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DVD Review

DVD cover

Tokyo Gore School


Starring: Masato Hyûgaji, Takafumi Imai and Kenta Itogi
Manga Entertainment
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 18
Available 16 August 2010

Bullying is rife at his high school, like many others, but Fujiwara is generally left alone. That is until shortly after a student commits suicide by jumping from the roof of the school. Fujiwara is chased by a group of boys and barely escapes. He knows nothing about 'the game' but is obliged to learn quickly. It turns out that somebody has set up a dangerous and undetectable game by putting everyone's details on a website, along with an individual secret which everyone is desperate to protect. Points are earned by confronting other students, winning a clash and using those points to delete some of your personal details. The vanquished also has his or her secret revealed. A form of GPS tracking informs each participating student where their opposition lies. Fujiwara is initially on the run, but he soon discovers that the only way to prevent his devastating secret from being revealed is to win the game. But that's easier said than done. The worms have turned, and the existing bullies have become more sadistic...

Whatever has possessed director Yohei Fukuda and his merry band of filmmakers to label this film in such a derogatory manner. In doing so, he has alienated a large percentage of his perspective audience from the outset. Of course Fukuda is already reasonably well-known for horror, with such releases as Grotesque, and Chanbara Beauty - so it is reasonable to assume that he is appealing to his existing viewers. Consequentially, I had already partially decided that the film would serve up buckets of blood and offal, for no good reason other than effect. However, the title is misleading, to say the least; Tokyo Gore School is an exciting survival of the fittest mini-suspense-thriller, which tackles a problem area within all schools and emerges with an original (at least for the West) theme.

Much of school bullying these days comes in the form of text messages, emails and illicit websites promoting ridicule or hatred, so the film's subject matter is highly topical and will, no doubt, invite much discussion. The interesting part of the premise is that someone has set up a vicious, twisted game which almost every student is obliged to participate in, in order to protect their own privacy as well as their physical well-being. They have no choice so, in effect, the only way to get out is to try to win the game. This then turns the passive into the aggressive, just to maintain the protection of their personal details and secret.

Lots of provocative and thought-provoking issues at play here then. However, it wouldn't work so realistically if it wasn't for the fact it's both grounded and entertaining as a film-going experience. The characters are well fleshed-out without knowing that much about them - even though that sounds like a contradiction in terms. The chase sequences through the streets use all the structures and locations to their utmost, so that you are never once bored with the pursuit, and there are clumsy attempts at martial arts which are closer to a street brawl mishmash of techniques - as you would expect.

I have nothing but praise for this Japanese film. It is a volatile mix of spite, revenge and morals played-out in a highly watchable manner. If Tokyo Gore School had contained an array of special features it would certainly have gained a nine. But unfortunately, and rather disappointingly, it has none.


Ty Power

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