Archive for November 4th, 2012

Starting out sometime during the 1990’s during a hotly anticipated match between boxing champion Tamai Kazuyoshi and wrestling champion Takeshi Hamada, the story goes back in time to 1970’s Osaka where the seeds of their rivalry began. Back then Kazuyoshi was the champion of Naniwa West High School and he took everybody on without ever being defeated in between working with his best friend Toshio at a rat infested restaurant. Then he hears of a new kid from another high school who is also good with his fists and a fight between the two is inevitable…….that is until Hamada makes the mistake of taking on a 14 year old karate teacher and has his arse whupped big time! Humiliated by the experience, Hamada gives up fighting and asks his conqueror to be his teacher. Kazuyoshi tries to taunt him to fight but he refuses. Other punks come and go to annoy Kazuyoshi but who he really wants to fight is Hamada and then the day comes when Hamada fresh from his training challenges Kazuyoshi. Excitement mounts amongst the pupils of both schools but who will win the fight?

Similar in style to the Young Thugs movies, this story by Takashi Miike is yet another that takes us back to Osaka in the 70’s. A time that Miike obviously loved so much as this is him getting all sentimental about his youth. From the summary above you’re probably thinking that this is just a story that builds up to a climatic fight between the Kazuyoshi and Hamada at the end but you’d be wrong about that. The two never clash onscreen at all. It’s true that there are plenty of violent and bloody fights in the movie but the fighting is not what is driving the story forward at all. It’s more about friendship forged during hardship, growing up in a rough neighbourhood, finding oneself and capturing the energy of youth. It’s how all of these factors shape the characters we meet in this movie and how they turn out in the future. This isn’t one of Miike’s well known stories but that’s not to say it should be ignored. It’s got drama, violence, humour and tragedy wrapped up neatly together in a fantastic tale. I found this movie to be a lot of fun. The comedy in this movie is hilarious and provide plenty of laughs along with the drama. There’s a love triangle aspect to the story between Kazuyoshi, Toshio and their childhood friend Ritsuko. She likes Kazuyoshi but he’s only interesting in fighting whilst Toshio wants to be more than friends with her. The boys also don’t have a proper family as such and rely on their own instinct to survive. Toshio’s father is the local weirdo who pushes a cart on the streets and gives out toy windmills out to people. Toshio is rather embarassed about his father’s mental illness whilst Kazuyoshi stays with his batty grandmother (who’s one of the best characters in the movie). Even Ritsuko and Hamada are having problems with their families so the 4 of them share more in common than they think. For myself even though I liked the drama part of the story, it was the superb humour that made this such an enjoyable movie from the comedy of errors that made Kazuyoshi and Hamada miss each other in their first attempt at having a fight, the secret ingredient that goes into a bowl of ramen at a restaurant to the massive melee that occurs at the end of the movie with everybody laughing as they’re punching each other’s lights out!!

Even though the movie was shot on a low budget as it was a straight to video release, Miike directs it with his usual panache we’ve come to expect. You could argue that it’s perhaps a little rough around the edges but I thought it was really well done. The acting by the cast is brilliant and Miike himself even cameos as a person who’s stabbed in the chest.

The Way To Fight is another Miike gem that fans of his movies should try and check out. Recommended.

No trailer I’m afraid.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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