United Red Army

Directed by Kôji Wakamatsu


Koji Wakamatsu's epic docudrama explores the political unrest of 1960s Japan, when mass student uprisings coincided with the beginnings of the far-left United Red Army group, which tortured and murdered its "deviant" members during a 1972 training session. An uncompromising piece of filmmaking from one of Japan's most controversial filmmakers, with a score by American musician (and ex-Sonic Youth member) Jim O'Rourke.

Film Info

Release Year: 2007
Running Time: 190
Color Type: Color
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese with English subtitles

In his epic film United Red Army, Japanese auteur Koji Wakamatsu brilliantly depicts the most troubling and infamous episode of the history of Japan's radical left-wing student movement. Interspersed with archival footage relating the origins of the political unrest of the 1960s, the film introduces the young men and women who will ultimately go on to become militant activists seeking to overthrow the established world order. As two of the most radical student groups come together to form the United Red Army (URA) and head into the mountains to conduct a training camp, ideology devolves into despotism, and the URA's leaders begin to arbitrarily persecute their own followers, a harrowing ordeal which culminates in violence and murder.

Weaving together elements of both documentary filmmaking and drama, United Red Army draws to a thrilling close when the remaining URA members break into a mountain lodge and hold a hostage captive - leading to an intense, climactic standoff with the police.


    Akie Namiki (Hiroko Nagata)
    Arata (Hiroshi Sakaguchi)
    Gô Jibiki (Tsuneo Mori)
    Maki Sakai (Mieko Toyama)
    Shima Ohnishi (Kunio Bando)


  • Directed by Kôji Wakamatsu
  • Written by Kôji Wakamatsu , Masayuki Kakegawa
  • Cinematography by Tomohiko Tsuji , Yoshihisa Toda

Festivals / Awards

CICAE Award Berlinale
Official Selection Tokyo International Film Festival


"Progresses from breathless history lesson to grueling chamber piece to tense action thriller." - Dennis Lim, The New York Times

"One of the best films of the decade!" - Sight & Sound

"A monumental chronicle of Japan's ultra-left movement...Wakamatsu's masterpiece!" - Christopher Huber, Cinema Scope

"A must-see." - Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com


  • The RLF makes the trek across the mountain through the snow
    • Anri Ban as Fusako Shigenobu, founder of the Japanese Red Army.
      • Amidst the barricades at Chuo University
        • Kato and Kojima are beaten and forced to undergo "self-critique".
          • The lodge-keeper (Kaoru Okunuki) is held hostage.