High Kick Girl – Review August 6, 2009Posted by Cello in Movie Reviews.
This showcase for then 17 year-old karate wunderkind Rina Takeda plays almost like a training manual for the sport. No wires. No stuntmen. Just pure, undiluted, high-kicking action. That’s more or less the promise of Fuyuhiko Nishi’s stripped down action flick, a modestly budgeted affair in which special effects are replaced by actual, eye-watering combat. This film is the real deal for serious martial arts fans who so often get short-changed by genre films enslaved to visual effects and wire-fu. Where High Kick Girl stumbles is the script’s inability to develop genuine characters or human interaction and the near absence of comic relief. But if fighting is why you want to see this movie, fighting is what you’ll get.
A high school girl named Kei joins a karate dojo and makes short work of all the boys she faces due to her vastly superior athletic abilities. Kei quickly decides she deserves her black belt. However, her sensei Matsumura denies her. Brash and impatient, Kei joins a rival group of fighters called the Destroyers, which don’t have strict guidelines like Matsumura, and even encourage their members to use their fighting abilities to earn quick cash. Unfortunately the group’s leader is recruiting fighters to attack Matsumura. When Kei objects to the plan she gets kidnapped and it’s up to Matsumura to defend his student.
High Kick Girl was made with a huge amount of respect for martial arts and martial artists. Instead of the combat passing by in the blink of an eye as it does in so many martial arts ventures, the action in High Kick Girl is shown blow for blow, often in slow motion and repeated in order to allow the audience to fully savour and digest the majestic magic of the martial arts. However, the film lacks the showiness of Sonny Chiba’s karate films and the panty flashing action one might expect from a Japanese action movie about a female fighter in a schoolgirl uniform.
The problems with High Kick Girl are many and frequent and immediately obvious. On the purely technical end, the cinematography is quite poor. 17 year-old Takeda may not be as cute and baby-faced as Chocolate’s [review] Muay Thai heroine Jija. Nonetheless, in time I have no doubt her skills can become an asset in bigger Asian action productions. Simply put, this chick is fierce and I was really looking forward to this one film. High Kick Girl opened in Japan this summer so a stateside release won’t happen anytime soon. Browse the web for torrents or aquire a bootleg. I won’t tell. Promise.