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If You Were Young: Rage

Though some found it odd that a 70-year-old man could direct 2000's controversial Battle Royale — an insightful and incendiary social commentary/black comedy about teenage kids stuck on an island who are meant to kill each other, and which was considered unreleasable in the U.S. due to its violent content — it's worth noting that Kinji Fukasaku never let go of the anger and passion that youth often instills. His 1970 film If You Were Young: Rage is another example of Fukasaku applying social commentary, and his personal agenda, to a story about both growing up, and the challenges of the class system. Kikuo (Tetsuo Ishidate) and Asao (Gin Maeda) are two young men lacking much education who scrimp and save their money to afford a green pick-up truck they christen "Freedom #1." The truck has been a dream of theirs for a while, back when it was the dream for them and three other friends. But the group got smaller when one got married to a wanton woman who now keeps him browbeaten, while another's in jail, and another was murdered while trying to help with the down payment for the vehicle by strike-breaking. Now that they have their truck, other dramas develop — both men become involved with different sisters of their fallen comrades, their own strike-breaking leads to their truck being vandalized, and (most importantly) when the jailed friend breaks out, he hides with them, and they feel conflicted about shepherding him. Considered a lost film, If You Were Young: Rage is a small effort, and the conclusion seems to owe a debt to Midnight Cowboy. But Fukasaku is deeply engaged with the troubles of being an under-educated, lower-class laborer, and the film creates empathy for its struggling protagonists. When the movie arrives at its conclusion, it's interesting to note that, though bad things happen (much as in the ending of Battle Royale), Fukasaku sees hope for his characters — they have been dealt some serious blows, but they can recover and move on. Home Vision Entertainment presents If You Were Young: Rage in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) and in monaural audio. Extras include a liner essay by Tom Mes, co-founder of midnighteye.com, a Fukasaku filmography, and an eight-minute interview with Fukasaku that was conducted shortly before his death, wherein he draws parallels between this film and his final effort Royale. Keep-case.

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