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June 9, 2013

Movie Review: Strip Mahjong: Battle Royale (2012, DVD)

Review By: Rob Sibley

A handful of mysterious Japanese women take part in a deranged web show that makes them strip off their clothes when they lose a round of Mahjong. When there is nothing left to hide, the losers secrets are revealed and the nubile contestants must take their punishment. Can anyone survive, or keep their clothes on, in the dangerous game of "STRIP MAHJONG: BATTLE ROYALE?" Gleefully adding a risqué, wry twist to an ancient game of strategy, this erotic thriller delivers voyeuristic thrills with the friskiness of Seventies sexploitation flicks, providing titillating, strange and kinky gameplay at every turn!

You just have to love the Japanese, they really know what they are doing when it comes to exploitation films. This flick doesn't try to hide what it is in the least. Sure it's a highly misogynistic concept but that's all part of the exploitation game. Usually I'd balk at a flick like this because more often then most they have no redeeming value and are two steps away from a bad Asian porno. But “Strip Mahjong” has an ace up it's sleeve. It's the perverse, over the top sense of the humor the film contains. It's impossibly hard to take this film seriously and that's a good thing. I also found it refreshing that the film didn't take the easy out aka going for the gore. This isn't Red Room 1 or 2 or any other single location Japanese horror flick. Sure it's Japanese sleaze, but it's sleaze with a sense of satire.

Obviously the “Battle Royale” subtitle was added to the flick to interest fans of Kinji Fukasaku's classic. The two films have nothing in common besides the fact that the characters from both films are forced to wear collars. In BR the collars were equipped with an explosive charge, in Strip the Collars send an electric charge. Pretty much a heavy duty shock dog collar which is activated by a little toy ray gun! Yep you read that right, it pretty much resembles a water pistol and I'm guessing that's what the film used.

What about the characters you might ask? Well it's your stock group of Japanese ladies. You get Misuzu a nervous housewife, Aoi a lawyer (one of the most hilariously unconvincing lawyers to), Mira who's pretty much a slacker and last but not least Yuka (Not to be confused with the Peruvian root vegetable) a pop star. All of them have one thing in common, they are in debt to the tune of about 5 million yen or dollars... it's hard to say because the subtitles never really answer that question. So if they win this little twisted game of strip mahjong they win 10 million bucks. Paying off the debt and walking away 5 million richer.

I must admit as much of a fan as I am of anything Asian I know very little about Majong. This is one of those films that you would enjoy more if you understand and know how to play the game. Think about it this way, imagine if you were watching strip poker but know nothing about poker. Sure it's fun to watch for the T&A but if you know nothing about the game it takes away from the enjoyment. Which brings me to say this film is pretty much Poker After Dark meets a Pink film. It's not a ground breaking film by any means you can find better Asian sleaze almost anywhere else. But the film is interesting for the fact that more interesting then the by the books S&M & T&A and girl on girl action is the actual Majong games. The film manages to build up a good amount of suspense during the various matches. I'll say this the film is a decent time killer, it's no classic of sleaze cinema. But you get a rather absurd concept with it's tongue planted firmly in it's cheek along some pretty solid nudity and some decent suspense.

The anamorphic widescreen transfer is decent enough. It was obviously a very low budget film and was shot to mimic a TV show. The image is a bit murky and soft, details really not that strong but that's no fault of the transfer. I'm pretty sure this was the intended look of the film. 

The 2.0 audio track gets the job done, the dialog is very clear. Really no complaints what-so-ever with the audio. 

Only extras are trailers for other (better) Danger After Dark releases.
Overall it's not a bad little film but certainly it isn't that great or memorable. It's worth a RENT if your having a boring Sunday afternoon or are in the mood for some mildly amusing Japanese sleaze.

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