If You Were Young Rage DVD Review

Cover Art and Menu: 8/10
Another cool cover from Home Vision Entertainment. I’m liking the style of these DVD’s, hope they keep it up. It’s so simple but still has style. I appreciate that.

The menu us pretty simple starting with a brief clip from the movie and then kind of slipping into a very basic menu, but with a stylized image to match the cover. We aren’t talking works of art here, but at least they make the effort to stand out from the crowd.

Extras & Features: 7/10

  • Interview with director Fukasaku – A very short interview segment with Fukasaku talking about how and why he made If You Were Young. He mentions the difficulties of youth in Japan after the war and several other topics that give you some background for the kind of movies he made in his lifetime. Ohhh but it’s too short.
  • Liner notes written by Tom Mes- Another short and sweet extra. Just a two fold insert with the DVD that explains how this movie was lost for a long time and rediscovered. It’s not an essay about the film exactly, but a brief history of how it came to be on DVD in America. It does run down a few of the themes that weave themselves through Fukasaku’s films. I would like to see a whole booklet in one of these DVD’s with lots more history and information about this influential director and other film makers of his time outlining how their style influenced or was influenced by films from around the world….maybe I should write to HVE and see about getting that done..haha

For a movie that the original was lost for several years, they got a pretty good result with their transfer. The picture has that 60’s/70’s grain to it, but then you have to consider the source.

The Movie: 7/10:
I could be pretentious and boring and talk about the social implications of a group of young men so desperate for freedom that they struggle to buy a simple dump truck in order to break free from the oppressive economic system that controls them. I could be just like other reviewers who mention the long lasting effects of post-WWII reconstruction in Japan and how that meant sucking the life out of the generation who had the burden of rebuilding on their backs. This generation, who by the late 1960’s, had been left uneducated, over worked, and underpaid by the government and big corporations who left them to rot after they absorbed the best years of their lives tirelessly putting their nation back together. All of which brings us to the heart of the matter, the 20-somethings of Japan in the 1960’s had something to rebel against, and it was reflected in the films of the time. Sound familiar?

I do give credit to Fukasaku (Director) for making his first independent effort one of substance and conviction. This film was a missing piece in the puzzle that is Fukasaku’s career. After leaving the Japanese film studio system to make his own kind of films he was free to tell stories the way he wanted, not controlled by the machine that is often compared to Hollywood. If You WereYoung: Rage was lost for many years but later rediscovered as his first movie made on his own with the support of an independent film company. It’s not wonder the theme of the movie is freedom and starting over in life.

It’s good but it’s not brilliant. It’s strong but not as powerful as some people have said in their reviews. To be honest, it’s a good movie, but has some weaknesses. The main thing that distracted me from the story was one of the leading men. The character Asao is played by an actor who did not convince me at any point in the film that he was genuinely troubled or “a working class” kind of guy. His performance was always one step away from the rest of the cast, meaning that he never seems to fit the part exactly because his style is so different. He seems like he should be in a Broadway play instead of on the big screen. With his big gestures and campy reactions he sometimes comes off as comical instead of serious, which is the opposite of the type of character he is playing.

The other weaknesses might just skim the surface like some poor dialogue, unconvincing sound dubbing, and a couple of scenes that portray the youthfulness of the characters as being silly, unfocused, and untamed rather than troubled and trying to overcome the serious obstacles that they are faced with.

Visually the film is pretty cool. I love Fukasaku’s style of still frames during a narrative and a few almost dreamy sequences that add a lot of texture to the overall experience of the movie. There are a lot of interesting uses of the camera, as with his other film My Life As A Blackmailer and the editing gives the movie a fevered pace that hardly lets up from start to finish.

The women in this movie go from servant to strong in the blink of an eye, so don’t discount their role in telling this story. A devoted mother and sister who, while doing their duty to cook and clean, break free from the stereotype and make their presence known. Another sister is more of the mysterious lover type, a bit loose with her love, if you know what I mean, but wise and troubled, not weak or subservient.

So, leaving the pretentiousness behind, I would just like to say this is a film about young people finding their way in the world by buying their own dump truck and overcoming their personal adversities. One is a criminal, one is saddled with a constantly pregnant wife, one let’s his convictions put him in harm’s way, one has seen his mother sell herself to get by, and the last one, well, he has had some hard times, but he is kind of the Jughead of the group..no offense intended. Their bond breaks apart little by little and they are left to face the harsh reality that their obsession with becoming independent has become a new trap that controls them just the same.

Value: 7/10
I’m done commenting on the prices of these Japanese DVD’s. I know they have to charge more and I can live with that. Awwwee aren’t you glad I finally stopped complaining about DVD prices? Well, just Japanese imports, everything else is fair game for my wrath!

Overall Score 7/10