Following up on his gritty boxing documentary Unchained, Toshiaki Toyoda returns to narrative film with this bleak portrait of life at perhaps the worst high school in Japan. The film opens with the quiet yet brutal Kujo (played by Gohatto's Ryuhei Matsuda) winning a particularly hair-raising version of chicken -- clapping as many times as you can while hanging on the outside of the school's rooftop railing. Kujo is immediately crowned the king of the school and his gang -- including his thuggish childhood pal Aoki -- rule the place with an iron fist. The student fear and worship Kujo while ignoring and ridiculing their tired and resentful teachers. As one member after another falls by the wayside -- one joins the yakuza while another stabs a third gang member to death -- Kujo grows disillusioned the life of a high school potentate and starts to ignore his chum Aoki. Confused and angry, Aoki disappears from school for a spell, only to return with a new road warrior haircut as a nightmarish vision of teenage alienation. With brutal efficiency, Aoki establishes himself as the school's top-dog and soon the two former friends face each other down in a final violent confrontation. This film was screened at the 2001 Toronto Film Festival.
by Jonathan Crow synopsis