Violence Without A Cause
Also known as: Gendai sei hanzai zekkyou hen: Riyuu naki boukou
Medium: film
Year: 1969
Director: Koji Wakamatsu
Writer: Toshitaka Sakabe
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 71 minutes
Url: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0291196/
Website category: Japanese old
Review date: 10 July 2019
Well, I won't forget that in a hurry. It's strong stuff. I hated it, but that's the emotional reaction it wanted.
Koji Wakamatsu was a Japanese pink film director whose work includes exploitation, sex, extreme violence and political messages. He's been called "the most important director to emerge in the pink film genre" and one of "Japan's leading directors of the 1960s." This is one of his low-budget independent 1960s films, shot quickly, cheaply and in black-and-white. It's been suggested that his work was a deliberate challenge to the government. I don't know about that, but this one certainly challenged me.
It's about three 19-year-old men. They seem to do nothing all day. They wander around Tokyo (often amid emptiness), have self-pitying conversations and talk about how they'd like women and money. Wouldn't it be nice to be popular? They're horrifying because they're so ordinary, being a bunch of slightly sullen but basically normal losers who have rambling conversations and argue about putting porn on the wall. They'll do rock-scissors-paper to decide who rapes first. In any other film, you'd dismiss them as negligible. That's because they are. They're nothing. However these human voids will:
(a) see a couple on the beach, decide that they must be on honeymoon and then attack them. There's no good time to be gang-raped, but having it happen on your wedding day would be a unique kind of horror. Our heroes also take photos and force the groom to rape his bride too.
(b) find a new way of horrifying you, even after (a).
(c) find a new way of horrifying you, even after (a) and (b).
One of our, uh, heroes builds a gun, but the others aren't worried. "Don't worry, he's not capable of doing anything." They consume porn. They blame women for forcing them to rape them. They find a hole in their apartment wall and peep on their neighbours having sex, which is incredibly boring. All that we (and they) can see is blurred pinhole image fragments (in colour!), with sex sounds audible. These scenes will drive you out of your mind and make you willing to chew off your own arm to escape. Our heroes are happy when they're peeping, though.
(Why don't they just have sex with each other? If they're that desperate, why not help each other out?)
Sometimes this film is dull. Sometimes it's extraordinarily horrible. It's not just the sexual assault, but the waiting for it. You'll want to die as you watch our heroes sit around drinking beer in the house of a nice lady who invited them inside.
GOOD NEWS: the film has a happy ending! (By "happy", I mean "THEY ALL DIE.") It was funny when the big scary men entered, although unfortunately our heroes survive that. However they'll soon all die pathetic, unnecessary deaths that could never happen to anyone who wasn't corrosively self-pitying, delusional and/or suicidal. One of them does literally commit suicide, by the way, but you could argue that there are actually two suicides. It depends on how you assess that hilarious scene with a policeman. It's perfect because our hero makes such a bloody, absurd, fuckwitted choice that I can only applaud the scene's dazzling peak of characterisation.
The film's also disturbing unwittingly. I think. It's hard to be sure of the director's intentions in such a harsh piece, but the first gang-rape victim appears to make noises of pleasure. There's a myth being perpetrated there. What's more, it's a myth that Japan is fond of.
They think they're victims of society. They're not even rebelling. They're just young men at a loose end, talking the kind of unpleasant talk that happens when young, horny men get together. They're wallowing in their own despair and have basically given up hope, although it's true that their circumstances are pretty bleak. This film is, was and will always be relevant, for as long as the human race exists. It's also paradoxically beautiful to look at, in the stark way of black-and-white films. (Ugly people live their pointless lives in drab settings, but being captured in black-and-white turns that into art.)
I hated it. I hated the experience of watching this film. I wanted our heroes to kill themselves and I'd be cheering on anything potentially fatal. You will not enjoy this film and I wouldn't recommend it to humans. If you do watch it, though, it's powerful.
And boring.
And powerful because it's boring.
"Even though we haven't done anything wrong..."