Young girl Kei Tsuchiya(played by Rina Takeda)is a very talented karate pupil, trained by her sensei Yoshiaki Matsumura(played by Tatsuya Naka). But Kei Tsuchiya is very arrogant and spends ... Read allYoung girl Kei Tsuchiya(played by Rina Takeda)is a very talented karate pupil, trained by her sensei Yoshiaki Matsumura(played by Tatsuya Naka). But Kei Tsuchiya is very arrogant and spends her time degrading various other karate students in different karate challenges. One day s... Read allYoung girl Kei Tsuchiya(played by Rina Takeda)is a very talented karate pupil, trained by her sensei Yoshiaki Matsumura(played by Tatsuya Naka). But Kei Tsuchiya is very arrogant and spends her time degrading various other karate students in different karate challenges. One day she is approached by a mysterious organisation called The Destroyers, that wants to recruit... Read all
- (as Mayu Gamô)
There are a number of positives to this film. First of all, there is a ton of fighting here. I didn't actually time the length of the action sequences, but it felt like they occupied more than half of the total running time. This is a good thing. Secondly, the martial arts choreography is 100% realistic. Not one move required the use of wires, and most of the actors gave an impressive exhibition. Thirdly, the lead actress has an intimidating, arrogant persona and it's fun watching her taunt and humiliate her opponents. Fourthly, there are a handful of cute schoolgirl baddies that the protagonist battles with. Fifthly, the camera-work uses a lot of wide shots so that the viewer can see everything clearly. There are also some fairly long sequences without cuts or editing gimmicks.
Unfortunately, there are a number of negatives to this film as well. The biggest problem is the rampant, undisciplined use of slow motion replays. The viewer is shown a strike at regular speed, followed by a replay of that same strike in slow motion. At first this was useful because some karate strikes are somewhat deceptive and fast, but as the film went on the slow motion just killed the fluidity of the action all together for two reasons. First, slow motion replays were shown for very basic strikes (e.g., a straight kick to the gut), which is worthless. Second, the final confrontation uses sequences that are first shown in slow motion, then replayed in SUPER slow motion. This was a major miscalculation on the part of the filmmakers because the scene just drags and drags into mind-numbing boredom. It felt like they were just padding the running time to break 80 minutes. Not good.
Another problem is Rina Takeda's inexplicable turn from intimidating buttkicker to worthless wimp during the middle section. She pummels a whole school of big dudes at the beginning of the film, then goes into a shell and plays victim/hostage for most of the second half. In addition, she was fairly inactive during the finale and only took down one baddie in a not-so-awesome fight. (Tatsuya Naka takes over from there and looks impressive though.) One other thing that bothered me was that this film introduces a really cool, acrobatic schoolgirl villain near the midpoint, only to then completely forget about her for the rest of the movie. This was another terrible decision by the filmmakers that made the final fight even more disappointing because the viewer will automatically expect a throwdown between Takeda and the antagonist schoolgirl. It never happens.
I disagree with anyone who claims that "High Kick Girl" is better than either one of JeeJa Yanin's films ("Chocolate" and "Raging Phoenix"). Yes, Takeda was very impressive and is a talent to look out for if she decides to do more movies, but I suspect that martial arts "purity" will be the only true reason for someone to prefer "High Kick Girl." There's more to action movies than "purity" though, and JeeJa Yanin's flicks have finale's that blow "High Kick Girl" out of the water irregardless of whether or not wires are used. In addition, the storyline to "High Kick Girl" is just as limp (if not more so) than JeeJa's movies, so there's no advantage there either. I guess the reader will just have to watch them all and make up their own mind.
I would still recommend "High Kick Girl" despite its flaws. There's more than enough fun to make it worthwhile.
- May 11, 2010