Trailerama: Kurôzu zero II/Crows Zero II

Since Variety pulled the plug on Grady Hendrix‘s superlative Kaiju Shakedown blog, what’s a poor Asian cinema fan to do? True, there’s Twitch, but we don’t want to overdose on the stuff, just have a little taste. Fans can do worse than read Peter Martin’s Asian Cinema Scene on Cinematical, which posts every Monday. It is he who draws our attention to this week’s Takashi Miike film, Kurôzu zero II/Crows Zero II.

You say that Kurôzu zero/Crows: Episode 0 never turned up at your local Chinatown DVD mart? Here’s a refresher. Shun Oguri goes to the toughest high school in town to prove himself to his yakuza boss dad, and enrolls in Bareknuckled Beat-down 101. The school’s pre-eminent ass-kicker, Takayuki Yamada, decides maybe Oguri needs some help with his homework. Cue loadsa bone-crunching with a faint whiff of Miike’s usual irony. The 2007 film was based on a best-selling manga by Hiroshi Takahashi, creator of the all-male Worst, and became Miike’s biggest hit to date, grossing ¥2.5 billion.

With the “prequel” out of the way, the second installment serves up more of the tongue-through-cheek same. Oguri has united the gangs of Suzuran High under his leadership, and now the punkish student body have to face Kosen High School. Led by newcomer Nobuaki Kaneko, the preppie brawlers have knuckles to grind against a Suzuran kid, Shinnosuke Abe. Oguri also gets a chance to show his sensitive side by romancing punk singer Meisa Kuroki.

In short, we seem to have a Pretty Boys Fighting genre on our hands, with Never Back Down and, er, Fighting at the American vanguard. The Japanese version has its share of good-looking guys getting busy. They have the Stanley Kubrick heavy-browed stare, orchestrate their rumbles as if they’ve watched Braveheart too many times, and tend to keep their shirts on. Miike seems particularly interested in stylized conflict. The Kosens have shaven heads and wear white uniforms. The punks of Suzuran wear black with their own modifications. When they clash, it’s a monochrome riot.

Crows Zero II opened in Japan on April 11. It is photographed by Nobuyasu Kita, who also lensed the recent Jackie Chan immigrant actioner San suk si gin/Shinjuku Incident. The film is edited by Shuichi Kakesu and Tomoki Nagasaka, who previously collaborated on the first Crows film.

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