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Original Title:
Party 7

Japan 2000


Katsuhito Ishii

Masatoshi Nagase
Akemi Kobayashi
Yoshinori Okada
Keisuke Horibe
Tatsuya Gashuin
Yoshio Harada
Tadanobu Asano

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Party 7

Story: Miki (Masatoshi Nagase) checks in at the small hotel "New Mexico", which is located far away from the rest of civilization. He has his reasons to be that cautious, as he robbed his boss of several millions. However, somehow his ex-girlfriend Kana (Akemi Kobayashi) manages to find him. She wants the money that he is still owning her, but he doesn't want to hand it over to her as long as he doesn't know what she needs the money for. The reason soon appears in form of Kana's new boyfriend Todohira (Yoshinori Okada). The three get into a fight, but they are interrupted by Sonoda (Keisuke Horibe), who has come to get his boss' money back. Eventually, the killer Wakagashi (Tatsuya Gashuin) enters the scene, because he is angry as hell that Sonoda took his car for the mission.
While the bunch of odd people is "discussing" their difficulties, they are observed by Captain Banana (Yoshio Harada) and Okita (Tadanobu Asano), the son of the former hotel owner. A confrontation between the 7 characters seems to be inevitable...

Review: "Party 7" is one of those Japanese movies that will remain a mystery for most western audiences, because of its absurd humour. The movie starts in best Tarantino manner with two hotel employees, who are talking about trivial things and despite that convey the impression that they are conversing about something important in fact. Actually, they are talking about faeces, which is vertically falling from the sky. Sounds strange? Well, it is... But it doesn't mean that it's not funny in a strange way, anyway.

Just as random as this the movie continues. The story, if you really want to call it like this, is more of a byproduct of the film. It's all about nothing, or rather seven persons, who clash into each other in a hotel room and shout at each other without any apparent reason. Sure, there are without a doubt some really funny moments, but most of the time the fast and sometimes absolutely senseless dialogues are way too contrived. If adult males yell at each other according to the scheme "No - yes - no - yes..." then the viewer feels like his precious time is stolen from him.

Director Katsuhito Ishii ("Shark Skin Man Peach Hip Girl") surely proves that he has a trained eye for good visuals. Since he adapts a comic book with "Party 7", it's not surprising that not only the humour is wacky and odd, but the picture is, too. This includes the speedy and animated intro as well as the costume of Captain Banana. Apart from that, there are also some very interesting camera shots, e.g. through the barrel of a gun or a coin slot. When it comes to the point, the cutting of the scenes is also very well, so that the pacing is very fast at times. However, most of the time the film is relatively slow. There isn't much happening at all and lots and lots of witless dialogues spoil the entertainment factor. This even leads to simple boredom every now and then.

There isn't much to talk about concerning the acting in such a ludicrous flick. The performances of most of the actors are, as they certainly were supposed to be, inordinately. Only Yoshio Harada ("Azumi"), who is in business for several years already, manages to give his character Captain Banana almost something like a background. In contrast to his efforts are the shallow performances of persons like Kana, played by Akemi Kobayashi. Most characters are full of stereotypes, anyway, which is nothing we wouldn't have expected since the movie is a comic adapation. Yet, it becomes a nuisance on more than one occasion.

About the humour: Well, there are quite some jokes, but sadly most of the time they just feel too forced. Some play of words won't be understood by western audiences, naturally, and the rest of the dialogues just feels as if one desperately tried to pack something funny into them. Then there are also some scenes that maybe just can make sense for Japanese. And if you can or cannot laugh about Captain Banana and his costume strongly depends on which kind of humour you prefer. Nevertheless, the movie can deliver one incredibly funny scene at the end, which can increase the film's value by quite some points. In this scene all seven main characters clash at each other finally and in best manga-like style it's all haywire. Situational comedy at its best. Unfortunately, that's not enough to raise the movie above its mediocrity.

A very thin plot, at times lifeless characters and contrived jokes make "Party 7" a movie that stays way behind its potential.
The odd kind of humour won't appeal to everyone and so it is a matter of taste if Ishii's work can make you laugh at least a couple of times or if it's just a waste of time. Fans of absurd Japanese humour can give it a try, though.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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