“Face the reality & get the message”
Kichiku Dai Enkai or Banquet Of The Beasts to give the film its English title is a student film made over two years by writer/director Kazuyoshi Kumakiri & is an incredible achievement. Taking inspiration from the Asamo Sanso incident in the 70s, Kumakiri has fashioned a complex & powerful film about what happens when madness & paranoia turns friends against each other with violence consequences.
Fujiwara is being released from prison, his cellmate Aizawa asks him a favour. Aizawa is the leader of a revolutionary group & has left his girlfriend Masami in charge. He asks that Fujiwara visits & checks on the group. Fujiwara does this & finds a gang that has lost its way under Masami. She is using a combination of sex & intimidation to keep control of the group. She kicks out the chief dissenter Yamane & throws an enkai party to welcome Fujiwara to the gang. Despite this, there is still disquiet in the gang both Kumagaya & Sugihara are unhappy with Masami’s leadership. Unable to cope in prison Aizwara kills himself. It is this news that sends the gang over the edge, Masami in particular becomes paranoid & desperate. The violence escalates as the gang turn on each other.
Kichiku is not a film for everyone. Grainy, brutal, nihilistic & unevenly acted. The first half of the movie moves at a snail’s pace. Nothing of any real relevance happens in the first hour. Even I found this to be a tad tedious. The second half of the movie is incredibly, graphically violent. Kichiku goes from a dialogue heavy melodrama to an all out splatter movie in a matter of seconds. There is the now famous shotgun decapitation & another scene where the shotgun is used on a woman in the most painful way imaginable. Along with castration, mutilation & an insane amount of blood, the second half of the movie is brutal. Kichiku is a movie full of metaphors & analogies, none more than what happens when leadership is removed & a power vacuum is created. Kumakiri it seems, is certainly trying to make a political point with Kichiku. Has he succeeded? To be honest I’m not the person to ask. My knowledge of global & Japanese politics is limited. All I can tell you is Kumakiri has made an impressive debut film that, while not appealing to all, will impress if you give it a chance.
Surprisingly The BBFC have passed Kichiku uncut (especially in light of their stance on sexual violence) so it can been seen legally in The UK. If you’re in the mood for something different you could try Kichiku, it’s certainly worth a watch.