Kichiku – The Banquet of the Beasts (1997) – By Duane L. Martin

I’ve seen reviews for this film that talk about how bloody and violent and gory it is. Truth be told, it is quite violent, and some of the violence is pretty nasty, but the gore levels aren’t anything I haven’t seen before, and I’ve actually seen movies like The Story of Ricky that did it a whole lot better. I guess The Story of Ricky kind of ruined me for other films because while it was really really nasty and bloody and violent, it managed to be at the same time extremely fun and highly entertaining. Ever since I first saw that film, I’ve tended to use it as a benchmark against everything else that was supposed to be ultra violent and gory, and I haven’t yet come across anything that measures up.

Kichiku is not the splatterfest that some people make it out to be. The first forty minutes of the film are mainly set up and interaction scenes that build up to the violence and insanity that comes later on. Unfortunately, there’s far too many pointless and needlessly long scenes in this film, and not only does that tend to create boredom and make you want to reach for the fast forward button, but it also causes the movie to have a running time of 104 minutes. With proper editing and good pacing, they could have told the exact same story and made it better and more exciting for the viewer. If the film had been cut down to from 104 minutes to around 85 minutes, and the pacing had been worked out better, I think the movie would have been far more enjoyable. It seems like this was a case of throwing pretty much everything but the kitchen sink into the film, and countless numbers of shots were left in that were not necessary at all to the telling of the story.

Now when I say this movie wasn’t a splatterfest, I don’t mean to say there wasn’t any cool gory parts at all. In fact, there’s a couple of really cool ones that make you wonder why there weren’t more like them. From what I can tell, this movie wasn’t intended to be an all out bloodbath anyway. It’s actually more of a psychological flick than a gore flick and to that end, writer / director Kazuyoshi Kumakiri did a pretty good job of making it heavily psychological.

The main character Masami was the girlfriend of the leader of a small political group, and while he’s in prison, she takes over. Well that was about the biggest mistake Aizawa could have made, as she slips deeper and deeper into psychosis and paranoia. She starts having her people steal to get them money and she’s pretty much like the group’s doorknob, if you know what I mean. Everyone gets a turn. There’s not much point in going in depth into the story, because it can all pretty much be summed up in a sentence or two. She takes over the group, becomes a control freak, gets paranoid, starts killing people she thinks are against her, gets everyone to go along with the killing, blows the top of one guys head off with a shotgun, cuts off another guy’s penis, bites off yet another guy’s penis, giggles insanely from the first murder on, and then dies in a rather inventive way when the guy who’s penis she bit off kills her. So there’s really not much in the way of story here. It’s a simple plot, and it’s played out fairly well except for the fact that I can’t imagine people actually going along with Masami after she goes insane. Normal people just wouldn’t do stuff like this, and these people all seemed pretty normal for the most part before she took over.

So did I like the movie? Not really, but it was ok. I’ve definitely seen worse. These films that are supposed to be shocking and gory tend more often than not to come out lacking in any real entertainment value because they’re so focused on being shocking and disturbing that they forget that what they’re really supposed to be doing is entertaining the viewer. Isn’t that after all why we watch movies in the first place? Another problem I had with the movie is that there wasn’t even a single person that I really cared about. They all end up dead at the end anyway though, which is what I was hoping for while I watched it. There’s actually two guys who were more innocent than the rest that you were supposed to care about, and I guess I did a little, but when they were killed, I found that I didn’t really care in the least. When I watch a film, I want to care about at least one person in it, otherwise I feel like I wasted my time. It’s like walking into a room full of people you don’t like and spending two hours having to talk to them, but only about stuff they want to talk about. You don’t really care about any of them and at the end of the two hours you feel like you’ve completely wasted your time. I guess that’s a little exteme, but you get my meaning.

If you’re a fan of psychological films and violence then you’re probably going to be able to really get into this film, and that’s great. Everyone has their own tastes, and I know that there’s a lot of people out there who would probably love this film, so if you’re one of those people, then don’t be put off by my review. By all means see it and make your own decision, because for the people that would like a movie like this, I’m sure it would be quite enjoyable. I have some insight that allows me to make a statement like that because I have a friend who does love these kinds of movies and I’m sure he’d love this one. As for me personally, I prefer to see gore films that have genuine entertainment value, and in my book, this one just didn’t. I’m also not overly into psychological dramas, so that’s another reason the whole psychological aspect of this movie didn’t overly appeal to me.

Kichiku is the first dual disc release from ArtsmagicDVD. The first disc is the movie by itself and the second disc is loaded with special features. It has an introduction by Tom Mes, a featurette on the making of Kichiku, reactions to the film and interviews with the director Kazuyoshi Kumakiri, cameraman Kiyoaki Hashimoto and the four lead actors Tomohiro Zaizen, Shunsuke Sawada, Shigeru Bokuda and Kentako Ogiso. There’s also the trailer for the film and biographies & filmographies as well.

If you’d like to pick up this disc, or check out some of ArtsmagicDVD’s other releases you can check out their website at http://www.artsmagicdvd.com.