I saw Crows Zero at the Sydney Film Festival 2008. I was quite excited because I’ve been wanting to see that movie for months! Not because the director of the movie is the Takashi Miike, famous for his controversial movie Ichii the Killer (haven’t seen the movie yet.. heard its way gory) or because I’m a big fan of the manga/comic “Crows” by Hiroshi Takahashi (to which the movie is based).
The real reason why I wanted to see the movie was rather shallow: cute (i mean HOT!) boy actor Oguri Shun. Honestly, I didn’t particularly care if the movie would be crap or unexpectedly brilliant. I saw the trailer on youtube and had no idea what the movie would be, except that there will be an incredible amount of fight scenes. So I paid my SFF2008 ticket and was determined that I would be happy enough to see Oguri Shun fighting in the big screen.
And what did I get in return?
A really really cool movie with bad-ass characters, incredible fight scenes, just enough humor packaged in a simple storyline.
The movie tells the story of Genji Takaya (Oguri Shun), the son of a Yakuza boss with an ambitious dream. Takaya’s dream is to be the first student ever to conquer and unify the notorious Suzuran High School, a high school filled with punks, rebels and crazy students.
To achieve his dream, Takaya must build his own army by defeating the leader of each gangs and classes to ultimately bring down the current strongest person in the school, Tamao Serizawa (Yamada Takayuki) and his gang.
The movie then follows Takaya, with the aid of Suzuran graduate and ‘B-level’ yakuza member, Ken Katagiri (Kyosuke Yabe), as he conquer the school class by class through small fights, brutal fights and even matchmaking favours. As his army and loyal followers started to grow, so does his reputation. Ultimately leading to a grand and final showdown between his and Serizawa’s army.
What I like most about this movie is how it is able to present so many different characters, without letting the audience forget about which one is which. This, I think, is the very essence and character in every Japanese fiction, be it a manga, anime, movies and tv series.
The main characters gave really exceptional performances. Oguri Shun, who started his career starring in a string of high school themed tv series, stepped it up a notch as the ambitious Genji Takaya. One of my favourite scenes in the movie was a scene featuring a badly beaten-up Genji Takaya trying to stand up and continue fighting. It was as if I could feel the pain of every aching muscles and broken bones in his body!
Yamada Takayuki also gave a surprising and great performance. I first saw him as the shy and dorky otaku (a manga, anime and figurines addict… and I mean ADDICT!) in Densha Otoko (The Train Man). His performance in Crows Zero is such a contrast! In Crows Zero he was strong, violent and daring, albeit slightly lunatic.
The movie also has cool sound and special effects that creates a perception of super-human abilities of the characters. This was shown in various scenes with Serizawa, nicknamed bakemono (monster) for his strength, when he created a massive dent on the side of a car by deliberately crashing his head on it or when he played ‘human-bowling’.
The cinematography is also brilliant, especially during the final showdown where the black wearing high school student set up such a wonderful contrast against the blue-sky background.
I also loved the songs and the original scores used throughout the movie, especially the song “Into the Battlefield” which was used during the beginning of the final showdown.
Despite all the praises that I gave, there were still some elements of the movie that I thought were simply useless. Notably the female character/almost-love interest, whose name I didn’t even bother to remember. The movie would be better off without her.
Overall, I’d give the movie 9 out of 10! And if you enjoy movies such as Kill Bill and Fight Club, you will definitely enjoy this movie. Personally, I think it’s better than Fight Club. Haha..
Move over Brad Pitt! It’s Oguri Shun time.