For Fujiwara, everything seems to be going well - he is doing well in high school, he is good looking and also a good fighter. One day, he was suddenly being attacked by a group of students without any provocation. He then found out there is a mysterious violent game that is being spread through mobile phone in the school. Students who played the game became hypnotized and will begin to fight senselessly. Fujiwara fought hard and finally discover the terrifying secret.
If you haven’t seen or heard anything about this movie before this DVD, you’re not alone- this reviewer hadn’t either. The only hint that I had going into it was thinking that it would be something like that controversial Japanese film back in 2000, “Battle Royale”, best appreciated as a dystopia fiction on juvenile delinquency. But as much as “Tokyo Gore School” touts itself as the next “Battle Royale”, it isn’t.
Here the raison d’être for the game is simply this- privacy protection. Apparently, some high-school students who have joined an online forum realise that they have to unwittingly participate in an elimination game to prevent their own secrets from being disseminated by someone else. Why these students would so gullibly offer up their deepest darkest secrets is decidedly sketchy, and this important detail is in fact one of the most glaring logical loopholes of the movie.
It is also the chief reason why “Tokyo Gore School” never even comes close to the brilliant “Battle Royale”, for what it lacks is really purpose to all that mayhem. Yes, “Battle Royale” was violent in parts, but there was a moral, a message behind it, something which “Tokyo Gore School” sorely lacks. What’s left then is to watch the stylised parts between uniformed high-school students- but wait, haven’t we already seen that somewhere?
Yes we have- in “Crows Zero” and its sequel, that is. Sadly, even as a glorified manga fantasy, “Tokyo Gore School” doesn’t make the grade. Firstly, it doesn’t have characters that interest you a bit. Its lead character Fujiwara, whose point of view the movie tells its story from, is at best dull and actor Yusuke Yamada’s performance doesn’t make him more appealing. Secondly, its fight scenes are poorly choreographed and not in the least bit engaging. The fact that there are many of these extended tedious sequences makes watching it even more frustrating.
Perhaps then the timely question to ask is- ought we to have heard of this movie? And the answer is a definite no. Although it touts itself as another “Battle Royale”, it simply doesn’t have the smarts or the social acuity that it should. Its best comparison would be as a poor man’s version of “Crows Zero” and even then, it’s not likely you’d be satisfied after watching it.
The Dolby 2.0 audio is as flat and uninvolving as the movie. Visuals are clear, but the colours in the movie appear washed out on screen.
Review by Gabriel Chong
Posted on 24 January 2010