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Be-Bop High School : Elegy (Nasu Hiroyuki 1986)


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Be-Bop High School: Elegy
[Koko Yotaro Aika - Erijii]

Genre: Outrageously Over-The-Top Brawl Comedy

review in one breath

Based on the popular manga of the same name, Be-Bop High School drops you into the middle of brawling rival high school gangs who do little else than chase each other around with knives and baseball bats. Using local yakuza ruffians as their role models, these high school hooligans pound themselves senseless as fawning girls adore them from the sidelines. Not much plot here; Just a WHOLE LOTTA fighting!


intro

The Be-Bop manga has been around for a very long time and still appears in regular manga publications aimed at junior high and high school kids. There have been six live-action films based on the series of which this is the second. All six films were directed by Nasu Hiroyuki.

Though likely unbeknownst to them at the time, the cast is a veritable who's who of Japanese talent and includes many who later became stellar talent in both the film and music industries. However, acting skills are not in high demand for the current film, since the roles require predominantly poseur scowls and massive choreographed brawls. And that's just the girls!!

story

Large gangs from rival high schools chase each other around with weapons to demonstrate their manliness to local yakuza thugs. The sole modus operandi of every male character in this film is to get the girl(s) and be the last man standing. The End.

verdict

It was by sheer coincidence that I picked two back-to-back films by director Nasu to review. He seems to specialize in manga-based films. His 2004 Devilman was outstanding and used computer generated effects to convincingly bring to life the demonic chaos of the Devilman manga. The current film however knows nothing of visual effects and relies solely upon drill bits, aluminum bats, long swords and free-for-all Judo competitions to get its point across.

And while this is very comedic, the film really has no "point" to get across. This world revolves solely around poseur hostility and endlessly beating each other up. The violence is so over-the-top that it is laughable and the resilience of the characters, who survive everything from massive electrocutions to 100-foot drops in vehicles, proves to audiences that this is intended to be a rough and tumble comedy.

For a far better "over-the-top" brawl film, I recommend Suzuki Seijun's 1966 Fighting Elegy. There you will find similarly hilarious and outrageous fight scenes among rivaling youth gangs, but with a profound underlying message in line with Suzuki's consistent anti-war emphasis. In that film, you'll walk away actually having learned and experienced something whereas with Be-Bop the storyline simply ends when everyone is beaten unconscious.

Version reviewed: Unsubtitled VHS

cultural interest violence sex strangeness
No intellectual content here whatsoever. Wall to wall fighting ranging from purely comedic to cringe-inducing. These girls are too busy beating each other up to find time alone with a guy. Some nostalgic imagery including a painful-to-watch high school DISCO party! There are plenty of hilarious moments.

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