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Kill Devil

Review by: 
Don't Feed the Dead
Release Date: 
Urban Vision
Aspect Ratio: 
Directed by: 
Yuichi Onuma
Yoshiko Kato
Masahiro Kuranuki
Yoshihisa Higashiyama
Bottom Line: 

 Another futuristic look at how Japanese society will deal with violence, Kill Devil is somewhat of a Battle Royale knock-off. Rather than approaching the subject of the slack Japanese teen pop-culture, Yuichi Onuma's film deals with the discovery of a human gene which, over time, causes its host to become more volatile and create acts of violence. Of course, the government has to step in and research the gene development on an isolated island, so what better way to conduct an experiment than with a group of teenagers turned rabid killers.
Waking on a beach, the main character (who's only form of identification is a bracelet tagged "Shougo") is perplexed as to where he is, or even who he is for that matter. Completely lost from a geographical and identity standpoint, Shougo begins to wander around the island until he comes across other teenagers who have no idea of their whereabouts or their backgrounds. Not long after meeting up with some relatively innocent folks, Shougo finds out that there are a few violent types roaming the island. In Particular, one rather predatory boy wielding a scythe and chasing down everything that breathes. As the day progresses, Shougo and his small group find more teenage inhabitants of the island and the larger group begins to question their whereabouts and the purpose of the electronic bracelets they sport.
In addition to the bracelets, some of the teenagers begin to ponder the purpose of the large radio tower smack dab in the middle of the island. It takes very little time for the group to discover that the radio tower emits a transmission that causes particular hosts with the bracelets to embark on killing sprees, ultimately diminishing the large group to a much smaller, survival-centric few. This lucky trio of survivors is ultimately captured by the scientists behind the whole experiment, and the viewer is finally given the backdrop as to what the hell is going on between the radio tower, the bracelets and the experiment. However, the killing is not done and Shougo just might have to slash his way through the two people he's learned to trust in order to survive.
Now granted, it's easy to write Kill Devil off as a BR ripoff (in fact, I did do it a couple paragraphs ago!), but Director Yuichi Onuma and writers Hiroshi Kanno and Mikaho Ishikawa definitely crafted an interesting storyline. From a criminal studies/ psychology background, it was a gratifying experience to see the subject of violence approached from a genetic standpoint, rather than the typical "product of one's environment" plotline. Of course, the story could have been executed better and the "scientists" could have been given more credibility than the appearance of a group of Troma film hacks. I guess building a budget on very little yen only goes so far these days.
By way of extras, Kill Devil is quite slim - like Kate Moss on a cocaine binge slim. Offering up a few trailers for other Urban Vision films like Azumi, Curse Death and Spirit and Kokkuri, the only significant bonus on the disc is an alternate ending which varies significantly from the one already in place. Again, not much by way of additional content, but one can only expect so much from low-budget Asian filmmaking. Hell, even Takashi Miike's official releases offer up very little by way of bonus content.
When it's all said and done, Kill Devil is a standard, run of the mill mediocre Asian slasher. However, the mere fact that Urban Vision is making the attempt to bring notoriety to the "lesser knowns" of South Pacific filmmakers is extremely good news. Without the constant exposure of these low budget, big idea flicks American audiences would ultimately miss out on some of the finer films to come from that area of the world. When audiences grow tired of the repetitious "creepy dead girl" ghost films it's reassuring to know that distributors like Urban Vision will release the potential diamond in the rough.

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