Drama Fantasia Festival

Fantasia Festival Review: ‘Kakegurui 2: Ultimate Russian Roulette’ Deals a Second Round of Japanese Drama and Over-the-Top Spectacle

September 10, 2021Ben MK

What if there was a school run entirely by the student council, and what if advancement at this school wasn't based on academics at all, but rather on gambling? In Kakegurui, director Tsutomu Hanabusa gave moviegoers the answer to this very question, and now, in Kakegurui 2: Ultimate Russian Roulette, Hanabusa and his colorful cast of over-the-top characters are back, in this followup to the live-action adaptation of the popular manga and anime series of the same name.

Once again, the setting is Hyakkaoh Private Academy, a century-old academic institution where the children of the rich and powerful are sent to hone the killer instincts that allowed their parents to be so successful. But when a new student named Yumeko Jabami (Minami Hamabe) defeated more than half the student council members at their own game, it altered the balance of power at Hyakkaoah forever. Now, in the wake of those earth-shattering events, the student council — led by president Kirari Momobami (Elaiza Ikeda) — are out to get their revenge on Yumeko and her friends. Enlisting the services of exiled former student and expert gambler Makuro Shikigami (Ryusei Fujii), Kirari and her followers plan to reestablish themselves among the upper echelons of the school hierarchy. What none of them counted on, however, is how far Makuro will go to exact his own vengeance on those that banished him. And when the situation spirals out of control, it's up to Yumeko to stop him.

Much like its predecessor, the result is sure to please fans of the series. Yet, what's surprising is how welcoming this sequel is to newcomers to the franchise as well. Suffice to say, viewers needn't have any knowledge of the first big screen installment to enjoy Kakegurui 2's scenery-chewing antics. All that's required is an appreciation for some good old-fashioned Japanese drama infused with a healthy dose of fantastical spectacle.

Kakegurui 2: Ultimate Russian Roulette makes its North American premiere at the 2021 Fantasia International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 59 min.

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