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United Red Army

United Red Army (2011)

tomatometer

80

Average Rating: 7.2/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 1

No consensus yet.

audience

65

liked it
Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 2,149

My Rating

Movie Info

Shot in a raw verite style, United Red Army explores the political unrest of 1960s Japan, when mass student uprisings coincided with the beginnings of the far-left United Red Army group, which tortured and murdered its "deviant" members during a 1972 training session. Mr. Wakamatsu's harrowing film depicts the famed Asama-Sanso incident, which began when members of the United Red Army assassinated 14 of its own, during a group "self-criticism" session, and then broke into a holiday lodge below

Unrated,

Art House & International, Drama

Jan 17, 2012

$1.2k

Lorber Films - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (12) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (9) | Rotten (1) | DVD (1)

If you're keeping tabs on the recent cinematic reconsideration of 1960s and '70s left-wing terrorism, Wakamatsu's devastating chronicle of the ultra-violent fringe of Japanese student radicalism is a must-see.

May 31, 2011 Full Review Source: Salon.com
Salon.com
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Running more than three hours, "United Red Army" is a raw mix of documentary and fiction...

May 27, 2011 Full Review Source: New York Post
New York Post
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The stilted and awkward physical and vocal performances in combination with the visually flat cinematography bring to mind the look, sound and visual texture of American daytime soaps, an association that perversely makes the movie more and more watchable.

May 26, 2011 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film's commitment to representing the harsh truths of an unfortunate historical moment is admirable, but it tends to grate rather than illuminate.

May 25, 2011 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Grueling [but] engrossing.

May 24, 2011 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

...historical drama as psychological thriller.

February 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Parallax View
Parallax View

Kôji Wakamatsu's messy, punishing 2008 meta-docudrama about the cult-like sect of 1970s Japanese revolutionaries gets a long-overdue release.

May 25, 2011 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

Kôji Wakamatsu's achievement is to show us how that violence can turn as easily inward as it does out.

May 22, 2011 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Fusing together documentary footage and tense dramatization, Wakamatsu has produced the kind of heterogeneous cinematic object that doesn't usually get released in the U.S. unless it takes place in the Thai jungle.

May 11, 2011 Full Review Source: Film Comment Magazine
Film Comment Magazine

Compelling tale of ultraleftism becoming nihilistic in Japan.

November 22, 2010 Full Review Source: rec.arts.movies.reviews
rec.arts.movies.reviews

Audience Reviews for United Red Army

Just to show that Quentin Tarantino is not the only director who explores history while rifling through multiple genres in epic fashion, along comes "United Red Army" which sticks closer to stated fact whenever possible because sometimes fact is stranger than any fiction.(Like Nixon going to China.) So much so, that this movie resembles a documentary for its first part with occasional pauses to introduce us to various persons of interest. Even then, it is kind of hard to keep track of everybody which becomes important later, and not just because there will be a quiz.

The focus is on the protests in Japan against treaties with the United States that threaten to turn the country into one big aircraft carrier. As the police presence hardens, the protesters become increasingly more confrontational and militant, eventually imagining themselves an army, seeking guns by the end of 1972.

The second part has all the ingredients of a horror movie including an isolated cabin in the woods, lots of young people(mostly in their 20's), sharp pointy things and a body count. At this point, all of the factions of the red army have united into a unified whole which should be the zenith of the movement, but instead proves to be its undoing. Military training metastasizes into a microcosm of the cultural revolution then happening in China, thus rendering a promising force inert. Even worse is that Nagata(Akie Namiki) and Mori(Go Jibiki) use the whole process of Maoist self-critique to settle old scores.(Ironically, Mori had deserted the movement under fire previously but was let back in when most of the leadership had been arrested.) Afterwards, political debates extend to what kind of cookies are anti-revolutionary.(For me, it's mint cookies.) In any case, the most revolutionary behavior should involve kindness, not cruelty.

Even then, this is not the end of the Japanese Red Army, as the endnote lists a group of future actions, including one that was dramatized in "Carlos."
January 14, 2013
Harlequin68
Walter M.

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Foreign Titles

  • United Red Army (Jitsuroku rengo sekigun: Asama sanso e no michi) (DE)
  • United Red Army (Jitsuroku rengo sekigun: Asama sanso e no michi) (UK)
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