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R100 (2013) (DVD)(English Subtitled)(Japan Version)
Omori Nao | Matsumoto Hitoshi (Director) | Katagiri Hairi | Tominaga Ai
R100 (2013) (DVD)(English Subtitled)(Japan Version)
The ultimate batsu game movie
February 17, 2014 Picked By Rockman See all this editor's picks
One of comedian Matsumoto Hitoshi's most popular programs is the annual Gaki no Tsukai new years special. An extension of a sketch from a weekly comedy show, each four-hour special takes Matsumoto, his Downtown partner Hamada Masatoshi and several other comedians on a trip to a remote location for several days. On the trip, they become audience members to one sketch after another, all designed to make them laugh. However, whenever someone laughs, a team of masked men enters the room and beat the men who laughed. For a society that encourages homogeneity and not acting up, the joke isn't the comedy in the sketch, but the fact that the men are being punished for laughing in a situation in which they are supposed to remain silent.

It's no surprise that Matsumoto – a man who has experienced much pain for the pleasure of his audience - would eventually direct a comedy about it. R100, Matsumoto's fourth directorial effort, is all about sadomasochism, or the idea of pain for sexual pleasure. On the surface, it's a film that mocks men like Katayama (Omori Nao), a timid salesman who gets more than he bargained for when he signs a binding contract with an S&M club. However, it seems to be actually about Matsumoto's self-reflection on whether anyone can seriously take joy in a game that brings him so much pain.

That's only the beginning for Matsumoto, who keeps upping the stakes as the S&M club's leather-clad dominatrices begin showing up at the most random places to make Katayama suffer. After a particularly shocking scene around the mid-way point involving bodily fluids and bondage, Matsumoto pulls the carpet from under the audience, revealing what we have seen thus far to be a film-within-a-film that is undergoing censorship review. As the story progresses, the film periodically returns to the stressed-out censors, who keep taking cigarette breaks over the course of the second half of the story.

This is when we discover the meaning the film's title, a take on the censorship ratings in Japan (which ranges from a general audience-friendly G to the restrictive R18+). The joke is that the content in R100 is so nonsensical and extreme that audiences under 100 years old should not be permitted to see the film.

Matsumoto does take things a little far in the film's third act, when the club decides to unleash everything it has at Katayama. The pot starts overflowing with various genre influences, and the original idea begins to lose its meaning. However, R100 is overall a wild ride that is more than just the crazy nonsensical comedy that overseas film geeks think it is. Matsumoto has a confident handle on everything that happens in the film, from the S&M scenes down to even a recurring joke about post-earthquake paranoia. For all the media bashing towards the film during its theatrical release, including negative reviews and jokes on social media about its lackluster box office performance, R100 may eventually become a true cult film.






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