The DA’s Directors Spotlight: Crows Zero

The DA’s Directors Spotlight: Crows Zero

At The Devil’s Advocates we like to give different movie genres, directors and actors a chance in the spotlight for a month. It’s a way to look at movies that you might have missed or never knew about. We take a look through their careers and review their movies. For July it gives us great pleasure to spotlight the great Takashi Miike. The first review was for Crows Zero.

Welcome to Suzuran High School, the “School Of Crows”. It’s the toughest school in Japan. It’s a high school where junior gangsters beat each other up for bragging rights every day. The different classes and grades all have their factions, personalities and leaders. All hate each other and are constantly at each other’s throats. Today is the first day of school. The new kid in town has a lot to prove. His name is Genji. He’s a first year freshman. Genji is fresh meat for the gangs already at Suzuran. His father was a Yakuza gangster who never made it to the top of Suzuran. Genji’s not his father, though. Genji makes it his mission to take over the school and make it at Suzuran as “the king of the hill”.

Crows Zero or Crows Episode Zero is a 2007 movie directed by the great Takashi Miike (13 Assassins). Miike is a Japanese director known in the States for some of his more bizarre and disgusting horror movies (Audition, Ichi The Killer) than anything else.  This time he directs a gangster movie set in a high school. But, since this is a Miike movie it’s filled with unique quirks and visual touches that make it stand out from your regular tough guy movies. It’s a brutal movie with some of the hardest hitting fight scenes I’ve seen. These kids look like they’ve been put through hell in almost every scene they’re in. But, the fights are done with a flair that Western directors can’t quite seem to grasp (I’m looking at you, Stallone, Mr. Expendables.). There’s also a lot of emotion in this movie which took me by surprise. You don’t usually see gangsters crying in American movies.

The cast lead by Shun Oguri as Genji does a great job and Miike does great work here. He does an excellent job of keeping everything flowing and moving. There’s a lot going on in this movie from the first scene to the last. Miike keeps it all together nicely and even though the movie has many plot twists and is in Japanese, I didn’t have a hard time following the story or the fight scenes. Which I usually can’t say about American movies with lots of action, fight scenes and the English language. This movie is also very tame compared to most of what Miike has done. Nobody gets decapitated or maimed in Crows Zero. No men or women get raped or tortured in this movie. With Takashi Miike, that’s like a Tarantino movie without curses.

I’m taking half a Pitchfork away from this movie because it ends in one hell of a cliffhanger and the melodrama gets a bit silly near the end. I still recommend this movie for fans of Miike and Japanese films. I’ve had this movie since last year and I’m glad I finally got around to seeing it. Worth tracking down as it’s only on import dvd in the States for now.

3 1/2 Pitchforks out of 5


Find more reviews at The Devil’s Advocates Movie Reviews:


Comments are closed.