Hello, my dear friends and readers! It has been a long while since I have updated this blog but let me assure you that I haven't forgotten you all and that I still read books and catch up on fellow bookbloggers' posts via Google Reader. I may not have commented on all the posts I read, but I do read them. 

The first moment I logged on to Blogger, I was amazed at how much changes have been made over at Blogger and I figured I would have to explore them when I have some spare time. As of now, I am going to write my thoughts on the DVD I watched lately - Kaiji 2: The Ultimate Gambler. I mentioned this before that I have been searching for the first installment but to no avail to date. However, that does not stop me from watching the second part and I was glad that it could be watched as a standalone, even though there are some flashbacks of the first part to remind the audience some of the scenes it had happened and how these would affect the second part of the story. 

Anyway, the story opens with the leading hero, Kaiji Ito (played by Tatsuya Fujiwara) again being in debt and was sent to the underground to work as labourer. There are many others like him deep in the underground and they never get to see the light of the day. Thinking that he would be struck in there forever, Kaiji is thrilled when he is offered a chance to clear his debt of 200 million Yen but there is a catch. For starters, he has only two weeks to clear off his debts and most of all, he has to play against a beast of a machine dubbed "the swamp" (which is actually a pinball machine and the balls have to go through a few levels before one ball would drop into the red winning hole). Unfortunately, no one has ever won playing against the machine as it is controlled by the illegal casino's ruthless manager, Seiya Ichijo (played by Yusuke Iseya). He has the machine manipulated so that no matter how many times the players play, no one will walk out of that casino as the winner. 

Together with a few fellow "losers" who all have their own shares of misfortunes and emotional baggage on their shoulders, they decided to think of ways on how to beat the unbeatable "swamp" while hoping that time and Lady Luck would be on their side before they lose everything, again.

While Kaiji 2 is all about gambling and survival, I have to say this movie is also about humanity and yes, courage and determination. While I do not encourage anyone to gamble and be addicted to it, I do admire the strong determination and courage in the leading hero, Kaiji, and how in the end, it is not only about the money but also to redeem the freedom of his fellow friends in the underground as well. As for the entertaining part, what really held my interest is how "the swamp" is invented by using the logic of mathematics and even the laws of gravity! While one may find it hard to grasp on how these factors could apply to the machine, still you have to marvel at the invention and the mastermind behind it. 

Released in November last year, this Japanese movie made waves in Singapore as there was a star tour following its release and interviews of the leading actor, Tatsuya Fujiwara. These bonus features are included in the DVD as well and although the movie is in Japanese, there are English and Chinese subtitles to choose from. I am expecting a Part 3 because the ending scene definitely allows one to wonder about one particular character's fate. Bring it on, Kaiji Ito!