When eleven less than desirable people find themselves in a game with their lives at risk, they must work together to survive it.
What They Say
Neo Tokyo in the year 2XXX AD. Eleven people, all with criminal backgrounds and different talents, awake in a deserted warehouse. They have been brought here by The Baron, the leader of an orginazation called the Black Papillon Foundation. They are forced to play a game with a reward of 300 million yen and a chance to start a new life. Only one will survive the race to the Barons mansion and end up with the reward. Heavily influenced by the classic Japanese movie Battle Royale, Tokyo 10+1 is a parody of the original with its own twists.
Discotek continues to do things right when it comes to its audio presentations by making sure the original language track doesn't get the short end of the stick. Tokyo Eleven has a standard stereo mix to it but gets a nice bump up in the encoding rate to 384kbps which helps give some of the scenes a little more oomph. With only one language track on here, they give it a bit more room to breathe and the mix is fairly decent considering the source material itself. This isn't a feature that stretches the audio team much as it's very center channel based outside of a few scenes where the action moves across the soundstage. We didn't have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released in 2003, the transfer for this feature is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 but is not enhanced for anamorphic playback. Tokyo Eleven has a very low budget look to it with its transfer that's filled with grain and noise. Much of it takes place in murky areas at night so it doesn't have a very good look to it at all, and even less so when it's a block of video surrounded by black all around because of its non-anamorphic nature. The transfer does provide a certain look for the show and it looks to capture the source material well, but it's not a terribly appealing feature in this area overall. Detail is lost to the shadows and the amount of noise can be overpowering in some scenes.
The cover for this release is one of the best ones as it really stands out and looks distinctive. White backgrounds are fairly common for Japanese releases and rarely get used here, but with this it really captures your eye. The two characters of Snake and Coco are standing legs apart, guns out and looking a little disaffected in their expressions but there’s such a great blurring of the background to their skin and clothes that it adds something neat to it. The logo is done through the center with a pair of red strips that also has the black butterfly under it which ties things together in a very strong way. Simple and few colors but distinctive ones throughout. The back cover has more white and uses red for the slightly larger than normal font of the summary which covers the basics of what to expect and who is in it. There’s a good collage of gun toting shots along the left while below the summary we get a few more shots from the film and then the extras available on the release. The remainder is give over t a decent amount of white space and the technical grid that contain all the right information about how the disc is put together.
The menu design I think would have worked better if it had used what they did with the front cover of the package. This has three of the participants, two of which we saw on the front cover that looks to have been mirrored for Snake, but set against a red and black background that’s really indistinct overall outside of the butterfly that’s underneath the menu navigation. It’s a bit softer here and because of the red and blacks behind them, comes across too murky and not striking enough. The navigation is straightforward and the subtitle option is right on the top level but there’s no music so it’s a very simple static menu. Submenus do load quickly when accessed and it’s very easy to move around and problem free.
This release has some decent extras to it that’ll please fans of the film and those behind it. The first is a two minute promo video with some decent music to it that shows off a few behind the scene moments and tends to focus a bit on EDDIE though it does cover several of the actors. The next extra is a “Speech of the First Day” piece that runs under four minutes and has some of the press junket material with the actors talking a little bit about their characters in front of an audience which is cute but fluffy. I loved that one of the actors talked about how great it was to be involved in a “stupid” movie finally. The last extra is a talk show piece that runs about five minutes in which Coco’s actress and the director get together to talk about the feature and their experiences on it.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the release of Battle Royale back in 2000, there were a slew of knock-offs made to capitalize on it. Tokyo 10+01, which also calls itself Tokyo Eleven in the opening credits, certainly works off of that premise and even has a couple of actors from Battle Royale in it. The film tries to use the same kind of basic design but goes for more of a creepy comical kind of violence to it in order to be different but largely fails because of it. Instead of being chilling and brutal, it ends up being silly and predictable.
The feature opens by introducing us to eleven less than pleasant people in Japan who all have different kinds of criminal or deviant backgrounds. They've got problems that have them under the eye of the law, such as the woman who named Coco who assassinates men or a man named Snake who is responsible for an incident that occurred at the Tokyo Tower, a place that's now a fairly twisted version of it itself. With the film taking place some time in the 21st century, there are some very amusing poorly done CG scenes where we see the cityscape of this near future. The opening tries to go quirky by showing a still of the eleven people who populate those playing the game followed by a few drawings of them, almost in caricature, as it explains why they're such terrible people. Some are interesting, such as the two mentioned, others aren't memorable in the slightest.
All eleven find themselves waking up together in an abandoned warehouse at night surrounded by goons with guns and led by a man wearing a fedora known only as Mr. K. Mr. K. explains the situation to them, that they've all been brought in by the Black Papilion group to play a game organized by the groups founder, the Baron. With a prize of three hundred million yen, they've all had wristbands strapped onto them and they have eleven hours to go from their present location to the Baron's mansion in eleven hours in order to win. They're going to be split into various teams and have to work towards their goal without any help, money or phones. The ones who win will have the prize money awarded to them as well as having their records wiped clean. It comes across as a very easy game overall until Mr. K adds a rule onto the end that they can't remove the wristbands as a poison will be injected into their bloodstream.
That adds the first element of danger to the game as the various groups split up and head towards the goal. The other element that gets introduced is that the men with the laser guns – fake lasers is what people are told – turn out to be machine guns instead and they're actively hunting down the participants so they can kill them. Like any good human hunt, some of the participants turn against each other, some reveal more of themselves and others showcase more honor than you would have expected as well. There's a lot of fear among the group overall of Snake because of his run-in with the police which adds another level of stress to it as well. As the group gets whittled down – and their names and participant number flashes across the screen in good Battle Royale fashion – the secrets of the storyline are revealed which is supposed to add a bit more emotional impact. Instead it lacks anything when we have the big reveal simply because the characters got so little depth and exploration given to them before they started getting killed by each other and those assigned to killing them. With the short runtime overall, clocking in at just seventy minutes, there isn't a lot of time to really work through anything significant with eleven participants.
Tokyo Eleven certainly shows where it came from while feeling like it's a pretty low budget version of it. It lacks the polish of the property it's trying to mimic and lacks anything that really sets it apart. None of the characters are memorable, the CG moments are comical and they don't do anything to really push the 20xx time frame which would give it a little more personality. It's a simple elimination game with a large cast of characters that get a few lines here and there while making their run towards the goal, though you know very few will actually make it. All this did was make me long to see Battle Royale again.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Talk Show Appearance, Promotional Video, Premiere Speech
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.