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Crows Zero II (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000149416
Added by: Jitendar Canth
Added on: 1/7/2012 17:05
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    Review for Crows Zero II

    8 / 10


    So you're the toughest delinquent in a school full of delinquents. Through the sheer power of your fists you've managed to unify the school, and get all the other tough kids to acknowledge your pugilistic superiority. That was the whole plot of the first Crows Zero movie, the live action prequel to the Crows manga series, brought to vivid, blood spattered life by prolific cult director Takashi Miike. I reviewed that first feature a few months ago, and found it to be a surprisingly entertaining, and rounded story, if prone to a little over-egging and diversion. The question is where do you go from there? What next for the top dog in Suzuran High School? Fortunately for our viewing pleasure, Suzuran isn't the only school full of delinquents in town. This time it will be a war between two schools!

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    Genji Takiya thought that he could unify Suzuran High School through sheer power of his fists, and at the end of the last film, it looked as if he managed just that. But this victory feels a little hollow to him, and instead of actually using his newly earned power, he instead spends his time trying futilely to beat the toughest kid in school, Rinda-man, and he's rapidly losing the respect of the other gangs in the school as a result. It's when Noboru Kawanishi is released from prison that things begin to change. Two years previously, he was leader of Suzuran, and he led them in a fight against rival school Hosen. That battle ended in a fatality that left Noboru in prison, and a whole heap of bad blood between the schools. Rather than spill the blood, there's been a truce since then. But with the release of Noboru, the students of Hosen know that revenge is at hand. They pursue Noboru straight to Suzuran territory, where a tense stand-off ensues. It remains so until Genji blunders in, and shatters the peace. Now Suzuran and Hosen are at war again, and Serizawa tells Genji to get his act together to lead the school in the forthcoming battle. The trouble is as Genji learns, that you may be able to unify the school gangs with your fists, but you can't unite them that way, and you sure as hell can't lead them that way. With Suzuran more divided than ever, they are easy pickings for Hosen.

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    Crows Zero II gets a 2.35:1 anamorphic NTSC transfer on this UK region 2 disc. Once again, unfortunately it's not a progressive transfer. There is a slight jerkiness to pans and scrolls that takes a few minutes of getting used to. The image itself is clear and sharp, if a little soft, and possessing that slight dullness of palette I've come to expect from some Japanese live action films. Otherwise the image is clear and well defined, and the action sequences, shaky cam notwithstanding, come across with suitable impact. Unlike the first film, Crows Zero II never received an HD release in the US, but it did get a special edition treatment on DVD with 5.1 sound and an extras disc. Good luck seeking it out though, as it's well and truly deleted, and demands three figure prices on Amazon Marketplace, while the US vanilla edition isn't too far behind in price.

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    Audio comes in the simple form of DD 2.0 Stereo Japanese, with optional English subtitles. They default to on, and you'll have to use your remote to switch them off, as there is no explicit menu option. The audio is clear throughout; the action comes across well enough, with Prologic offering a bit of surround. The subtitles are timed accurately, and free of error.


    A static menu and a trailer are all that you get.

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    I love it when this happens. It doesn't happen too often, mind, but Crows Zero II is a sequel that surpasses the original film. It's better in every way, yet manages it without losing what made the first film so enjoyable. Crows Zero II picks up where Crows Zero left off, and continues to tell its pugilistic tale of high school gangs battling for superiority, with effective melodrama, great characters, an interesting if simple story, teeth rattling action sequences, and rock and roll. The two films taken together deliver a knockout one-two punch of entertainment that will leave you winded and exhausted, and in a good way.

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    The first film was about finding out who the top delinquent in Suzuran High School was, and it turned out to be Genji Takiya. This film reveals that it was a hollow victory, and said top dog was left wondering what the whole point of it was. The sequel reveals that he still has some lessons to learn about the differences between strength and power, and he has yet to understand the true meaning of leadership. The sequel does this by introducing new foes, and a new challenge. This time the enemy is Hosen High School, a group of delinquents whose trademark is the baldness of their heads, and who have been nursing a bitter grudge against Suzuran for the last two years.

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    The characters and the cast return from the first film, bolstered by some new faces from Hosen, and the character that sets the conflict in motion, Noboru Kawanishi. The action is just the same, over the top excess that you'll recall from the first film, while the comedy that balances it out is still present. Serizawa is still that weird delinquent who plays nutty sports. In this movie he's fashioned a game of giant darts, while Makkie is still having trouble with premature ejaculation when it comes to wooing the fairer sex. The comedy, action and drama create this over the top, surrealistic synergy that is utterly engaging.

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    Where Crows Zero II improves upon the original is in the storytelling. The first film was a case of too much going on in one film, it had a sight too many plot lines in motion, which left the story unfocused and meandering. That led to a movie climax that was split in four, and which failed to gel together as a whole. While Crows Zero II has its plots ongoing through the film, with the Yakuza storyline once again paralleling the delinquent storyline, it handles it a lot better, tying everything together more neatly. It also has a definite focus in the way that it builds the story to its conclusion, concentrating on what will make the drama more intense, and minimising the distractions and diversions. The final fight when it comes is over half an hour of intense combat, and the attention stays completely on the fight for the duration. There's no intercutting between that and any other plot thread. There's no release of tension until the fight is over, and that is a much better way of doing things.

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    Crows Zero II is much better than the first film, but it stands on that film's shoulders. You'll need it to fully appreciate the sequel. Crows Zero II is well worth watching if you like cult high school delinquent action movies, and while you're at it, you may as well just buy the first as well.

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