Release Date(s)2013 (March 10, 2015)
Studio(s)Cinedigm/Warner Bros. (Drafthouse Films)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: C+
- Audio Grade: C+
- Extras Grade: D
If I had ambition, I’d create a section of The Bits called WTF Did I Just Watch? There, I would drop in all the movies that made me question everything about myself. I think the qualifying aspect would be not just a movie that made no sense, or was so off the wall that I wondered why it was made, but it would have to be that I somehow enjoyed it. R100 is just such a WTF Did I Just Watch? type of film.
Springing from the mind of legendary Japanese comedian/TV host turned director (he birthed into the world the equally WTF Big Man Japan) Hitoshi Matsumoto, R100 concerns itself with a department store salesman/salaryman Takafumi Katayama (Nao Ōmori) whose wife is in an inexplicable coma. He’s raising his young son with the occasional help of his father-in-law and the pressure is starting to get to him. Looking for a release, Takafumi joins an S&M club called Bondage where they promise, for one whole year, he will be beaten up by a random dominatrix until his pain become pleasure and that pleasure turns him from a masochist into a sadist. The one catch is, he cannot exit this plan – he has to deal with whatever comes along; no if, ands or spanked butts. Visually these domination sessions are dished out in mini-episodes with a special “queen” who each specialize in certain aspects of domination – spitting, food play, role-reversal, whipping, kicking, drowning and even “gobbling” (it’s not what you think, but it’s a showstopper). These beating can come at any time – work, on route to dinner, even while visiting his comatose wife. Eventually Takafumi realizes he’s way in over his head and tries to quit the club but he’s quickly reminded that there is no departing the plan when they make an example out of his son. No one puts Takafumi’s baby in a corner and so there’s a little war between Takafumi and Bondage that brings us the Amazonian Chairman of the club and a bunch of S&M ninjas.
R100 is a lot of weird fun. It’s very visually stylish with cool use of color filters, special effects (punctuating when Takafumi achieves bliss in his S&M encounters) and sexy ladies playing out some wild S&M fantasy. 50 Shades this is not – so be warned that this is not a toned down film. It’s very much a wacky Japanese film and I say that as a fan of wacky Japanese movies. There’s even a very odd meta bit inside the film where a group of movie executives are discussing the WTF-ness of the film at the same time as we’re watching it, with the gem of the bit being that the film was made by a One Hundred Year Old director and the title of the film R100 means the film is not suitable for anyone but him. Wink wink. It’s a very smart film, made but a very funny man who knows a thing of two about S&M.
This Blu-ray is not a show piece. The stylistic color palate and artificial grain makes the film a bit muddled in home theater. It’s gorgeous in spots (like the opening sequence with model Ai Tominaga), but as a whole R100’s presentation is a bit lackluster. The film is presented 1080p with the aspect ratio 1.85:1. Audio is just available in the original Japanese as a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 with English subs, and I’m fine with that. English dubs are for scrubs. It sounds fine, but again it’s not going to be your reference disc by any means. The sole extra on board are a series of trailers – there is one for this film as well as for other Drafthouse Films releases Cheap Thrills, Klown, Miami Connection, The Visitor and Why Don’t You Play In Hell? and that’s it, which is a shame, because I’d love to know more about this film, what went into making it, some explanation of the origin – you know, information. As it sits, it’s a movie only presentation and I wanted more. Oh, there’s also a digital code for a download onto Drafthouse’s proprietary digital service. Be nice if it were Ultraviolet, but it’s not.
R100 is very much not for everyone. But fans of the odd or fans of modern wacky Japanese comedies will be entertained. If you’re a sliver curious, then give it a shot.
- Todd Doogan