Japan 2009 Director: Takashi Miike Production: Mataichiro Yamamoto Script: Hiroshi Takahashi Cinematography: Nobuyasu Kita Editing: Shuichi Kakesu, Tomoki Nagasaka Music: Naoki Otsubo Cast: Nobuaki Kaneko, Haruma Miura, Shun Oguri, Kyosuke Yabe
Miike’s Testosteronefest CROWS continues: the second part ties with minimum seam directly to the predecessor and all it needs is a new conflict. While Suzuran High agreed upon an armistice with the rivals, a Suzuran student who had stabbed the leader of Housen Gakuen two years ago is released from prison and immediately hunted down by the Housen gang who swore revenge. The student looks for refuge with Serizawa, and when Genji – now ruler over Suzuran – shows up he somewhat profoundly messes things up, the armistice is terminated and the fighting begins again.
Against the now powerful Housen troops Suzuran High seems powerless: Genji has failed to unite all Suzuran splinter cells. Everyone has his own goal and the various ringleaders are not particularly interested in following Genji into another battle. While Housen Gakuen prepares for the attack, Genji tries to assemble a useful troop. Will he succeed against Housen and their new leaders as well as against plots of his own camp?
CROWS ZERO 2 offers more of the same fare, and that again very skillfully. Rarely ever have two films been so homogeneous, from production, direction up to the entertainment factor. Part 2 is somewhat less exaggerated, with less cartoonish moments. Instead, CROWS ZERO 2 is dead serious and once started the fighting simply doesn’t want to end: 70% of the film are contributed to beating up everything and everyone in the way. In addition, the film features some very good dialogue which helps maintaining the right balance between action and drama. Especially outstanding though is the sheer coolness that Miike injects into the film, transporting us back into the era of Japanese Juvenile Delinquency films: between two lines of dialogue there’s always time to light a cigarette and, facing defeat, displaying some cocky recklessness. If you don’t take this too seriously, you can certainly have a lot of fun with this kind of machismo attitude.
CROWS ZERO 2 may not reinvent the wheel, neither does it have particularly much substance, but Miike once again has mixed an impressive cocktail that tastes very, very irreverent. Miike reanimates the “good old times” in which men were still “real men” and their only purpose of being was to fight, to smoke and to drink. Those who can see past that attitude and look at the film as a piece of Japanese popular culture will find CROWS ZERO 2 immensely entertaining. Those however who rather like things being politically correct should look elsewhere – but before doing so at least get the soundtrack of CROWS ZERO 2. The music alone is worth half the ticket price. No shit.