Soichi Negishi moved to Tokyo to chase his dream of becoming a musician playing stylish, Swedish-style pop. Instead, he finds himself leading the death metal band Detroit Metal City, or DMC... See full summary »
Four youths share a two bedroom apartment in a corner of Tokyo. A series of assault cases occur in the same district. Eighteen year old Satoru, a male prostitute, joins them as a new house mate. Their daily life slowly starts to change.
Trusting, gullible Nao suddenly finds herself participating in the mysterious Liar Game, a game where the players are issued large sums of money which they then have to cheat each other out... See full summary »
College graduate Yu Shinomiya is invited to the Liar Game, which has been restarted by funding from new investors. She turns to her psychology professor for help, who is none other than ... See full summary »
The problem with this movie is that it has to compact the material of 13 volumes of manga into a 2 hour long movie. The very format forced some of 'Kaiji's strongest points to lose much of its impact, namely the gambling aspect of what is a very brainy and interesting manga. The movie cuts down on the mental gymnastics that make Kaiji able to beat the odds in a believable way. As a result the viewer cannot quite grasp his genius as everything is edited to the point of losing coherence. The manga is plotted in such a way as to cover several arcs, each with its own crazily high stakes and particular flavor. The movie cannot frame a transition of the moments of the narrative without coming undone at the seams.
Some choices in the adaptation were odd such as changing Endou's gender and changing the order of some events and there are other changes that may seem minor on the surface but end up diluting the tense do-or-die atmosphere that had readers of the manga flipping the pages anxiously and sitting at the edge of their seats. Such as the terrifying ear perforation device or the finger guillotine, both if which are completely absent in the movie.
Kaiji's inner dialog is hyped mostly as an emotional appeal without the counterbalancing effect of his quick mind. The manga's eponymous hero is known for bursting into tears rather often but he remains a very clever young man whose gambles have plenty of reasoning behind them, the movie shows us only flashes of this. It is also unfortunate that some of the more intense moments of the 'Kaiji' saga take place in material that is not covered by the movie.
The acting is solid, namely Fujiwara who plays Kaiji flawlessly, a completely different role of Death Note's Light that first introduced me to him. Having a woman playing a loan shark lends itself to romantic vibes but these never materialize.
Fans of the manga may enjoy seeing Kaiji in 3D but this movie does not match the brilliance of the original work.
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