In Japanese with English & Chinese Subtitles
Cast: Yukie Nakama, Kazuya Kamenashi, Katsuhisa Namase, Yuya Takaki, Haruma Miura, Ken Utsui
RunTime: 1 hr 58 mins
Released By: Encore Films & GV
Official Website: http://encorefilms.com/gokusen/
Opening Day: 19 November 2009
is a popular manga series that started running from 2000 to
2007. In 2002, it was adapted into a TV series with great
success and a 2nd season followed in 2005. In 2008, the series
returned for its 3rd and final season and was the best-rated
TV series for the year. This film will conclude the popular
Kumiko Yamaguchi, aka Yankumi, oversees the new students of Class 3D of Akado High School. Her class is full of delinquents, but she tries her hardest to teach them not just about academics (her subject is Mathematics), but about lessons of life. However, she’s also the granddaughter of a Yakuza boss, Kuroda of the Kuroda Ikka, and is seen as the next in line to head the family business.
Her true passion lies in teaching however, and she's forced to lead a double life and keep her family a secret from the public. However, her Yakuza upbringing also happens to give her the strength and the experience to reach out to her students, and at the same time provides many moments of comedic relief.
Even without watching a single episode of the Gokusen television series, the image of the nerdy, specky, gunho female teacher (who is often clad in sports attire) had somehow transcend into the Asian pop culture and become somewhat iconic (to those who keep tab with what’s popular in the Asian region) . Like many of it’s popular television program peers that are making the move from the small screen to the big screen, Gokusen takes the opportunity to cap it’s third (and reportedly final) session with a movie as a grand finale.
The real question here would be (as Homer Simpsons would point out, Is it wise to fork out money for something that you get for free? – Free as in it was originally a free to air program)
Gokusen the movie plays out like the second X File movie. It felt like a two hour episodes of what you would normally get from the TV series. Even the plot devices in this movie could be split into two fold and each of them fit nicely in a one hour episode format. It felt like it’s a routine featurette of what is generally being offered on a tv series episode and finale that it lacks a certain cinematic climax or scope to impress.
What made it worse would be the tired overused genre set up of the determined teacher trying to convert her delinquent students. There the other famous (albeit old) tv series GTO and the recent Crow Zero 2 movie series that dealt with the wondrous (and unorthodox) teacher in a gangster school setting. It’s so numbingly predictable on how the chain of events would turn out that it felt like a snooze fest that going through the motion.
Fans might beg to differ and it’s not hard to see where the appeal of Gokusen lies in. The cutesy gangster teacher with her 'Looney tunes' inspired antics should appeal to a certain demographic of youngster. From breaking down walls, kicking can through a building to various 'Looney tune' jingles / sound effects to cue in the comedic effects; it definitely attempted to appeal itself to those who enjoy Stephen Chow’s type of exaggerated comedy.
However, it depends on each individual perception of the comedic timing and definition of good comedic aura. Personally, the manga type of comedy wasn’t effectively translated on screen. Yukie Nakama’s comedic performance felt a bit forced and there isn’t much material to work on.
Besides that, the other appeal of this series would definitely lies in the numerous good looking guys that populated the class of 3D (and the previous classes). Judging from the female audience’s responds in gasps and shrieks when a certain handsome hunk appears on screen, it’s not hard to see why this series were so popular.
But then again, it depends on personal viewpoint of what makes a good movie and personally, these numerous flashes of good looking past actors that participate in the previous series did nothing to add onto the story. Their appearances might be provide the closure that fans are seeking for but for a first timer who know nothing about their past, it was just an unnecessary padding that drag the screen time.
Gokusen the movie was made strictly for their fans. It’s pretty obvious that those who had intricate knowledge of the series were enjoying immensely with what was being offered on screen. It might even open the world of Gokusen to new fans who enjoyed the gangster teacher’s antics and the hordes of good looking male actors appearance. However those who prefer another brand of humor and substance beyond good looks might find this movie rather bland and uninspiring.
(Strictly for fans of Gokusen the TV series)
Review by Richard Lim Jr