this to make any sense at all, you really do need to have seen
Crows Zero; there
are no introductions here, nor a recap. A sufficient amount of
time has passed—it doesn't quite pick up exactly where we
left off; marketing lies again—for us to know that Genji,
despite defeating Seriwaza, isn't respected as a leader. Suzuran
is therefore in disarray, so when an uneasy truce with rival gang
Hosen is inadvertently ruined by Genji, the group is at real threat.
It's not often that I will find myself bored during a Takashi
Miike film, yet Crows Zero II manages to achieve
it. Now, I was not naive enough to expect any real character development
or, hell, even much of a story; Crows Zero -
which I enjoyed - is no human drama, after all. What I was looking
forward to was a relentless edit of fight scene after fight scene.
And sure, they're there. What drags attention away is an overly
long middle section; a good 20 minutes could, and should, have
been shorn off here, its directionless such that some subplot
is forgotten about, almost taking me by surprise when reappearing.
As such, a good portion of the film will be spent lamenting what
feels like pointlessness.
But as we enter the final act, Miike reels us back in. Genji gives
a speech to Suzuran, rallying the group for what will be the biggest
showdown of their lives, and for this, the tension is palpable.
This leads to a 30-minute battle that'll have you on the edge
of your seat, a payoff that's more than worth the wait. One of
my favourite things about Miike is his tendency to direct fight
scenes with an element of naturalness; characters stumble, not
wrapped in showcase choreography. Obviously there is stylisation
here but the split is spot on; it's utterly exhilarating. It doesn't
justify the film as a whole, the overall editing really quite
shameful in terms of balance, with the strongest characters—in
particular Serizawa, surely the most intriguing of the first—relegated
to minor supporting roles. A little more consideration of this,
and a very good film could have been had.
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