Until very recently this one's been hard to find outside of Japan and impossible to find with English subtitles, and it's remained quite obscure as a result. Now that a bootleg version of the Japanese DVD with subtitles has been made available this will change, and it's a good thing, because this is one of Miike's finest. There's little of the violence which some people mistakenly assume is a given in Miike's work, but the director's unique sense of humor and reductionist approach to storytelling are fully intact. It's almost a coming-of-age film, but the same could be said of any of the Dead or Alive films in regard to the yakuza genre, and it still wouldn't be true. Miike cuts everything but the guts of the story from his scripts. This film's most painful moment is not even there just a cut to black. It hurts. Apparently Kishiwada Shonen Gurentai is a series (also known as Boys Be Ambitious, a phrase which will be familiar to anybody who payed close attention to the beginning of Gozu) which several directors have participated in, and Miike has directed another film in the series which or may or may not be adapted from the same novel as this entry.
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