Sex and violence apparently is the secret ingredient for the best dumplings in this city.
What They Say
No one is really sure exactly what makes it so yummy, but everyone agrees that the super-secret filling recipe at the new dumpling house is the best ever! Some people like it so much, in fact, that they're literally willing to kill to get it. But when some of those same connoisseurs start turning up missing and the police start getting reports of body parts washing up on the beach, it looks like the shop's owner, sweet and luscious little Lin, may have a little explaining to do.
Switchblade Pictures releases aren’t dubbed at this time so this feature is presented in its original Japanese stereo language form only. Encoded at 224kbps, it’s pretty standard material when it comes to the audio department as it’s a basic stereo channel mix without anything really resembling strong directionality. Without too much in the way of depth, there’s nothing that stands out strongly here but it’s conveyed well and it rather does suit the material. We didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of the presentation.
Originally released in 2006, the transfer for this feature is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Made for video, the feature looks rather good in comparison to some of the other initial offerings by Switchblade Pictures when it comes to these works from Museum. There is some grain present in a few scenes, typically darker ones, but by and large the material looks rather clean and clear throughout. The show doesn’t have a film like feel outside of the grainy areas and some of them are really sharp, such as when the lights are brighter and it seems like you could reach out and touch the person. It’s the kind of show that you’d imagine would look rather good in a number of places in high definition. There’s a nice sense of depth throughout and the source material doesn’t suffer from any noticeable cross coloration which is a huge plus as well.
The cover is very nicely framed with dark reds and blacks with a simple logo along the top for Switchblade Pictures and a larger red piece on the bottom saying that it’s the Unrated Limited Edition. The central focus is on that of Mihiro in her very appealing Chinese dress as she’s there with he large blade in her hand. It has that look of sexuality and violence to it which is then made all the more apparent by the hand reaching out from the plate below her. That also gives it a bit of a horror feel which is appealing when you take in the blood splatters around the framing of the cover. The back cover is nicely done as well as the left half is done up with a piece of Mihiro that’s been re-colored to give it a more horror feel as well as putting a few shots from the show over it. To her right is another shot of her in violent mode along with the summary of the premise and the production credits. The bottom portion runs through a fairly standard technical grid which is also clear about what kind of material it is. No inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
None, it just goes right into the feature. After the feature ends, it hits the DVD production credits menu, then a Switchblade Pictures logo screen and then it stops the disc.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
While none of the flicks from Switchblade Pictures have been the kind of must-see films that I would go out of my way to find, I have to admit that I’m enjoying them simply because I don’t know what each one is going to bring. So far I’ve taken in a couple of ninja oriented j-sploitation flicks, a women in prison with a supernatural bent to it and now one revolving around dumplings. Like the other three, it does feature plenty of sex and (comical) violence to it in order to give it a bit more flavor.
Cruel Restaurant revolves around a dumpling restaurant in Japan where it’s become one of the most popular places these days with its out of this world dumplings. Though it’s garnering plenty of attention for its food, it’s also getting attention for other reasons. The police are investigating events in the area as a lot of people have been disappearing lately and there’s also a food critic columnist who is searching for revenge for her dead sister. Add in that body parts are floating up along the beach and you’ve got a region that has plenty of reason to be nervous about things. And when you have a restaurant that’s doing boffo business with its dumplings, it’s easy to see why people in positions of power are casting their eyes in that direction for answers.
The restaurant certainly has a reason to be popular outside of its food as the main attraction is the waitress there, Ms. Lin. Lin is a very sexy young woman who is even more attractive with her short tight skirt and form fitting white blouse top. With a pleasant smile and an eagerness to serve, she’s a serious draw in addition to the delicious food. With the help of her main chef, Mr. Chin, the two cook up some of the best food in town easily every day and sell out quickly. But Lin is haunted by visions of things that disturb her, things she can’t figure out as time goes on. Dead bodies, heads laying about, body parts, blood and more. She begins to wonder if there is something to the rumors she’s hearing and wants to sort it out but is too afraid to.
As events progress, various people start to fall victim to bloody incidents when they engage in time with Lin, but it’s unclear exactly how they meet their end. Visions that Lin have give an idea of what may have happened, but they point towards a potential multiple personality or something more sinister. With bodies disappearing left and right and the dumplings only becoming more appealing, the train of thought is plainly obvious and followed. But sometimes the obvious isn’t where the answer is and Cruel Restaurant plays up that angle pretty well. It’s not exactly filled with surprises, but it leaves enough possible avenues to explore so that you don’t feel like it’s completely predictable right from the first frame.
Similar to Female Prisoner Sigma, there isn’t a whole lot of sex in this particular feature but it does have a bit more than that feature. Mihiro is certainly very attractive as Lin and she has some really fun material here, though it certainly fits with the show for one of them. When a rival chef comes to try and be an apprentice, he’s turned down and that leaves him angry. Angry enough to return later and essentially rape her into accepting him into the position. He does this by laying her out on the counter and using all the foods around him to get her into the right mood. It’s actually quite a comical scene in some ways, watching the egg flowing around her neck. Equally amusing is when we see Lin’s past and come to understand where she learned how to make such delicious dumplings. Her teacher, an older master, “schools” her in the way of making them through her sexuality. It’s not often that you see the creepy old man fooling around with a younger woman in live action like this, at least within these pictures. It reminded me of the bad hentai I’ve seen over the years, but at least here it sort of plays it for laughs.
Cruel Restaurant was the title I was looking forward to the least because it brought to mind all the cannibal visions combined with guerilla budgets and j-sploitation material. To my surprise, it was actually fairly amusing in its own way, especially with the body parts floating around and the lack of realism about it. If it was played as a straight horror/sex flick, it would have been a bit more disturbing, but here it’s practically camp. With a sexy lead or two. And in the end, it’s the simple combination of the sex, violence and camp that allows it to work. This is an amusing distraction, something you put on for giggles and for some basic titillation. It left me with a smile on my face overall, even if it did make me cringe once or twice with what it portrayed.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.