Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Jmovie review: High Kick Girl

Looks like Chun Li's taichi stance to me..

One of my most anticipated movies since I saw the trailer a year ago. Its got Takeda Rina, a 'karate champion' in a seemingly hard hitting martial arts movie. The only other Japanese martial arts movie I've seen in the last 10 years would be Black Belt, a very disappointing Karate movie starring real life karate practitioners. If Black Belt proved one thing is that having martial arts experts alone does not guarantee a good fighting movie.

Pantsu mieta... wtf she's wearing shorts???

Coincidentally Naka Tatsuya, who was the baddie in Black Belt plays Takeda Rina's master in High Kick Girl. The story like all martial arts movies is pretty straightforward. Takeda Rina's character is a brown belt and likes to hunt black belts in order to get her master to acknowledge her skills and give her a black belt. She unwittingly goes for a test to join a group known as the Destroyers who want to use her to lure her master so they can get their revenge.

I only agreed to get my head kicked in to see Takeda Rina's pantsu and she wears shorts???!!

Sounds simple right? Unsurprisingly, even the Japanese can easily fuck up a simple story. Problem no.1 is the Destroyer group claims that they have been unable to find Matsumura sensei for the last 15 years. If this evil organisation can't even find a sensei who runs a dojo for 15 years, they are the dumbest evil organisation ever. Problem no 2 is that though the movie is called high kick girl, Matsumura sensei is the main hero can gets the long fight scene at the end. Talk about bait and switch.

Pantsu, pant... wait is she wearing shorts?????

Problem no 3 is that you've got this boss baddie who's just been released from prison and and old boss baddie who manages to slap Takeda Rina and they can't even put up a decent fight against the sensei. It is law that martial arts movies must have an exciting final battle where the hero is in grave danger and they can't even do that? Instead the two bosses go down like scrubs. Problem no 4 is that Takeda Rina who can defeat multiple black belts stays down after getting slapped once and doesn't even try to fight the two destroyers who follow her to her sensei and instead acts like a damsel in distress.

Majisuka rock n roll...

Seriously, story is not as important as action. I don't expect this to be Bourne. Ong Bak didn't have a story but it was freaking awesome. High Kick Girl has real martial artists so the fights are gonna be real and brutal right? This is where the ineptitude of the director comes in. The biggest downfall of High Kick Girl is the super overuse of slow mo replay. And its not even slow mo replay of a super stunt move like in Ong Bak. Its the constant slow mo replay of fight sequences.

That's not how you do a hadouken you idiot!

You watch Takeda Rina do a couple of kicks and beats 3 ppl in 10 seconds and then you watch her do it all over again in 20 seconds. Everytime they do a slow replay of an unimpressive fight sequence I just want to fast forward. Maybe it just a lame way to extend the scant 1hr 20 minutes running time. The movie would probably only be an hour with all the slow mo replays taken out.

Say goodbye to your kids!

I understand the intent of slow mo replay is to show that the movies actually connected. What the idiot director didn't realise is that slow mo also exposes many flaws of the choreography. For example, it becomes blatantly obvious when the baddie throws himself instead of being thrown or someone turning their head way way before the pulled punch comes out a kick is bent in order to minimise the impact. Basically its more like watching a stunt fighting practice video rather than a movie. If the director had actually watched Ong Bak or Chocolate, slow mo replay should only be used for outrageous stunt sequence.

Oops, slipped on a banana peel.

The last fight is basically like a kata rehearsal with bad guys waiting in line to be taken out by one move from Matsumura sensei. Zzzzzzz. The best fight in the movie is Takeda Rina vs the cute schoolgirl. That was the only fight that had a story and flow and didn't seem like random moves strewn together.


Huge disappointment. The Koreans did a much superior karate movie Fighter in the wind. The Thai have Ong Bak and Chocolate. The Chinese have 1 thousand martial arts movies and Japan, birthplace of Karate and Akido can't even do a decent fighting movie???!!! Avoid.


Anonymous said...


Thanks for the review. I have this movie but I have not watched it yet. I was going to this weekend, but instead watched Hard Revenge Milly and Hard Revenge Milly: Bloody Battle. I have a feeling you might like these two better.

- D

Anonymous said...

Thx for the review, I've read good comments eleswhere and was going to give it a shot, but now I'll pass.

I practiced Karate and Aikido and for the life of me can't understand why Japan doesn't have any decent action choreographers (esp Aikido where some of the moves are so elegant).

BTW just watched Amalfi. I mean forget about the action scenes, but the script is so naive, and this is supposed to commemorate Fuji TV 50th annerversary. Yes it has A++ list cast, the Italian scenary is gorgeous,
Sarah Brightman appeared on screen to sing 'Time to say goodbye' (if you haven't gotten tired of it yet), but w/o a good script it's just a big waste. No wonder the DVD doesn't have English subs, as it just won't fly in western countries.

Anonymous said...

Rinjo season 2 is coming .. woohoo

Anonymous said...

rinjo 2? I was trying to imagine it but I couldn't see it

then I realized I was trying to imagine gonzo 2

all right, rinjo 2, this could be good

Anonymous said...

Hmm I was going to take issue with your review but given you disliked Kuro Obi I think it says a lot about our polar opposites in terms of tastes and expectations. I'll say this: I have yet to hear a committed martial arts practitioner who disliked Kuro Obi. As for High Kick Girl, it may not pull up any trees in terms of storyline, but I totally disagree with your take on the fights themselves, which I found excellent. I also loved the underlying messages of the ethics and depth of real martial arts from her sensei, as well as the brilliant videos in the extras, which are a treasure trove for keen karatekas. I suppose it's a case of each to their own.... Oss!