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Too much documentary footage alternating with very limited character development. Maybe well intentioned docudrama of an important historical period but turns you off unlike The Baader-Meinhof Complex; I couldn't get through the first quarter of the film because it seems to be a waste of time.
This is an uncompromising film directed by master of controversy Koji Wakamatsu. The story is linear and easy to follow. Perhaps it saturates the viewer with too much information, and some parts are too long, but it is quite interesting to see the formation of a terrorist group and their descent to hell. Furthermore, the fact that Wakamatsu knew a lot of the terrorists, himself participating in some of their earliest actions adds weight to the film.
It is a tough film to watch but quite interesting.
A very interesting story was told in this true story, empathy was drawn while watching those who thought they were fighting for a cause, were actually being murdered one by one!
A very long movie, but if you don't mind sitting through three plus hours, then this might be the film for you!
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."
Manohla Dargis, New York Times
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
Une realisation-fleuve (plus de trois heures!) sur la formation et les agissements de la Fraction Armee Rouge japonaise durant les annees 60 et 70. Melange de fiction et d'images d'achives, le film retranscrit brillamment le fonctionnement rigide et autoritaire de ce groupuscule d'extreme gauche, le fanatisme de ses leaders et les doutes, cruellement punis, de certains de ses membres. Une voix-off intervient d'ailleurs a plusieurs reprises pour repreciser certains elements ou les recadrer dans leur contexte historique. Vu la multiplicite des personnages et le manque de connaissances prealables - du moins en ce qui me concerne - relatives a l'activisme de gauche japonais, cette aide n'est pas de refus ! Sans doute trop long et trop austere pour captiver le spectateur europeen qui ne serait pas justement en train de rediger une these sur le sujet, on peut neanmoins saluer l'ambition et la precision de cette production, qui aurait indeniablement gagnee a etre plus concise et rythmee (a l'instar du recent "Baader-Meinhof komplex")
An excellent Jitsuroku eiga/semi-doc styled film that combines historic footage with the director's firsthand experience with the subject, survivor interviews, extensive recreations, and fine narration Yoshio Harada. The implosion of the radical left was personally experienced by Wakamatsu, and he is indeed still unable to enter the US due to his involvement with the radical Japanese left. He brutally depicts how factionalism, personality, ideological fanaticism, and simple cruelty result in the most depraved sort of behavior in the name of ideals.
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.
Phew...heavy going history of the far left in Japan in the late sixties/early seventies. The director could have probably trimmed off the first hour which is basically an in depth history lesson though it list events without giving much in sight into the literally hundreds of people it introduces. Things pick up and get very heavy going when the two Red Army factions hole up in a hut in the Japanese mountains and enact their own Cultural Revolution/Stalinist purges on each other over who is the truest communist.Finally the remaining leftists stage a final hostage hold in a holiday lodge surrouded by police. The scenes of self criticism in the mountains are intense and quite well staged but pretty hard to watch (unlike the recent Baader Meinhoff film this could not be accused of glamourising the group). Overall though the film doesn't really attempt to get under the skin of why well educated, well intentioned, middle class Japanese kids would go so completely crazy and behave in such a barabaric manner. A goos history lesson but a bit of a letdown otherwise.
A superb portrait of the "Jitsuroku rengÃ´ sekigun", a Japanese terrorist band that was born in the students revolts of the 60's and was strongly active in the 70's, committing terror attacks even out of Japan. The film can be a bit long, but the cruelty and fanatism of the band is well registered, and the not very fair police operations to kill their members. A good film to know more about one of the darkest and less known chapters of the post-war history of Japan.
La Fraction ArmÃ©e Rouge japonaise et son histoire... Ca ressemble parfois plus Ã Battle Royale qu'Ã autre chose... une bande de jeunes universitaires font leur rÃ©volution en huis clos et les mÃ©canismes tournent Ã la secte et les deux gourous font assassiner leurs anciens amis Ã tour de bras dans un atmosphÃ¨re digne d'Evil Dead... le message "moralisateur" est clair : jeunes de maintenant avant de faire la rÃ©volution regardez ce que vos devanciers en ont fait... Est Ã§Ã aussi l'histoire de nos ArmÃ©es Rouges occidentales, une bande de paumÃ©s en boucle tenant des discours abscons et assassinant y compris au sein de leur propre camp tous ceux qui ne sont pas de leur avis: Baader = Manson ?