[Everybody loves Miike. With Crows Zero 2 playing at Fantasia, it seems like the right time to pull one of our reviews out of the archives for a second glance. Take it away, Niels!]
Miike returns with a sequel to one of his slickest films ever. The
was a huge box office hit in Japan, making a sequel almost inevitable.
For Crows Zero II Miike takes control again, delivering what must be
his first straight-forward sequel. There is a first time for
everything, and it seems when you're talking about Takashi Miike you
should take that "everything" quite literally.
I enjoyed the first film so didn't really mind this sequel, but
there was another reason for looking forward to watching this. It's the
50th Miike film I've seen, which officially makes me a fan I guess. His
recent output seems to lack a little flair and goofiness (though I
still need to see Yatterman), but nonetheless his films remain
interesting and entertaining, always something to look forward too.
Crows Zero II is no exception.
Miike's first straight-forward sequel is as straight-forward as can
be. There is no time, character or settings trickery to reminds us of
Dead or Alive, only a simple continuation of the Crows story. Not a big
surprise, as this sequel too is based on the Crows Zero manga, but
still a welcome warning for Miike adepts. Don't be tempted to believe
he trampled sequel conventions again. And people expecting a more
surreal or humorous film based on the whole setting are advised to
watch Cromartie High instead.
Oguri crawls back in the skin of Genji, but is faced with bigger
enemies this time around. For starters he breaks a peace treaty with a
neighboring gang, obliviously lighting fire to a dormant gang war.
Besides that Genji is still at war with himself, trying to find peace
with his father and looking for a goal in life. Worst of all, he does a
pretty terrible job at combining the two and in result is struggling
for support from his underlings.
Visually Crows Zero II is still looking incredibly slick. Maybe not
as many landmark shots, but the dense and graffiti-laden backgrounds
make for a tasty looking film alright. The fighting scenes are still a
blast to behold too, with strong, intense and action-driven camera work
and some tight editing to keep the adrenaline flowing. In the end
though, during these two hours you might start missing the more edgy
style of former Miike films. I guess it depends on where your
The soundtrack is still a little disappointing, though luckily not
quite as bad as the first film. Not as many R&B intermezzos (just
one really), and some rather silly but functional J-Rock stuff. Acting
on the other hand is rock solid, especially the key roles portray their
characters with plenty of flair. Oguri is perfect in his role, but the
supporting cast also deserves some credits. It's not high-profile drama
acting, but what they do, they do extremely well.
Crows Zero II is a rather strict sequel, following the exact same
route as its predecessor. It's almost like a film split in half.
Visually nearly identical, same characters and same side stories (the
yakuza line is back again, so is Oguri's father). There's a comedic
interlude about a blossoming romance and Oguri's girlfriend gets a
little screen-time too. All things considered, the sequel is a bit more
fight-oriented, which is probably the biggest difference between both
films. Proof of this can be found in the massive 30-minute brawl
finale, featuring little to no breathers.
Crows Zero II will probably appeal to the people who liked the
first film and can bear a second, almost identical, serving. There's
still plenty of posing, lots of fighting and some drama in between.
It's a little weird seeing Miike do a sequel like this, but he pulls it
off rather well. A bit more entertaining than the first film, but (of
course) a whole lot less original. Though you can wonder how original a
manga adaptation is in the first place. Recommended for fans of the
original, others shouldn't bother at all.
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