Directed by: Mark P. Forever
Written by: Ryosuke Oomine
Featuring: Nina, Hiroaki Kawatsure, Kaori Sasaki, Hitomi Usano, Mako Higashio
In Strip Mahjong: Battle Royale, four women are abducted, chained and taken to a dark warehouse where they are forced to play a televised game of, yes, strip mahjong. You heard that correctly. A strip version of the methodical tile game. An electrified collar around their necks assures that they will remain obedient and do as their lecherous host Kato (Helldriver's Hiroaki Kawatsure) requests.
It is eventually revealed that the women were chosen because of heavy debt they have each accrued playing mahjong online. Not only are the women forced to strip when they lose a round, they are put in cage and humiliated as they are taking off their clothing. Balloons are inflated underneath bras, plastic "reach claws" grab breasts and other equally banal tortures are inflicted upon the victims. Losers are raped or forced into lesbian sex before they are killed by electrocution. The winner will receive $10 million and, presumably, their life will be spared.
The two distinguishing characteristics of this bizarre little trifle are a pitch-black sense of humor and random voiceovers of the captives. The film sets itself up as a satire of extreme Japanese game shows, and the first few minutes are somewhat successful within this framework. However, once the game starts, it becomes clear that viewers will need some familiarity with mahjong as much emphasis is placed upon the playing of certain tiles. The premise is so half-baked that it’s unlikely even a seasoned player would care about the outcome.
The conceit of watching an actual show (complete with game commentary) is pushed aside once we begin to hear the thoughts of the women playing the game. While this might have been an opportunity to add some character development (and maybe some sympathy), the inner dialogue of the imprisoned players adds little to their plight or the “suspense” of the game. One of the women has a boyfriend in the Yakuza, one is married with a secret life and one is, naturally, a lesbian. All of this background information goes nowhere, as do the threats of the host to “reveal their souls.”
Most viewers of this type of film will want to know whether or not it hits the right notes of exploitation. The women do indeed strip and there is ample nudity for the curious. There is also quite a bit of anime-type torture, the kind that compels tiny Japanese women to moan in that clichéd combination of agony and ecstacy. A rape is implied at one point, but forced lesbian sex is shown in (softcore) detail.
Much of the action consists of the host luridly groping the women while making them confess to ridiculous truths that are of no particular consequence. Having them reveal the reason for a tattoo, for instance, is apparently the heavy “soul revealing” promised at the beginning. Though the subtitle might imply a more violent film, Strip Mahjong: Battle Royale isn’t interested in blood and gore. This is strictly a bondage/male fantasy trip that has all the basic requirements for adult anime (save for the simpering schoolgirl in uniform).
The advertising trumpets a thriller in the tradition of '70s “sexploitation” flicks, but even films in that genre contained a modicum of plot. Directed by an unknown with the curious name of Mark P. Forever, Strip Mahjong is a slickly edited and produced piece of Japanese exploitation. As empty softcore titillation, I guess it delivers, but its value otherwise is negligible. The film’s running time is a merciful 77 minutes, ensuring its slight, silly narrative (concocted by writer Ryosuke Oomine) is quickly forgotten. This Danger After Dark release features an anamorphic widescreen presentation, English subtitles and the trailer.