Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Hitoshi Matsumoto is Japan’s most famous comedian, but even if you’ve seen his absurdist movies like Big Man Japan and Symbol you’ll barely be prepared for the S&M antics of this straight-faced send-up of every single genre in Japanese cinema. R100 starts as one of those humdrum, realistic, slice-of-life Japanese dramas about a lonely, single father. But this boring furniture salesman hires an exclusive gentleman’s bondage club to torment him. They dispatch dangerous dominatrixes at random to torture him as he goes about his everyday routine, and he soon realizes that life doesn’t come with a safeword. Dominatrixes are beating the tar out of him at work, at home, on the street, and in his dying wife’s hospital room. He tries to stop the contract, but is informed that the more he begs for mercy, the more they can tell he’s actually turned on. And that’s when the movie’s genre gets tortured out of shape, and by the time the end credits roll it’s become a deadpan parody of square Japanese action movies of the 1960s. You’ll have no clue as to how it got from point A to point B, but the journey is so insane that you won’t mind. This is one of the funniest movies of the year, with something profound to say about the pursuit of pleasure, girl gangs, dominatrix armies, and total bondage warfare.