X Game (Yôhei Fukuda, 2010)
First off: X Game is not a movie about extreme snowboarding or anything along those lines. Here’s a hypothesis for you, and I rush to add I’m pulling this solely from my memory and have done no research on it whatsoever: there’s a slasher-film subgenre that arose in southeast Asia a few years back, got extremely popular, and then faded just as quickly into obscurity that seems to center around high schools. (I’m going to step a little farther out on this limb and suggest that it might have been spawned by the enduring popularity of the Ghost School [Yeogo Goedam] trilogy from Korea—Whispering Corridors, Memento Mori, and Wishing Stairs—that has since spawned a number of equally successfully sequels, including the phenomenal Voice.) I can think off the top of my head of a half-dozen or so movies that fit the bill, all Japanese and all released, if memory serves, between 2007 and 2010, I’ve seen along these lines. X Game is the most recent one to cross my eyes. It’s not the best of the lot by any means (the aforementioned Voice pretty much, if you’ll pardon the pun, rules that school), but it’s not the worst, either.
Plot: A primary school teacher becomes an Internet sensation after his gory suicide is released on Youtube. The next day, the alumni from one of his classes, all of whom must have been drugged in some way, awaken in their old classroom and, after some rather painful prodding, agree to take part in X Game, a series of torture exercises that take the tactics the students used, while they were in this class some years back, to bully a classmate named Mariko. I’m sure you can see where this is going.
X Game never strays from formula, which pretty much by definition means you’re not going to get the same kinds of pleasant surprises one finds when one stumbles upon a movie like Voice, Dek Hor (released in English-speaking countries as Dorm), or Say My Name 3x. On the other hand, Fukuda has a sense of pace that some of his contemporaries lack, which makes the film feel like a better option for spending one’s time than some of the other flicks that reside in this subgenre (Gosa, Art of the Devil II, Du Saram-yida if you turn your head and squint right). In other words, you don’t need to go out of your way to score a copy, but if you stumble upon it on Netflix Instant sometime and you like that sort of thing, you could certainly do worse. Predictable and not terribly inspiring, but kind of fun. ** ½
Trailer. Engsubbed..for HER pleasure.