Thursday, February 19, 2009

Crows ZERO [2007]

Director: Takashi Miike
Starring: Shun Oguri, Takayuki Yamada, Kuroki Meisa
Points: 90 out of 100
Rating: Teen (violence, gangsterism)
Comment: "A very, very stylish film with plentiful action and laughs..."

I haven't seen many contemporary films from the Far East, and the ones that I really like coming from the land of the rising sun so far only include classics such as Seven Samurai [1954] and Rashomon [1950]. This film however, is not entirely original. It is actually an adaptation of the Crows manga by Takahashi Hiroshi. It's a shonen manga (click here for definition) , so be prepared for a machismo-fuelled ride.

The story takes place in Suzuran High School, the school of teenage delinquents and it revolves around a male protagonist who goes by the name of Genji, the son of a Yakuza boss. Intent on taking over the family "business", Genji enrolled into this school with the aim of conquering it and prove himself worthy to his father. But things are not as simple as "veni, vidi, vinci..."

To understand what this film is all about, one must first understand the setting. Apparently, this is a school where nobody studies and teachers appear only once every year. Students here are divided into gangs based on what class and what year they are in. I have never read the manga, so I can't really say for sure. But from what I can understand, this is a school for training gangsters. Their curriculum is all about gangsterism and the co-curriculum involves nothing but brawling.

It is all very cool, sure. But personally I think of it as a weak point. It seems like the school setting is purely aesthetics. But then again, schools do symbolise a place for learning the meaning of life, and that is exactly what the characters learned; at least the meaning of their lives.

That brings me to another interesting point to the film; how colourful the characters are. In most of gangster films I've seen, the characters tend to be one-dimensional. The script did the characters justice for they are able to make you laugh, fired-up and maybe even cry.

The strongest appeal to this film, however, is the cinematography. Hats off the production team for making one of the most stylish movies I have ever seen in a long time. No CGI, not much special effects. Just some slick and smooth camerawork.

Points Calculation

The Good [+100]
- Excellent cinematography
- Interesting story
- Tasteful tale of 'honour among friends'

The Bad [-10]
- Illogical at certain times

100 - 10 = 90 points

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