United Red Army Reviews
It is a tough film to watch but quite interesting.
A very long movie, but if you don't mind sitting through three plus hours, then this might be the film for you!
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."
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.
did not found better words to describe it
Koji Wakamatsu's additional mastery of the Pinku eiga genre lends him the ability to recreate scenes of Communist self-criticism which are quite unsettling. It is perhaps more disturbing than the violence of his related work in Ecstasy of the Angels, because of the direct historic facts depicted, Jitsuroku-style. Such scenes as a young woman instructed to punch her own face into a pulpy mass, ostensibly to remedy her counter-revolutionary narcissism, are tought to watch. But the point at hand is clear - elevating ideology above human sentiment can allow the worst aspects of human nature to masquerade as high-minded idealism.
Wakamatsu interestingly uses Jim O'Rourke to provide a subdued, rock-influenced score that actually fits extremely well. Leads Go Jibiki & Akie Namiki are excellent, and action star Tak Sakaguchi is actually pretty good in a smaller but dramatic role.