despite the horror of watching all of his comrades in arms falling from the aforementioned narrow bridge. He starts the movie caring only for himself, and finishes it the same way. And we know no more about him. Endo is a gangster but seems taken by Kaiji, even though she is fully complicit in the murder and mayhem games that afflict him. It turns out she is no good, and this puts a period on the film's major failing - there is no one to like. All of the characters start out as reprehensible, and never redeem themselves. They never grow, learn, or reflect. Plotting is flimsy. Kaiji at one point conveniently produces a magic marker to draw with, despite just being released from a dungeon. The dungeon prisoners suddenly get a TV in their cell where no one existed before. At one point, on a ship, a left-over card in the game seals Kaiji's fate. It is a huge moment story-wise, propelling us into the next sequence. But as the game starts with an even number of cards and they are discarded two at a time, it is impossible for there to be one left-over card. Lazy, ill-disciplined scripting at its worst. Pacing is uneven to say the least. The bridge crossing takes an eternity, as Kaiji and his older pal have a sentimental outpouring about their lives so far. And yet when we come back to the job at hand - crossing the bridge - we find out that the guy on the other bridge has made no progress during the course of the interminable conversation. I mean, what was he doing all this time? Tatsuya Fujiwara overacts furiously. His beer-drinking antics are just shameful, the worst hamming since... well, since the last TV director was allowed to make a Japanese film. Amami is usually classy, but even she can't get out of TV mode and comes across as wooden. Ken'ichi Matsuyama makes a cameo, and seems a class apart, making effective use of that menacing stare of his. Probably because he appears less, he took less direction from Sato, and therefore acts better. Teruyuki Kagawa, usually so reliable and watchable, is dragged under by too-close close-ups, patchy pacing, and the failure to resist cranking it up a couple of notches. A better director would have gotten a better performance, one feels. It is incredulous that with this budget and this cast Kaiji turns out to be so mind-numbingly awful. Based on a comic, with a TV director, didn't someone realise that the element 'cinema' needed to be added to the equation? Sato and friends - go to film school, and learn the basics. Please. Or at least go back to your parallel universe.

Reviewed by george_a_romero 10 / 10 / 10

Brilliant!

The colourful cast of Death Note (2006) reunite for this inspired manga/anime adaptation. It is a riveting sizzler of a movie made with nerve-jangling Japanese brutality. Kaiji is a down and out thirty-year-old blue-collar loser who has no luck in life. He is bored of his dead-end job at the hypermarket, irritated that pompous and prosperous people drive around in Mercedes and depressed that he never has enough dough to rise above his comatose lifestyle. One day, a debt collector arrives at his flat to offer him the chance to change his empty existence: go on a cruise with other down and outs, gamble, and repay his debts in the ultimate game of deception. If you win, you start your life afresh, if you lose, well, you will never want to fool around with rock-paper-scissors again because Brave Men Road is the only way to escape 15-years of forced underground slave labour. Kaiji: The Ultimate Gambler (2009) examines the languor of Japanese consumer culture: work, devour, and squander your verve in an everlasting cycle of mass suppression that upholds the lower-class/upper-class divide. This regimented Metropolis style nightmare comes to fruition in the symbolic utopian underground kingdom that blue-collar slave workers must construct for aristocratic city-dwellers. The languid masses march in union, take showers together and buy beer and munchies with their meagre pay to nullify and distract themselves from their authoritarianism. The moral at the heart of Kaiji is simple: if you want to achieve your dreams in this hum/drum existence, you have to wake up, fight, and live recklessly. Would you be willing to walk across an electrified beam between two skyscrapers to pay off your debts while superficial business executives watch you on television screens? If you want to rise above your own worthless comatose lifestyle, why not take up the challenge, you could win lots of money because that is what Brave Men Road is all about, or is it… Verdict: This riveting Battle Royale intoned masterpiece is made with nail-biting suspense, brain-teasing intelligence and mind-blowing wit:-

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