Tokyo Gore School [Gakkô ura saito] (2009)

With a title like Tokyo Gore School you may think this movie is full of giant mutated killer kids rampaging through Japan with blood sodden school satchels and not the action packed chase thriller packed with social comment it actual is.

Made on a low budget this is a movie high on ideas with a plot line that seems all too real in our internet obsessed times where we are told teenagers terrorise our streets. The film centers around Fujiwara (Yusuke Yamada) a school boy who has it all, adored by the girls and feared by the boys he even has the teachers eating out of his proverbial pocket.

But all that is about to change.

Unbenounced to him he has been targeted in a massive online game where school students must defeat each other in brutal brawls across the city streets. If you win you earn points to take your details off the site and exchange for cash but if you lose your deepest, darkest secret is revealed to all.

A strong believer in survival of the fittest Fujiwara is forced to fight but with his old pals and the whole Tokyo school population against him how long can he keep winning and keep his terrible past from the world.

Using mobile phones, social network sites and GPS the modern plot see-saws between the real and the ridiculous.

The dissection of school life with heatless bullying, peer pressure and high school crushes is combined with scenes of full on kung-fu fighting as the haunted antihero battles to keep his secret safe.

The cast look perfect and fit the characters well and the script balances realistic teenage talk with moments of deeper reflection.

Combining elements of Fight Club, Warriors and Lord of the Flies the most obvious and direct comparison to be found is to the fantastic fight-fest Battle Royale.

Although not as well realised or as innovative director Yôhei Fukuda, who also co-wrote the script, does a good job maxamising the mobility of the lower grade camera he uses to keep the ferocious frenetic feel of the film.

The original idea keeps interest high and the action keeps the audience entertained. The gore is not as free flowing as the title may imply however there are some nasty moments which are used more to shock the senses than glamorise the game the kids are caught up in.

With stories of internet stalking, cyber bullying and Happy Slapping constantly flooding our homes Tokyo Gore School seems all the more relevant and deserves to be seen by a wider audience than kung-fu fans alone.

It may not beat Battle Royale and the title may be a bit misleading but this low budget action picture is well worth a watch and school’s many other movies that you can make an ideas packed feature without a Hollywood budget.

Movie Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

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Alex Humphrey

Alex studied film at the University of Kent and went on to work for Universal Pictures in their Post Room gaining an inside look at the movie industry from the very bottom. Constantly writing reviews in everything from local magazines to Hip Hop sites Alex honed his critical skills even spending a brief period as a restaurant critic. Read more

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