|Index||7 reviews in total|
THE CROWS are BACK....
And this time they have a common enemy , a rival school plotting to bring them down.
Genji has to bring all gangs of suzuran together, only then he will be truly respected as a leader.
Its great to see the character of Genji mature as he realises beating everyone up alone doesn't make you a leader.
All old characters from the first movie are back , and a bunch of new ones too forming the rival gang.
Action is great.....style is cool....and background music is just perfect.
A good sequel. A great ride. Fans of the first part wont be disappointed looking forward to CROWS ZERO 3 , if it ever happens.
Takeshi Miike returns to helm the second installment of Crows Zero,
which is arguably amongst his more mainstream work, based upon the
manga by Hiroshi Takahashi. Bringing back almost all the major cast
from the first film, one should expect more of the same story of high
school violence given the thuggish micro-society amongst the academic
community, where it's sans teachers and books, replaced by life's
experience though the school of hard knocks (at times literally),
coupled with the opening of old wounds and settling them through some
good 'ol fisticuffs.
This sequel essentially picked up from where we last left off from the first film, with a prologue that went back some 2 years to set up the introduction of the rival thugs in Hosen Academy, where their leader got gutted by Sho Kawanishi (Shinnosuke Abe) in a cowardly manner against the rules where a weapon was used. Upon Sho's release, he's hunted down by Hosen members, where his flight from punishment landed him onto Suzuran's turf. Given a truce between the two schools, it got quickly broken by a standoff, caused by de-facto current leader Genji Takaya (Shun Oguri). So begins the reason for more action, broken bones and bruised egos in whack-fest sequences.
For those who have not seen the first film, it's not really necessary as you'll be quickly primed into the scheme of things, though those who had will undoubtedly enjoy some more detailed insights as to who the characters are, and their respective motivations. For starters at least, one would have expected Genji to have united Suzuran under his banner, but the truth is far from it. As with most aspects of leadership, respect is earned, not a given, even though you've defeated the biggest bad-ass in school, Tamao Serizawa (Takayuki Yamada). Suzuran is still very fragmented amongst its various levels and cliques, and made worse because of the perceived ineptness of Genji to lead them.
In classic united we stand, divided we fall scenario, Hosen students, in their skin-head motif, bring about some fearful raw energy as they wage war against their rivals. Leading the pack are Taiga (Nobuaki Kaneko) who sports a mean-looking goatee (which for an Arsenal fan like myself, I can't help but to associate his resemblance to Robert Pires), and a Michael Jackson- like character in Ryo (Gou Ayano), with pasty white skin, soft spoken demeanour and an aversion to sunlight (hence the umbrella), but packs quite the wallop when allowed to do his own thing in unleashing mayhem against his opponents.
The fight scenes replicated what has been experienced in the first film, and I suppose even those who are new to this may find it a little repetitive at times although the fights are more realistically designed sans impossible leaps and superhuman powers, save for some unbelievable endurance of the combatants. In the finale battle for instance, which lasted some more than 20 minutes of screen time, brought out an interesting, battle-to-the-top scenario as attacks come wave after wave, which is kinda smart as it gave the various characters ample opportunity to show off their moves and abilities to hold their own ground. Miike, for all his morbidity infused in various genre films in his filmography, again chose not to include unnecessary blood and gore,
Fans of Meisa Kuroki (like *ahem*, myself) may take some delight in having the idol appear in all but 3 different scenes, 2 of which are spent consoling Genji, and one performing on stage at the pub (like what she did in the first film), though this time round it's a rather tame and shortened version of Bad Girl (those of you who have seen that music video, will know what I mean). But hey, at least Miike brought her back, so no complaints I guess. The soundtrack is again amply peppered with pop-rock music, and the main theme just accentuates perfectly the proud swagger each time the characters band together to battle. You can't help but feel that it's arse-kicking time, each time the theme comes on, cliché as this technique may be in inducing you to swell with pride as if you too are wearing a Suzuran badge.
Crows Zero II may seem like a rehash of the first film, but under different circumstances. The key subplot here involved Sho's attempt to reintegrate back into the society he knows, which is very similar to ex-convicts seeking a second chance at forgiveness after a major wrong. Other than that, there's very little emoting by the characters, or what passed as emoting in Genji's moping of why he's still pretty much the loner despite being Suzuran's top dog, and Serizawa being very much a shadow of his first film self, waiting menacingly in the wings in threatening take over looks, but very much more like the fallen hero awaiting an opportunity for a comeback. I guess fame and power doesn't account for anything especially when you belong to the same house. While the first film was essentially an ego trip for the protagonists in gaining and holding onto turf and reputation, this one rang home the importance of banding together and putting aside differences and ego for the greater good and survivability.
Thankfully the action sequences get interspersed throughout, which naturally is the draw of the film. It's surprising too that for all the simplicity in its storyline, it still managed to extend itself to more than two hours, which flew by especially when you're having fun as observers to major fights.
The first "Crows Zero" mainly revolved around Genji Takiya building a
reputation and most of the characters are pretty much developed for
these types of flicks. And the GPS gang is now the most dominant gang
in Suzuran high school. So where does the film goes from there. Well
now instead of having rival gangs inside the same school they are now
fighting against another school called Hosen Academy. Because they have
a past beef they want to settle with each other. It does have some
subplots that doesn't really have anything to do with the core story.
But it's passable but pointless and doesn't add much to the movie
besides the running time. So the core story is about how Genji Takiya
starts up the fire between the two schools by breaking the
non-aggression pact. And most of the movie is basically about Hosen
Academy attacking Suzuran high school members to antagonize them and
Genji trying to build up a bigger army. If it's GPS or not regardless
in order to beat Hosen Academy. There are some character that are just
not all that relevant. Especially Meisa Kuroki who doesn't add anything
at all to this movie but basically the almost the only female character
in this flick. Some of the lines in "Crows Zero" is just cliché tough
guy lines but this one takes it to a whole another level. I was like
"C'mon don't go there" but it does and it can come off very predictable
and lame. Even for a movie based on a manga. The fights are
entertaining to watch for a while but it starts to lose it's value
after a while. And there is a lot of fight scenes in this movie but
becomes a bit dull after a while, maybe because the only fighting style
in this is brawling. The final fight this time around is bigger with
just about all the main characters showing off there fighting skills
but nothing all that memorable. Overall this is a decent sequel that is
worth a watch if your one of the audiences that enjoyed the first
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Genji now number one in Suzuran accidentally breaks the peace between
Suzuran's gangs and Housen a rival school. Genji must unite everyone if
he is to remain in his current position and go down in the books as a
Again, this film has tons of plot holes, character's that go unexplored and some that are given little screen time until the final moments of the film. But, lets take it for what it is...a brilliant fight film. Yes, the fight scenes are repetitive...the same punch...the same kick, the absence of blocking a punch! (I guess they've become hardened after fighting for so long)
Anyway...the fight scenes are still fun to watch...though some tend to go on a little longer than I would have liked.
A deadly yakuza's mother's son goes undercover at a high school in an
attempt to stop a terrorist organization. The lead actor has the
charisma, and time is spent developing some of the characters. The
action is few and far between, but suddenly the pace explodes as the
viewer is treated to a laudably creative schoolboy duel to the death. A
showdown between schoolboy and half a dozen heavily armed madmen
quickly follows. The score (especially the theme song) is excellent.
Finally a schoolboy fight movie worth watching.
To elaborate on my summary paragraph above, let's do a quick contrast between Crows Zero II with the much touted and highly overrated Hollywood epic 300. While they are two very different films in terms of storyline and setting, they are both firmly fixed within the encompassing genre of Action.
That said, the action in Crows Zero II is far superior to anything seen in 300 in terms of choreography. I never knew there were so many ways to use a steel baseball bat to capacitate an enemy straight shots, arm wraps, floor bounces, object manipulation, etc. 300 showed us nothing we haven't seen before in terms of choreography, because it focused (too much) on photographic tricks rather than on weapon movements, which makes the experience tiring and repetitive. Such repetition can be avoided in two fundamental ways: exceptional diversity of choreography (e.g., Tom Yum Goong) and situational excellence (e.g., Driving Miss Daisy). 300 has neither, but Crows Zero II uses the latter, because the first 75 minutes are used to set up the 15 minute finale.
Now, there's nothing particularly groundbreaking in terms of the general storyline or dramatic elements, but they do provide a series of effective anti-climaxes that taunt the viewer into doubting the existence of a grand finale. This is a good technique because when the showdown between the two schoolboys finally makes its appearance, the excitement and intensity is enhanced due to the character interaction that preceded it. This makes for interesting comparisons to 300, which has almost no intensity whatsoever since antagonists are introduced mere seconds prior to getting slaughtered which explains why critics get bored DURING the battle scenes in 300. A major "no no" for an action film.
It took me two viewings to come to these conclusions, because Crows Zero II provides a different type of action experience that may leave the viewer in a bit of shock after an initial viewing. The opening hour may seem weak at first, but is much better following a repeated watch because the viewer now aware of the grand finale can appreciate the build-up even more so. This is good stuff! I now wish to respond to some IMDb comments that I find grossly inaccurate. Jmaruyama points out some obvious references to American films (i.e., 007 opening credits, Silence of the Lambs restraining mask, etc.). However, this commenter makes a major mistake in claiming that the showdown "seems like a copy of the Bride's showdown with Go-Go Yubari in Kill Bill Vol. 1." Um, huh? The fight in Kill Bill involved a sword and a meteor hammer while the fight in Crows Zero II involved a mighty Spartan battle axe. How on God's green earth are these duel's even REMOTELY similar? The only possible similarity is that a barbarian battle axe and a meteor hammer are marginally alike in structure a blunt object at the end of a staff or rod which means that the characters must swing or sling them in vaguely similar ways. Other than that, there is absolutely NOTHING comparable between the two scenes, so the claim that Crows Zero II copied from Kill Bill is unwarranted. And considering how this film is a spin-off of other Crows Zero movies made in the 1990s makes the assertion even more ludicrous.
Oobleckboy criticizes the action unsuccessfully by pointing out that the scenes are "too infrequent", but he doesn't seem to understand the concept of build-up and intensity detailed above, which more than adequately explains the infrequency of the action as a positive element. He complains that the schoolboys are too "thin and soft", apparently expecting some butch, 200-pound lady body-builders instead. Let me go out on a limb and say that such casting would have been a really bad idea. He then claims that the editing was "quick and choppy", but he provides no specifics as to what he's referring to. I never found the editing to be overtly choppy because the timing of the cuts were all logical in that they enhanced the action. I suppose that Oobleckboy expects Japanese actors to be able to kill someone with a lance at 30 yards or throw a Spartan's spear perfectly that it barely grazes the other actor's cheek. For the rest of us who live in the real world, such cuts are expected.
Make no mistake about it. Crows Zero II requires a suspension of belief, but that's one of the reasons it's such a fun experience - another being the outrageous, over-the-top, and frequently cheesy premise. You may need to exercise a bit of patience for the first hour because the action is laid on thick and heavy at the very end, but I highly suggest you give this one a shot considering the currently pathetic state of American cinema.
Takshi Miike is without a doubt one of the most productive directors in
the world and one of the most famous personalities in the contemporary
Japanese Cinema along with Takeshi Kitano. But if you produce a lot of
films, the risk is rather elevated that some of them are filler
material and this is also the case for "Crows Zero II". I think that
this movie is only interesting for those who had really enjoyed the
Nevertheless, there are a few strong points in this Takashi Miike movie. As always, the music in this movie is great and introduces us once more into the Japanese alternative rock scene. A couple of bands even perform live in this movie in a cool underground bar. If you are a fan of that kind of music, you should get your Hands on the soundtrack instead of the movie itself. Another positive aspect are the settings and decorations. The gang locations in form of abandoned skyscrapers or schools in desperate Suburbs of big cities are quite original and have some charm by showing us the ugly face of Japan. The dark and dirty streets, underground bars and other obscure locations are very well chosen as well. The clothes of the different gangs are all very distinctive, too. Some actors also stand out with their very own style: we have the weird guy with a big scar in form of a cross on his cheek that has ugly teeth, we have a cool blond haired young Gangster and a brutal androgynous guy who looks harmless and is rather silent but turns out to be a brutal maniac.
As you can see, this movie has quite some potential. The reason why it fails is the story itself. First of all, this movie lacks of a coherent story line and includes too many side stories that are not very interesting and add sometimes even an unnecessary slapstick touch to the movie. It's also quite hard to follow this movie as it's the case for many Takashi Miike movies. There are way too many characters, too many names and too many issues in this film. In addition to that, the director also included a few flashbacks to the first movie. Instead of making the movie clearer, these passages harm the already irregular flow of this sequel. Those who haven't seen the first movie will get mixed up and feel frustrated while those who have seen the first strike might feel bored. That's not a very smart move form the director. Basically, this movie introduces a couple of young gangs that are more or less controlled by Yakuza clans that get involved in quite brutal battles. The first few battles as well as the overlong final one might be interesting but the whole thing quickly gets redundant and turns out to be quite senseless violence without any aesthetics.
There are way better movies by Takashi Miike like the great mafia flick "Family", the surreal masterpiece "Gozu" or the more traditional martial arts film "13 Assassins". "Crows Zero II" is one of those unnecessary sequels that only a couple of die hard fans might appreciate and it is among Takashi Miikes weaker works because there is not enough content and originality in here but too many characters and a whole lot of senseless violence.
I suppose if you like this kind of stylized violence high school
gangster drama it would be a good movie, but that is not the qualities
I look for in a Miike film.
To each his own, but I've always thought the high school gangster drama films from Japan ( there are many ) were kind of a joke. If you like them, I'm sure you would enjoy this movie. If you don't - AVOID AT ALL COSTS.
I sure hope Miike can get some more interesting scripts in the future. Wading through so many B-movies can be tiring, but it is worth it when you come across a masterpiece. Of which Miike has many.
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