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The Born Fighter (1966)
"Kenka erejî" (original title)

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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 729 users  
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In Okayama in the mid-1930s, Kiroku attends high school and boards with a Catholic family whose daughter, Michiko, captures his heart. He must, however, hide his ardor and other aspects of ... See full summary »


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Title: The Born Fighter (1966)

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Credited cast:
Hideki Takahashi ...
Kiroku Nanbu
Yûsuke Kawazu ...
Suppon "Turtle"
Junko Asano ...
Takeshi Katô
Isao Tamagawa ...
Kayo Matsuo
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Kensuke Akashi
Iwae Arai
Kôtô Atami
Hiroshi Chiyoda
Hiroshi Chô
Hideo Fukuhara
Jun Hamamura
Yûzô Harumi
Michio Hino


In Okayama in the mid-1930s, Kiroku attends high school and boards with a Catholic family whose daughter, Michiko, captures his heart. He must, however, hide his ardor and other aspects of his emerging sexuality, focusing his energy on a gang he joins, breaking school rules, and getting into scuffles (he tells her, "Oh, Michiko, I don't masturbate, I fight"). He comes under the influence of a young tough nicknamed Terrapin, and together they lead fights against rival gangs. Gradually, Kiroku and Terrapin align themselves with the right-wing Kita Ikki, and Kiroku becomes a stand-in for the attitudes of Japanese youth who embraced the imperialism leading to World War II. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Action | Comedy | Drama


Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

9 November 1966 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Fighting Elegy  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Referenced in 100 Years of Japanese Cinema (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

The Wong Jing of Japan Strikes Again
13 June 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It has become clear that Seijun Suzuki is the Wong Jing of Japan, sporting an equally lame sense of "humor" that consists of hysterical behavior and incessant screaming within poorly constructed, thoughtless scenarios. It's no wonder this idiot got canned by Nikkatsu and subsequently blacklisted after his lame crapfest "Branded to Kill" (1967), which showcased ineptly constructed shootouts, gratuitous sexual content, lots of bad acting, and a preposterous ending with some dimwit acting hysterical in a boxing ring. If a director of mine dropped that pile of elephant compost on my desk, I'd fire his ass too.

As a viewer, I was unlucky enough to experience Suzuki's "Pistol Opera" (2001) first, which still holds the dubious record for "Worst Movie Ever Made" in my book. With "Princess Raccoon" (2005), however, Suzuki proved that his abject stupidity could yield a flawed, yet moderately entertaining film, but my patience is running thin. I've got lots of Asian movies to watch, and I don't like wasting my time with directors who have a 33% success ratio. "Fighting Elegy" (1966) just made it 25%.

At no point is this movie remotely funny or engaging. It uses the "40-year-old acting like a juvenile child" gag that – in and of itself – is utterly lame and it just grates on the nerves from the very first minute. Characters have zero complexity and the fight scenes are a disgrace in their artificiality and persistent use of biting, nosepicking, and people falling over each other. None of the fights look real and seem to be the victim of incompetent directing as the baddies look as if their swatting flies the entire time. The camera-work uses amateur ploys like random closeups and rapid editing for no apparently good reason. These tactics are sure fire points of condemnation when presented in modern day films, but somehow magically become "brilliant" and "masterful" when presented in a Japanese film released before 1970. Go figure.

Don't misunderstand me, because I really do like pre-1970 Japanese cinema. Seriously, I do. For example, of the 17 Yasujiro Ozu films I've had the pleasure of seeing, 4 were excellent, 5 were very good, 6 were good, and 2 were mediocre. That's an 88% success ratio, which means that I froth at the mouth to watch more of his films. However, the difference between a great director like Ozu and low-talent assclowns like Seijun Suzuki and Akira Kurosawa is that Ozu is capable of directing actors properly and understands that quaint realism can supersede thoughtless hysterical behavior and/or melodramatic fluff.

On a side note, I fired up a few of Suzuki's interviews that were included as special features on the DVD releases. It's uncomfortable hearing him pat himself on the back while gloating about the fact that he focuses on entertainment value first and foremost. The problem is that Suzuki's idea of "entertainment" results in contrived silliness mixed with uninteresting, undeveloped content. I fear that the only reason "Princess Raccoon" worked as an entertainment vehicle was because it had an implicitly interesting premise and was structured within a self-referential fantasy world where contrivance felt natural. Perhaps Suzuki should make another stage-play style musical, because his attempts at real life humor are abysmal and shallow at best.

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