Taira (Yuya Yagira) leaves his hometown and his little brother, Shota (Nijiro Murakami), and goes off on a journey to get into fights with just about anyone he sees. He’s joined by misogynist video gamer Yuya (Masaki Suda), who uses Taira’s crusade as an excuse to hit women. Together, they kidnap Nana (Nana Komatsu) and hit the road, all while Shota searches for Taira. That’s about all there is to Tetsuya Mariko’s Destruction Babies, a film characterized by brutality filmed in unfussy long takes and a general disinterest in narrative momentum. The result is a drab experience in which one dull fight scene leads to the next, at least until Yuya takes center stage. And then the film’s mostly just vile. Destruction Babies does occasionally contextualize its repetitive violence within a cultural tradition that prizes strength and aggression, most notably during a festival that features combat via portable Shinto shrines. But these moments can’t help but feel like cheap moralizing in the face of the film’s dour, nihilistic procession.
Published as part of New York Asian Film Festival | Dispatch 2.