Review by: Topo Sanchez
SCUM Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
When we first read the synopsis for Hitoshi Matsumoto’s (Big Man Japan) R100, our spidey senses were tingling overtime because we knew that this could possibly be the film to soothe our poor damaged eyes after going through the excruciating torture that is known as 50 Shite of Grey.
The story revolves around Takafumi, a typical japanese salaried worker with a mundane daily routine, with a young son under his care and a comatose wife lying in hospital. To escape this painfully dull existence, he signs up with an underground gentleman club promising an unusual S&M service – random visitations by dominatrix queens, at any time and anywhere. Oh, and there is no exit clause for him to back out from the one-year contract, and no safe word to stop the pain.
It starts out pretty well, with the appearances of skin-tight leather clad, stone-cold ice queens dishing out punishments like a 24-hour pain buffet. They kick him down the stairs, beat him up, slap him around… y’know, the usual. And sometimes its a mental game too — one Queen dropped in during Takafumi’s lunch, and squashes all his sushi rolls with her fists before handing them over for him to eat. Nice.
And how do we know Takafumi is kept a happy bunny? When his face distorts into a twisted orgasmic smile, glowing with eerie satisfaction, that’s how.
There are different Queens with different areas of specialty – one uses the whip, another imitates voices, one uses her saliva and one is just plain bizarre ( let’s just say she eats her way through a problem). The Queen of Saliva is probably one of the most memorable character – she carries a portable bar in her briefcase and concocts a cocktail of fluid into her mouth before she lets out a blast of spit with eagle-eye precision. I bet you didn’t realize a spit shower could give such an intense feeling of disgust and satisfaction at the same time…*cue orgasmic smile*
If you try to analyze this movie from a serious angle, I am sure there is a sort of a social commentary in there somewhere, something about the modern day work/life routine and how it reflects the issue of Repression. But director Matsumoto quickly diverts us away from going down this academic path by injecting some tongue-in-cheek meta humour about how adding an earthquake scene will make the move feel more ‘current’. Its his way of reminding us not to take this film too seriously. Of course the very title R100 itself is the biggest meta joke in the film – it’s a story within this story about a film committee trying to decide the rating for this film, and how they end up giving it a R100 rating (meaning its suitable for audience aged 100 and above). Its nonsensical good fun, and that’s how we should watch this film – to have fun.
For me, the first three quarters of the film is interesting and original, and it keeps me wanting to see more Queens and more pain dished out. But the last quarter is truly disappointing, with lots of bad acting and incoherent sequences, and bordering on slapstick humour. I think the director simply ran out of ideas on how to end the film, kinda like Kung Pow and Rubber.
Nevertheless, this is a highly entertaining film and it definitely belongs to the ‘Bizarre’ section in your dvd collection.