Archive for April 8th, 2012

Crows Zero (2007)

This is a movie I watched some years ago but only now I’m getting a chance to review it.

Suzuran Boys High aka The School Of Crows is one of the roughest and toughest schools in the country where the way of the fists dictate where you stand in the pecking order there. No lessons ever takes place there and it’s just a territory where rival gangs beat the crap out of each other for supremacy. Into this hellhole comes Genji Takaya, a transfer student with a mission to be the top dog at the school in order to impress his yakuza boss father. Be in charge of the school and he’ll be able to take over as the head of his father’s organisation in the future. But becoming no.1 at Suzuran won’t be easy. Barring his way is Tamao Serizawa who’s the current leader and with a powerful gang backing him up, Genji has an enormous task on his hands. Help is at hand however in the form of Ken Katagiri, a low ranking yakuza member who was a pupil at Suzuran but never made it to the top himself. Ken sees a lot of himself in Genji. He takes Genji under his wing and advises him on what he needs to do to achieve his goal. Genji moves his way up the ladder and proves his mettle against rival gangs at the school. It is only by doing this and building alliances that he can ever have a crack at becoming the leader on campus. The showdown between Genji and Serizawa is inevitable but who will triumph in the battle to control Suzuran?

Crows Zero is a testosterone fuelled, in-your-face violent movie by Takashi Miike which will certainly appeal to teenage boys more than anything. On saying that I really liked it and I’m certainly not a teenager. The plot might seem for some to be a mere excuse for a lot of kick-ass fighting to take place. The fight scenes are excellently choreographed, brutally violent and rather exciting to watch. It’s such a cool looking movie which is helped by such a great young cast dressed all in black (some of them have an outrageous hairstyle!) and a brilliant soundtrack. It might lack the usual creativity that we’ve come to expect from Miike but it’s no less fantastic. This is essentially a gangster movie set against the backdrop of a high school. There is more to Crows Zero than just brawls and fighting – it’s about friendship, strategy, being diplomatic when needed and having guts.

Shun Oguri and Takayuki Yamada are superb in their roles as Genji and Serizawa but I suppose it’s Kyosuke Yabe as Ken Katagiri who stands out more than anybody. The only worthy female eye candy on display in this movie is Meisa Kuroki. 99% of the cast is male so it was nice to have an attractive female like Meisa as a counteract for that though she isn’t onscreen for very long.

Takashi Miike did a very good job in adapting this popular manga and bringing it to the big screen. It was very entertaining and at 2 hours long it didn’t overstay it’s welcome. I have no hesitation in recommending Crows Zero to anybody.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5.

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A female police officer Ching manages to kill a member of the Five Fingers group during a police shootout. They come gunning for revenge and are able to frame her for the murder of several glue sniffing youths when she’s locked up in the boot of a car. Even though her superiors sort of believe her story, she is still suspended from duty. Ching’s boss hires a private detective named Charlie Chan to protect her in case of reprisals. In case that isn’t enough of a problem for Ching, she’s worried about her father who’s engaged with a younger woman. Her previous husbands have died mysteriously and Ching suspects that she’s planning the same fate for her father in order to get his money. Can Ching come up with some kind of proof that she has murderous intent on her mind and survive the deadly attacks that the Five Fingers group are constantly launching on her?

Although not Cynthia Khan’s best movie by a long shot, this is still an action packed and humourous outing for her. The movie kicks off spectacularly enough to show us that Cynthia’s character doesn’t take crap from any bad guys. Even though the story revolves around Cynthia’s character, she is very nearly usurped by the sexy Kara Hui Ying-Hung who plays Ching’s father’s fiancee and steals every scene she’s in. The way she sexually teases Ching’s father by dressing up as a maid and giving him a strip tease will be enough to get some viewers hot under the collar! Anthony Wong is brilliant as the goofball detective Charlie Chan who’s ably assistant by his wacky and loud assistant Blackie played by the wonderful Sheila Chan. I can see some people becoming annoyed with her character but I thought she was a lot of fun. They both provide a lot of laughs. There’s plenty of cool action sequences by director Yuen Wo-Ping including an excellent final fight (a part of it is held on a bamboo scaffolding platform) which is well performed and impressive to watch. Cynthia Khan, Anthony Wong and even Kara Hui Ying-Hung are given a chance to show off their martial arts skills in a scrap involving a variety of weapons from poles to swords. The movie does get bogged down in the middle a little bit with too much talking but it’s never far from a skirmish or two to get the quick pace going again.

The story isn’t really worth writing home about but if you manage to tolerate that just to check out the action sequences on show you’ll find this movie enjoyable enough. The comedy is a bit hit and miss – probably more hit than miss. I chuckled several times during the movie. It’s a shame with the great cast that was put together that Madam City Hunter couldn’t have been better but overall it’s not too bad.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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