Directed by Higuchisky, 2003, 74 min. starring Eddie, Natsuki Satou, Masanobu Ando, Kee and Eisuke Shinou.
It's always the way in the movie industry that, given a successful film, a number of rip-offs/parodies/sequels will spring up in its wake. After Ring came a whole slew of Japanese and Korean movies involving vengeful female ghosts with long black hair obscuring their faces; after the Scream series came the godawful Scary Movies; here at Snowblood Apple we're just grateful that no-one decided that Tetsuo needed "re-imagining". So, after Kinji Fukusaku's landmark Battle Royale, it was only natural to expect a fair few "kids versus the system" movies and, well, a film in the vein of the aforementioned Scary Movie.
Quite why it befell Ukrainian-born Higuchinsky, the stylish director who proved what he was capable of given the budget in Uzumaki, to make such a movie as this is unclear. He's quite capable of working with next to no money – the no-budget V-Cinema Long Dream is evidence of that – and here he's cast a whole bunch of first-time movie actors (oh, and Masanobu Ando, last seen as the psycho transfer student Kiriyama in BR) in a film which clearly references its debt to Fukusaku's philosophical, political, gore-soaked actioner.
From the start, you can tell Tokyo 10+01 (also known informally as Tokyo Eleven, depending on which ebay vendor is flogging it) was made on no money at all. The effects are cheesy and it's shot on digital video with a filmy grain effect bunged on top to try to convince us it wasn't. Er... Most of the money was clearly spent on the opening sequence of a "2XXX AD" Tokyo , complete with a bent Tokyo Tower which clearly looks like, er, a droopy male member. Bizarrely, there's a whole series of knob gags running through this film, if you want to find them.
Tokyo , 2XXX AD. In a darkened warehouse, eleven disparate (and desperate) individuals – among them a dishonest tap-dancing casino owner, a cheating pachinko player, and a master art forger whose work fills half the Louvre but who can't do portraits to save his life – slowly awake, wondering why the hell they've been brought there. Only one – Big Mac, a tubby man who, it's said, can run faster than Forrest Gump – fails to rouse from his slumbers, even when be-hatted bad guy (you can tell, he's wearing a black suit and laughs maniacally every fifteen seconds) Mr K and six cronies march in and tell them to get their arses into gear and listen up.
He is, he tells them, an executive of the Black Papillon Foundation, whatever that might be, and he knows everything about them. Not least, he adds, exactly how they have wronged crime boss Mr Baron – and it's Baron who has selected them to participate in this game, the goal of which is to reach Baron's house within 11 hours, the first to do so receiving 300 million Yen. If two or more arrive first, to settle who gets what a game of rock, paper, scissors will be played… In addition, all the bad deeds the players have done to Baron over the years will be "forgotten".
In a clear echo of BR's Oneesan video, up pops a cute girl in a swimsuit on a big screen to explain more about the rules. The players will be chased by hunters with non-lethal laser guns, and if they're close, or if they hit, the bracelets that each is wearing will bleep. If they're hit, they're out the game.
Mr K, in yet another wonderfully over-the-top monologue, explains how Baron's love of Kinji Fukusaku gave him the idea for the game. Here he adds in a twist though – if you don't get to Baron's mansion in time, or try to take off the wristband, you'll be killed by a poisonous needle in the bracelet. Fake (Masanobu Ando), the master forger, wants out... but Mr K quotes Takeshi Kitano – yes, that Takeshi Kitano – with his famous line from Battle Royale – "LIFE IS A GAME" and sends them all on their way, divided into three teams.
As they disappear into a tunnel, off sprints speedy Big Mac – only to be mown down by the masked hunters, now sporting handy semi-machine guns. The others still come under fire, but manage to escape. Snake (played by Eddie, pouting lead singer of J-Rock band The Salinger) joins the team of Fake, assassin-of-forward-men Coco and transvestite car dealer/pickpocket Peach and proceeds to try to take over; casino manager Ace, hacker boy wonder and Harry Potter doppelganger Micro and cheating pro-pachinko player Tall try to steal a car; and kung-fu twins Oolong and Jasmine – each exactly mirroring the actions of the other - and wannabe Yakuza Jingi, armed with his wooden sword and crap yakuza tattoo, try to avoid the attentions of the hunters. Meantime, in the control centre, Mr K is slowly getting increasingly sloshed on a bottle of red wine and is enjoying the attentions of two young ladies. Who will be first at the Baron mansion? Will the hunters make their second kill? What connection does Snake have to Mr K? And what's the significance of the black tattoo of a butterfly that each player seems to have on their wrist?
With a running time of 74 minutes, Tokyo 10+01 certainly doesn't outstay its welcome. Higuchinsky manages to keep the pace up, even in the rather predictable opening section which, in going out of its way to ape Battle Royale, ends up dragging a little, especially with the video girl who is on screen well after the joke has run its course. There is a rather baffling final sequence in Baron's mansion, involving a party, masks and mobile phones, which seems as if it was either tacked on from another movie Higuchinsky had in development at the time, or with which the director was trying to make some rather obscure symbolic point.
Nevertheless, the performances are pretty solid for what is in effect a novice cast. Masanobu Ando pouts permanently and his party blower thing and flowerpot hat make him look cute in a way which will appeal to the fangirls. (Like they needed any encouragement. ;-D) Kee, in his role as Jingi, shows why he's becoming a respected actor, showing up in movies such as Nine Souls and Ichi The Killer. And respect to novice Eisuke Shinou as Mr K, who rises to his role as a pantomime baddie with aplomb.
You've got to take this movie for what it is – a not terribly serious send-up of Battle Royale and various different genre movies. It’s a crime movie, a road movie, an action movie, a failed-yakuza movie, a martial arts movie, and Harry Potter, all rolled into one. For the record, Tokyo 10+01 looks awful – cheap, tacky and plenty of dodgy special effects that look like, oh, at least a bottle of tomato ketchup has been used up on them. The digital video looks terrible in comparison with, say, Kiyoshi Kurosawa's use of it in Bright Future, though the short running time actually counts in this movie's favour. It's not even necessarily a movie you'll need to see more than once – but it's fun while it lasts. To understand its nuances, for what they are, you'll need to have at least a basic knowledge of recent Japanese cinema. But even if you haven't, you'll be able to appreciate Tokyo 10+01 for what it is – a riotous romp through pop culture, best approached with tongue in cheek and beer in hand.
Snowblood Apple Rating for this film:
Entertainment Value: 7/10 - intentionally trashy but with tongue stuck firmly in cheek
Violence: 6/10 - quite a lot of gun play, kung-fu and deadly flying playing cards
Sex: 1/10 - for Ando lovers everywhere, despite flowerpot hat
Masanobu Ando: blows party blower/10 and opens his eyes big and wide. *squee, dies*
Mr K: wants to be in panto
Battle Royale: was such a good movie, wasn't it?
Films in a Similar Style: Battle Royale, Battle Heater, Bio Zombie, Full Metal Yakuza
*** Recommended for a non-taxing hour-and-a-bit's entertainment***
Tokyo 10+01 Wallpaper
please note: the actual paper does not have the Snowblood Apple logo on it.
You can download this wallpaper here: [800x600] [1024x768]
Wallpaper credit: Alex Apple, 2004
Snowblood Apple Filmographies
http://www.kss-movie.com/tokyo-eleven/ - official site [Japanese only]
http://www.foutz.net/movies/tokyo11.shtml - Scott Foutz really didn't like the movie at all
http://www.tombofdvd.com/tokyo11.htm - Morpho's Lair liked it though...
http://www.megspace.com/entertainment/highimpact/reviews/st/tokyoeleven.html - ...and High Impact thought it was fun
http://www.sancho-asia.com/article.php3?id_article=132 - has the full Sancho Does Asia treatment [French only]
http://membres.lycos.fr/puremoon/sommaire_entier.htm - Pure Moon, a (the?) Masanobu Ando fansite. In French, but with lots of pictures so it doesn't matter
http://www.juggler.co.jp/salinger/ - home page of The Salinger, whose lead singer Eddie plays Snake in Tokyo 10+01