Ride or Die
By John Sooja,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Japanese romantic drama has graphic violence, sex, nudity.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
True love is worth fighting for. Domestic violence remains a problem many face every day.
Positive Role Models
While not traditionally positive characters, Rei and Nanae still love each other fiercely.
Violence & Scariness
Incredibly violent and bloody, and the camera doesn't cut away. Sometimes the violence happens suddenly. A man is stabbed in the neck, and then gets his neck slashed open; blood everywhere. A man bashes a woman's head into a wall. A woman is beaten, slapped, hit, kicked, and thrown by her husband. Child abuse is implied and referenced. A woman punches another woman, grabs her hair, and screams in her face. Young women graphically discuss how to kill themselves, and the topic comes up often. A woman undresses, and her naked body is covered in bruises, welts, and discoloration. A double eyelid surgery is shown with scalpel cutting into an eyelid. Some violent penetrative sex.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Full nudity, mainly women. Long and lingering shots and scenes of naked women. Bare breasts are on screen often. A handful of lengthy sex scenes. Aggressive thrusting and penetration shown, both gay and straight. A woman gives a man oral sex. Women give each other oral sex. Some romantic kissing.
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Strong language includes "f--k," "c--t," and "s--t."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol. Some drunken behavior shown.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ride or Die is an incredibly violent and sexually graphic Japanese romantic drama. Based on the Japanese manga Gunjo by Ching Nakamura, this live-action adaptation sticks to its source material pretty well. The story follows two young women reconnecting under dire circumstances. Nanae is routinely beaten and abused by her husband and asks Rei to kill him. In their Thelma and Louise-esque adventure, Rei and Nanae wrestle with their past lives, Japanese homophobia and anti-gay cultural and societal beliefs, doomed futures, and their forbidden love for one another. Expect sudden and very graphic violence, blood, and ruthlessness. There are scenes that show double eyelid surgery, a woman's nude body after being beaten and abused by her husband, and domestic violence, including a man bashing his wife's head into a wall repeatedly. Expect lots of graphic nudity, long sex scenes, and lingering shots of bare breasts. Strong language includes "f--k," "c--t," and "s--t." Adults smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol. Some drunken behavior shown.
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Ride or Die
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What's the Story?
In RIDE OR DIE, Rei Nagasawa (Kiko Mizuhara) has loved Nanae Shinoda (Honami Satô) since high school. But in the years since, they each have gone their own ways. Suddenly, Rei is contacted by Nanae, and they meet up. After reconnecting, Nanae confesses that her husband routinely beats her, and because of this, she wants to die. She also wants her husband to die, and who knows how far Rei will go to protect the one she loves?
Is It Any Good?
This film is too long, and many viewers might find its heavy and gratuitous sexual content unjustified. Unfortunately, Ride or Die might simply just work better as a manga (as it was adapted from) or piece of literature. Specifically, Chin Nakamura's original scope and design of Rei and Nanae were arguably meant to be much more normative, average, and likeable as people. This way, when they end up doing the things they do, the juxtaposition is better realized, which makes for a clearer commentary on Japanese society. But in this film adaptation, Rei and Nanae, and especially Rei, come across as odd, wild, and easily motivated to kill, for example. Part of this might also have to do with the sequencing of these story elements, as the film provides little context (outside of brief high school flashbacks) into Rei and Nanae's love and relationship before the event the causes them to go on the run. Ultimately, these issues, along with general pacing and tone problems, as well as being way too long, keep Ride or Die from being enjoyable.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about sexual content in romantic dramas. Do you think all the sexual content and nudity in Ride or Die was warranted? Why or why not?
Discuss the brutal violence in the film. Why do you think the violence was depicted so brazenly? If the film were to have muted its violence, would it be less or more successful? Why?
Do you think the love between Rei and Nanae was represented well? What would you have changed?
- On DVD or streaming: April 15, 2021
- Cast: Kiko Mizuhara, Honami Sato, Yoko Maki, Minami Sara
- Director: Ryuichi Hiroki
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Friendship
- Run time: 142 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: February 17, 2023
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