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CROWS ZERO (Kurozu Zero) (Japan)

  Publicity Stills of "Crows Zero"
(Courtesy from Encore Films)

In Japanese with English and Chinese Subtitles
Director: Takashi Miike
Cast: Shun Oguri, Kyosuke Yabe, Takayuki Yamada, Shunsuke Daito, Meisa Kuroki, Tsutomu Takahashi, Goro Kishitani
Runtime: 2 hrs 11 mins
Released By: Encore Films & Golden Village
Rating: NC-16
Official Website: http://www.encorefilms.com/crowszero

Opening Day: 20 March 2008


The mega-hit comic, CROWS, about feuding high school tough guys, has sold over 32 million copies in its eight-plus years. This feature length movie version of "CROWS" depicts the never-before-told origins of the story as "Episode Zero".

The Suzuran Senior High School for Boys, nicknamed "The School of Crows", is the poorest achieving, most violent school in the country. The students are called "crows" and they band together in factions, battling each other for influence and power. But they all share a common goal ... one that has never been reached in the school's history: unification. No one faction has ever reigned supreme.

Oguri plays the role of Genji Takiya, a transfer student who attempts to take over Suzuran Boys High School and is mentored by old boy yakuza Katagiri (Kyosuke Yabe) as he faces off against rival Serizawa (Takayuki Yamada).

Movie Review:

What a difference an actor's choice in movies makes to his career. Check out the example of Shun Oguri, Gigolo Wannabe-Hanazawa Rui. I first noticed his performance in GTO, and what a fine impression he made back in 1999 as the botak angry teenager. Take on a few more Gigolo Wannabe roles and I assure you he will be condemned as nothing but a pretty face.

This is where Takashi Miike and Sukiyaki Western Django comes into play. There is nothing like an up-and-coming director and a quirky flick to cement his place as a credible actor. Shun has turned out to be Miike's muse somewhat (banish the gigolo-wannabe thoughts) and was impressive again in Crow's Zero.

For an original script the movie is choppy at places, but the breakneck pacing and many fights to pulsing rock beats more than made up for the scattershot story. Beyond the constant fights, the tough fighters are sensitive and all soft inside, and this accounted for some of the emotional heft this movie carries. All the male actors carried off their roles very well, and this included looking fierce, looking in pain and looking lost. On the other hand, Meisa Kuroki, the nominal female lead, needs to put on only one the last look for the show, and guys can interpet the same look any way they want. Well, at least she gets to sing two songs for the flick and dance around on the stage.

Girls will squeal at the strapping Shin Oguri's Genji Takaya and the boys will be thrilled by the movie's non-stop machismo posturing and testosterone rush, with a few dirty jokes thrown in. The gritty brown cinematography and stylishly vandalized classroom settings are a real treat for dudes looking for a visual spectacle. The action sequences are top-notch and really indebted to Bollywoodish over-dubbing of punches and kicks.

Watch out for the stylish variations of the Japanese high-school uniform look (no less than 17 different looks, and what's with the bird flu mask? I want one too!) - a sartorialist-wannabe would be pleased at the slashing silhouettes and the duck-like waddle that every yakuza-wannabe ah beng should pick up. There is something in this flick for everyone, and it was thoroughly entertaining!

Movie Rating:

(I'm off to find the Crows manga!)

Review by Tyler Lim


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