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4.3 out of 5 stars12
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 9 September 2015
I have to say I really did not like this movie. There are parts of it that are done superbly well, then the rest of it I found very slow or silly. The parts of that the movie excels at are things tense scenes. Kaiji on "brave mans road", or Kaiji in a game of cards. the rest of the movie was more of a filler for this. The problem is these great bits were too few and too far between. All the others characters just seemed to be there for me, Tatsuya Fujiwara really threw himself into the role of Kaiji but the others did not seem to be there but not knowing really what motivated their character.
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on 29 February 2012
When I was in Japan in November the second Kaiji film was due to open in the cinemas and the cast were appearing on all of the variety shows which pepper Japanese schedules, even creating scary games for them to take part in against a team of 'talento'... or people who are famous for being famous.

Anyway, they also showed this on one Friday and I was hooked. I missed the first part up to where he arrives on the ship so I was a bit confused, but I stuck with it. My Japanese is pretty weak but I grasped the basics... but some of it transcends dialogue and you just get sucked in.
I bought the PAL DVD and watched it last night, and it's even better now I know the start and the subtitles help with some of the more subtle elements... although sometimes the subs tend to say something other than the spoken dialogue.

So is it a good film. No... it's an excellent movie. It's gripping, exciting, frightening and all together a 130 minute thrill ride. The acting is note-perfect (or should that be Death Note perfect as some of the cast were in that, lol... watches tumbleweed roll past in the silence) and the music is worth buying if it's available on CD.

Now I await the second film with anticipation.

Jan... ken... pon!
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on 2 August 2010
This flick is based on Nobuyuki Fukumoto's manga series, Tobaku Mokushiroku Kaiji, and stars the uber slick prince of Japanese cinema Tatsuya Fujiwara in the lead role of Ito Kaiji, a down on his luck loser with an unhealthy drink and gambling problem fuelled by his lower class status; the complete polar opposite to the character he played in Death Note, Light Yagami. Kaiji is given the chance to pay off his huge financial debt in one night when he receives an invitation to board a gambling boat from an unscrupulous debt collector named Endo; or, face the daunting prospect of repaying the hefty sum over a ten year period.

Kaiji's decision will eventually guide him towards another unfortunate slacker named Sahara Makoto, played superbly by Kenichi Matsuyama; again, a million miles away from his creepy, enigmatic portrayal as L in the Death Note series and not so easily recognizable without all the make-up. Instead of a battle of wits between these two talented thespians, this time around they must pull together and form an alliance to successfully cross Brave Men Road; escape the slave driven underworld; clear their individual debts; and, be set free back into normal society.

Just like each individual Manga Publication leaves the hooked reader eagerly anticipating the release date of the forthcoming issue to continue the fable and satisfy their curiosity, each scene plays out in a similar fashion feeling like a condensed version of the original mini-stories, constantly changing direction and making the viewing experience an enthralling ride packed with suspense, tension and occasional laughter. Tatsuya Fujiwara carries the whole film with arguably his best performance to date and gets supported well throughout; especially, in the grand finale showdown with the tyrannical Tonegawa played by Teruyuki Kagawa (20th Century Boys).

Highly recommended for fans who enjoy Japanese Manga stories; Tatsuya Fujiwara; and/or, intense gambling scenes like the one between Daniel Craig and Mads Mikkelson in Bond's Casino Royale; but on a totally different level - of course. This isn't the super spy versus the dastardly villain, it's the emperor versus the slave. Put it in the basket, it's odds on to be a winner.
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on 20 February 2012
This film is based on a popular Japanese manga, which was also then adapted into a 26-part anime back in 2007. Being a big fan of the anime (the internet can be a wonderful thing as this has never been officially licensed in the west, so you need to rely on reliable fansub groups), I wondered how well the events of the anime could be condensed into a 130-minute movie. Having now seen this film, I need not have been concerned, as it has managed very well to incorporate all but one of the story threads without ignoring any of the emotional tension. All the gambles from the series are here, bar the last one. The end of the film is very different to the anime.
I will not really go into the plot details, as other reviewers have already mentioned it. However, I will say that the lead role of Kaiji is very well cast, and he has captured the character identically to how he is portrayed in the anime. In the series, the anxious voiceovers during key moments in whatever gamble is taking place, be it E-card or trying to survive the Brave Men Road, really emphasise what Kaiji is thinking and allow you to get inside his head. This is just the same in the film, and it has captured the tension brilliantly, considering the running time is much shorter than a 26-part series. The role of Tonegawa is also perfectly cast, totally cold and ruthless. Fans of the Death Note films will obviously recognise the role of Kaiji, but L also makes an appearance as Sahara, one of Kaiji's co-minions.
Overall, this is a superb film. Whether or not you are familiar with the series or the manga, it makes no difference.
Finally of note, a sequal was released in Japan back in November, after the second anime series finished airing last year. This is another 26 episodes, and one of it's main focuses is a high stakes Pachinko machine called The Bog that is somehow linked to the mysterious Teiai Group Kaiji is in debted to in the first series/movie. The is the core thread of the movie from what I have read, so will have to wait and see once it gets a release over here...
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on 10 March 2015
I bought this as a Death Note & Battle Royale fan, not really expecting much to be honest. Man was I pleasantly surprised!
This is in my opinion Tatsuya Fujiwara's best performance to date. The movie itself is filled with twists and tension which will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout!
An easy one to recommend.
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on 20 August 2015
have enjoyed several films with the lead actor in before, however found this film not to be on the same level. Enjoyable to an extent, I found the film dragged in certain areas, and most of the characters didn't really make an impact on me
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on 25 July 2010
The colourful cast of Death Note (2006) reunite for this inspired manga/anime adaptation. It is a riveting sizzler of a movie made with nerve-jangling Japanese brutality. Kaiji is a down and out thirty-year-old blue-collar loser who has no luck in life. He is bored of his dead-end job at the hypermarket, irritated that pompous and prosperous people drive around in Mercedes and depressed that he never has enough dough to rise above his comatose lifestyle. One day, a debt collector arrives at his flat to offer him the chance to change his empty existence: go on a cruise with other down and outs, gamble, and repay his debts in the ultimate game of deception. If you win, you start your life afresh, if you lose, well, you will never want to fool around with rock-paper-scissors again because Brave Men Road is the only way to escape 15-years of forced underground slave labour.

Kaiji: The Ultimate Gambler (2009) examines the languor of Japanese consumer culture: work, devour, and squander your verve in an everlasting cycle of mass suppression that upholds the lower-class/upper-class divide. This regimented Metropolis style nightmare comes to fruition in the symbolic utopian underground kingdom that blue-collar slave workers must construct for aristocratic city-dwellers. The languid masses march in union, take showers together and buy beer and munchies with their meagre pay to nullify and distract themselves from their authoritarianism. The moral at the heart of Kaiji is simple: if you want to achieve your dreams in this hum/drum existence, you have to wake up, fight, and live recklessly. Would you be willing to walk across an electrified beam between two skyscrapers to pay off your debts while superficial business executives watch you on television screens? If you want to rise above your own worthless comatose lifestyle, why not take up the challenge, you could win lots of money because that is what Brave Men Road is all about, or is it...

Verdict: This riveting Battle Royale intoned masterpiece is made with nail-biting suspense, brain-teasing intelligence and mind-blowing wit:-
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on 15 May 2016
Really good film, definitely recommend it!
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on 15 May 2013
Kaiji is about a no life working at a conbini (convenience store) boy who doesn't care about his life until a day his whole life is at stake. And from that moment he treasures life...
The movie is a prequel of the sequel Kaiji 2.
Good acting of Fujiwara Tatsuya but also of Matsuyama Kenichi (which hadn't really a big role in the movie)
These 2 great actors of my country have showed again that they really can act. They really set down the roles good.
Kaiji is live action movie based on the manga and anime.
an 8 for keeping you in your chair and not for let you leaving the room
a 7 for the interaction
a 6 for the story because sometimes you have moments where you think like 'What is happening? '

If you loved Death note or Ikigami then this is a must for you.
Don't expect much action like Battle Royale or something but see this as lesson for treasuring your life and going for goals.

I hope you enjoyed my review people~

see you at the next review.
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on 5 February 2014
I thought this movie was brilliant, it kept me and my friend glued to the screen all the way through.
I bought this from CeX on a whim and I'm glad I did.

You should definitely have this movie on your shelf!
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