Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Kick Flicks: High Kick Girl

Japan is a weird, weird country.  I know that I've talked about it before, but it bears repeating.  This leads into today's film: High Kick Girl.  The film was marketed in a very simple way: here's a film with hot chicks in short skirts doing high kicks- you fill in the rest.  It's a simple and silly premise, but those can work if done right.  Here's the thing: this movie is not a comedy.  I know- I was surprised too!  Everything about it is plugged in a comedic way, or at least in a self-referential way.  No, this film is played 100% serious.  I'm totally serious here.  On the plus side, this film is pure action.  On the negative side, there's almost no actual plot.  Will that imbalance ruin the film or help it?  Get out your tartans for my review of...

After some random B-Roll of Japan and assorted camera changes, we get thrown right into a fight scene.  Set-up is for pussies!  One random Japanese guy beats up a bunch of other random Japanese guys.  In a gimmick that will get old fairly quickly, they replay most of the major blows Walker: Texas Ranger-style.  It's cute a couple of times...but it happens about twenty.  After that scene, we are introduced to our heroine.  She is a cute Japanese girl, who is shadowed by a nerdy guy.  He leads her to a group of karate students, whose leader she promptly challenges to a fight.  Her goal: take his black belt.  He laughs at her challenge and prepares, only to let his guard down for a second and get taken out with one kick to the side of the head.  Down goes Tyson, Down goes Tyson!  By the way, the only reference to the side effect of her kicking in those skirts takes place here.  No, really.  As she goes to leave, the others pick a fight with her friend, leading to a long battle.  Replayed move count: 6 or 7.  After she leaves, we are immediately introduced to her karate class, which is led by a man known as Matsumura.  His name is important for later.  After ten minutes (seriously!) of practice and a narration about the importance of karate, we learn that our heroine is trying to join a group of tough guys/gals known as the Enforcers.  Hurray- a plot!

Her initiation to join the group is to fight a group of tough gals dressed like Yo-Yo Girl Cop leads, which she wins.  Afterward, she learns that she is going to be used as bait to lure out Matsumura- a man that his group apparently has a beef with.  Despite running a school under his own name, they couldn't find him until now!  This leads to a pointless fight scene in a lake bed...just because we needed another one.  Finally, we have a fight scene that takes up the final third of this 90-minute film.  This has more fighting and less plot than District B-13!  Matsumura makes short work of the people in his patch, including a woman with a weighted chain, a man with a sword and the random Japanese guy from the opening fight scene.  Replayed Move Count: 12 or 13.  He gets to the main room, only to find our heroine and her friend held hostage.  He surrenders, getting beaten up by a buff girl in workout gear.  Our heroine makes a comeback, leading to the man fighting back as well.  He defeats 'buff girl' and 'girl with stick' before fighting a line of men.  Meanwhile, our heroine takes a pounding from a crazy man (just punching, you perverts!) before taking him out.  Matsumura makes it to the final guy who is...a guy with a gun.  Our heroine saves him at the last minute and is rewarded by...getting bumped back to White Belt in order to earn her Black Belt properly.  Hurray?  Final Replayed Move Count: 25 or so.

This very lopsided.  The story is extremely-minimalist, only serving to connect the fight scenes.  Even then, it's a bit hard to follow or make much sense of.  Why couldn't they find Matsumura again?  Why did our heroine go from being a bad-ass to a background object in the story?  The simple thing is this: the movie is full of fighting..and it's damn good.  If you like movies that are more focused on action than characters, story or acting, this is a must-see.  The downsides?  The actual lead of the film (Matsumura) is a very bland, emotionless guy.  I guess that can work in a Seagal sort of way, but he comes off more like Joel Hodgson.  I'm not sure if this is intentional or not.  Honestly, it feels like they needed a guy who could do all of the actions and didn't worry about his ability to emote.  If that's not the case, I apologize.  In spite of this, I recommend this to any fan of high-kicking and skull-shattering kicks.  There's almost no plot...but it still kind of works.  Just don't go in expecting a comedy.

Next up, I cover a nearly-lost '80s film about giant killer crabs.  Get out your giant, tiny combs men!  Stay tuned...

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