Short on story logic but big on sensationalistic effect, Party 7 is an onslaught of color and style. A delightfully warped sensibility is behind the camera here, and it shows in the riotous mix of eccentric characters and insane situations. A rich flavor of absurdity surrounds the characters and events in this hilarious hybrid of Monty Python humor, sex, and voyeurism, and if you're a fan of eccentric cinema, you'll probably eat it right up. A healthy dose of Manga sensibility and crime drama is also injected into the plot, and if there is more style than substance, one is tempted to wonder if that wasn't exactly what the director was aiming for.
The story is little more than a series of loosely connected set-pieces -- skeletons upon which to hang one absurdity after another. As such, the story lacks focus, theme, or continuity, and isn't very satisfying. However, as a live action cartoon with characters who are more 'types' than everyday people, the movie succeeds. Miki (Masatoshi Nagase) is a small time thug in a gang who steals money from his boss and seeks cover in the Hotel New Mexico. This building is owned by voyeur extraordinary Captain Banana (Yoshio Harada), who built a special room to watch his guests, frequently indulging his obsession. Along with Okita (Tadanobu Asano), the son of Captain Banana's former partner, they watch Miki as he contends with his ex-girlfriend, Kana (Akemi Kobayashi), Tohohiro, her new man, and a hitman intent on his death.
There is no way not to compare this insane marriage of overly hip style and outlandish characters to a comic book -- a violent, erotic, ridiculous one. Party 7 doesn't take itself too seriously and neither should you. Katsuhito Ishii directed commercials and pop music videos before his debut Sharkskin Man And Peach Hip Girl, and the particular aesthetics of those genres shine through in this work, including quick and jerky editing, erratic pacing, and an unfortunate instinct to make each scene too flashy. The same elements that lend color and interest to this confused mind-screw also work against it, with 'hipness' refusing to allow dramatic relationships or serious themes to develop. Characters are not fleshed out, leaving you emotionally cold. Still, Ishii manages to instil shocks and a delirious sense of movement in his confused puzzle work. This is interesting eye candy just dazzling enough to justify a viewing. Not art, this IS successful pop-art -trash.
Synapse Films releases Party 7 in 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen. The transfer is detailed and crisp, with only a consistent grain upsetting the balance. This isn't particularly bothersome, as the imagery itself remains sharp. Colors are bright, skin tones natural. Audio is given in original Japanese in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. This mix is clear and sharp, with no distortion or background interference.
Extras are easily more interesting than the film itself, including An Interview With Director Katsuhito Ishii, wherein he and the Captain Banana mask appear in a theater, discussing the origins of the film (a short), casting procedure, and the inspiration for the character of Captain Banana. More interesting is the reflection that elements of the film reflect his own emotional character. Next up is The Making Of Party 7, which is a look behind the scenes, showing us snippets from production including interviews with cast and crew, as well as a few effects. The Alternate Ending is fun if no better than the original climax, followed by a Storyboard Version of Party 7. This segment features storyboards from Ishii accompanied by audio from the motion picture. A Promo Spot, Theatrical Trailers, and Television Spots round out the package.
Review by William Simmons
|Released by Synapse|
|Region 1 - NTSC|
|see main review|