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United Red Army (2007)

Maki Sakai , Koji Wakamatsu  |  Unrated |  DVD
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Maki Sakai
  • Directors: Koji Wakamatsu
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Lorber Films
  • DVD Release Date: January 17, 2012
  • Run Time: 190 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0063E008Y
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #282,179 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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Editorial Reviews


One of the best films of the decade! --Sight & Sound

Product Description

Koji Wakamatsu's (Caterpillar) epic docudrama explores the political unrest of 1960's Japan, when mass student uprisings coincided with the beginnings of the far-left United Red Army group, which tortured and murdered its ''deviant'' members during a 1972 training session. An uncompromising piece of filmmaking from one of Japan's most controversial filmmakers, with a score by former Sonic Youth member Jim O'Rourke.

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Knockout February 28, 2012
United Red Army chronicles the emergence of this radical leftist group and follows its members to imprisonment, escape, or death. The film begins with an amazing sequence of archival footage from the 60's showing the rise of the radical student movement in Japan, its clashes with police and subsequent militarization. After two of their 29 members are executed as defectors, the remaining URAs travel to a hidden mountain training camp which ends in a kind of despotic insanity. Forced by the leaders to undergo "self-critique", many of the young fighters naively admit such petty wrongs as egotism, love and vanity. One by one, twelve more are executed for "defeatism".

Mr. Wakamatsu seems to be asking: How could so many young and beautiful people, with clearly noble aspirations, spiral down into such a tragedy? This question haunts us throughout the film as the huge cast of actors, almost like models in tableaus, "play characters" whose names and ages (and fates, for some) appear in subtitled freeze frames. This approach lays the foundation for a fresh and detached meditation on the subject, while at the same time, imbuing names and dates with flesh and blood. As the story develops, the acting seems to take over the space of "docudrama" and events become frighteningly lifelike.

Form and content fuse in the last third of film as the heartfelt motivation of the last five members is revealed in dialogue in the ten-day standoff with over a thousand police at the tiny Asama Mountain lodge where they keep the innkeeper's wife as hostage. Here the ending lines belie their sadness and unmasks their honorable yet terribly misguided passion. The sole teenage member of the group finally cries out: "We had no courage!" The final shot of the film punctuates the epic for a jarring effect.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Missing Minutes February 10, 2014
Format:Amazon Instant Video
The streaming version is much shorter than the DVD version according to running time. Be aware that you will miss the last hour if you watch on live stream.
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Format:Amazon Instant Video
Anybody involved in this movie should have been asked to commit seppuku. If the movie had a script, it never made it to production time. The actors look like they were picked from the local high school drama department and given assorted drugs (uppers and downers) as they out-overacted any Latino Soap Opera ever made and the average Youtube cat video has better production value than the film.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Idealism becomes cultism February 24, 2014
By Trjgirl
Format:Amazon Instant Video
This is one of the most powerful and disturbing films you're likely to see and it's a shame to see so many reviews actually reviewing Amazon, or one going over point by point real history vs this film.

The film follows highly idealistic students wanted to see revolutionary change. But as time goes by they live more and more in a bubble of self delusion. They imagine a world wide revolution is coming. They imagine all of Japan will follow them.

And then they retreat to the country to train, imagining a few dozen rebels can bring down Japan's government. Once there they turn from a radical group to an outright cult. They begin to accuse each other of not being radical enough. They punish, beat, torture and finally start killing each other over minor supposed offenses that aren't offenses at all.

The two main villains put in powerful performances. Just looking at them one comes to expect another person to die. Not speaking Japanese, I can't say how well it comes across in their own language, but it certainly comes across to non-speakers. The most central female victim has quite a fine performance too, able to win your sympathy just by a subtle look.

By the end you find yourself wanting to shout at them to get out, or to just wise up and see how they are throwing their lives away. I imagine some conservatives will watch this and perhaps feel smug, ignoring that there's no shortage of self destructive cults in their ideology too. (Everyone who watches Fox News...) Everyone else will feel somber over how a noble intent can go so wrong.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Feisty Nipponese August 30, 2014
Format:Amazon Instant Video
If you love Commie Japanese docudrama, there is no substitute for this film.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
From the 1960's through the 1970's, it was a turbulent time in Japan.

Dismayed about America's involvement in the Vietnam War, dismayed of Japan for the renewal of the Security Treat with the US, allowing the U.S. to refuel in Yokota Air Force Base and the American military presence in Okinawa to dismay of the treatment of students at the university but most importantly, anger towards then Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi.

Seeing how student revolutions were taking part all over the globe, especially in the United States against the Vietnam War and revolutions taking place in other countries, it was a beginning of the Japanese Student Left.

Massive demonstrations took place in Japan in which protestors (which included many students) would fight against the police and in the process, a few protestors were killed but the demonstrations by students against their universities due to tuition increases would lead to boycottts of classes but others had bigger ideas in mind. A revolution that would transform a group of students to form one of the most radical groups in Japan, the Red Army Faction.

Using violence and even terrorist methods, the Red Army Faction would be known for hijackings, bank thefts, munition thefts and eventually, these radical ideas would play a part in the demise of the Red Army Faction as distrust among members would lead to internal purging in which several members would kill some of their own because they were not completely dedicated to the Red Army Faction ideals.
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