Also known as BANQUET OF THE BEASTS, the movie is based upon the Asama-Sanso Incident. During a ten-day siege in 1972 at Karuizawa, members of the United Red Army (URA) turned against themselves, resulting in a blood bath. And in KICHIKU DAI ENKAI, the blood bath’s ultimately explored at great lengths.

Some may trash Kazuyoshi Kumakiri’s film as a slow moving student project, but that’s overly harsh. The movie is slow in a very arthouse sort of way, and what sometimes seems to be an homage to David Lynch, yet this does not mean the characters are any less compelling, even if the story lacks a bit of substance.

In KICHIKU DAI ENKAI, a political group waits for their leader’s triumphant return from prison. In the meantime, his girlfriend, played by Sumiko Mikami in her only film role, keeps the home fires burning by having sex with the guys in the crew and bullying them. Ultimately, she snaps, which leads to torture, blood, muck, rape, penal removal, and even more carnage.

The acting’s strong, the special makeup effects are quite impressive, and the film certainly ends up fittingly in the category of “extreme horror” and “disturbing cinema” – thanks to a few compelling scenes, especially one involving Mikami at the mercy of a fellow cohort and a ready to blast shotgun.

In a way, much like George Lucas’s THX 1138 (1971), KICHIKU DAI ENKAI attracted others upon Kumakiri’s graduation from film school, and he has gone on to helm eighteen more feature film projects. Granted, he’s not a multi-millionaire out to destroy his original work, but this film brought the young director much recognition in his native Japan.

Before I had learned about the link to the aforementioned URA incident, I was enamored on a thematic level, and thought Kumakiri chose to comment on his generation and its lack of vision thanks to an overwhelming sense of apathy and a general disdain for the status quo. With the climax, it seemed to be a comment that the disintegration of intellectual youth would lead to a bloody end to the great island nation. Then again, even without the tie in to actual events, the themes hold up, as well as the director’s fear for Japan’s future.

KICHIKU DAI ENKAI may not be perfect, mostly due to pace and some issues regarding narrative structure, but the movie will not disappoint those who enjoy violence and gore – or want to see one of those films labeled as “forbidden fruit” by the masses.

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