Sunday, April 18, 2010
Contain spoilers and this is not a film review!
"Kaiji: The Ultimate Gambler" is very different from what I expected. I wasn't sure what to expect from this film because the title sounds like it's about a gambling prodigy who knows every strategies and tricks, became unlucky, lost all his money and made a successful comeback in the end. The synopsis I found online was very vague as well. All I can say is thank goodness it was nothing close to that kind of cliche.
Based on Nobuyuki Fukumoto's hit manga series, psychological thriller "Kaiji" is about a job hopping bum named Kaiji who was 'encouraged' to enter a deadly gambling competition aboard on a cruise ship, to erase a large financial debt that he is responsible for a loan taken by his friend. He then got into a larger debt and had to work as a labor for the same company operated by the cruise ship to pay off his debt. The only way to liberty is to walk through 'The Brave Man's Road' which is a do or die thing.
To a certain point, it reminded me of Kishi Yusuke's "The Crimson Labyrinth" In Kaiji, The Brave Man Road scene was actually screened live to the rich that enjoys the sense of security they posses. When someone falls from that n story tall building or was electrocuted, the audience would laugh, treating these people's life as entertainment. Conversely,The Crimson Labyrinth is a thriller about twelve strangers who find themselves as actors in a preverse snuff film from which only one is permitted to emerge alive which very very much reminded me of Koshun Takami's "Battle Royale".
The common denominator of this 3 films/fiction is the protagonist being entrapped. In fact the entrapment theme is very common in Japanese contempt fiction. I can't help but relate Ryan's "Entrapment Theory" throughout the entire movie. His article has raised many questions and got me thinking for days.