Oshima is a director who usually leaves you in no doubt about what he thinks, but he goes all out here. This film is a strong polemic against the death penalty as practiced in Japan. The condemned man fails to die, and those in the death chamber panic and wonder what to do. After about five minutes of narration (by Oshima himself), the characters gear into action, using Oshima's chosen method : black farce. This is a very funny film, and all the more so because it confronts some very edgy stuff and often crosses the line to outrage. Oshima, as he often does, attacks Japan's sacred cows head on. As well as the death penalty, he deals with prejudice against Koreans, rape, politics, respect for authority and much more.
The acting is excellent, particularly the Korean who plays the condemned man. His calm poise provides an excellent balance to the mania of the officials around him, as they try to make him remember who he is and what he's done.
Strong stuff, warmly recommended.
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