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Fighting Elegy (The Criterion Collection) (2005)

Hideki Takahashi , Yûsuke Kawazu , Seijun Suzuki  |  Unrated |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Hideki Takahashi, Yûsuke Kawazu, Junko Asano, Takeshi Katô, Isao Tamagawa
  • Directors: Seijun Suzuki
  • Writers: Kaneto Shindô, Mitsutoshi Ishigami, Takashi Suzuki
  • Producers: Kazu Ôtsuka
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: January 11, 2005
  • Run Time: 86 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0006HC0F0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #271,107 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Fighting Elegy (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • A new essay by renowned film critic Tony Rayns
  • Original theatrical trailer

Editorial Reviews

High schooler Nanbu Kiroku yearns for the prim, Catholic Michiko, but her only desire is to reform Kiroku's sinful tendencies. Hormones raging, Kiroku channels his unsatisfied lust into the only outlet available: savage crazed violence. Fighting Elegy is a unique masterpiece in the diverse career of Seijun Suzuki, combining the director's signature bravura visual style with a brilliantly focused satire of machismo and fascism.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Boys be Ambitious!" June 5, 2005
One of the classics themes of Japanese literature is the way of Koha, the "Hard School." A path of absolute masculinity, Koha requires absolute repression of sexual desires and avoidance of "weak" women, who are distractions from what make a man a man. Men are forged through intense, focused martial arts training and constant fighting to harden the warrior's soul. The way of Koha can be found is such seminal Japanese works as Mishima's "The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea." Seijun Suzuki thinks this is pretty funny.

"Fighting Elegy" ("Kenka Erejii") is a sharp parody of Koha, taking a cynical look at the culture of boys in Japan, where the slogan "Boys be Ambitious!" can be heard shouted by mothers to their male children. All of the standards of a Koha flick are here; Kiroku Nanbu, the young upcoming tough with more spunk than ability. Turtle, an upper-student who becomes Kiroku's mentor in the ways of fighting. Michiko, a beautiful Catholic school girl who seeks to reveal Kiroku's soft side and lead him into love and marriage. Kiroku's inner battle between his lust for Michiko and his loyalty to Turtle is captured in the climatic line "I don't masturbate, I fight!"

Under Suzuki's directorial hand, this mockery of Koha is both hilarious and insightful. The military culture of WW II is one of the legacies of Koha, and "Fighting Elegy" takes place in a Japan on the brink of the Martial Law of 1935. Suzuki takes the fangs out of this ultimately destructive philosophy. One of his two non-Yakuza films (the other being "Story of a Prostitute"), it is nice to see Suzuki tackle this politically-charged topic so capably.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brute Comic Satire on the Rise of Japanese Fascism March 13, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
After watching "Fighting Elegy," I'm convinced Suzuki, little known here in the states, is one of our living masters of film. Suzuki is incomparable, though if an analogy is appropriate, he might be considered the japanese counterpart to Scorsese. Fighting Elegy, a coming-of-age film set in the prewar years, is a deft, dazzling, fast-paced satire on the rise of fascism amongst the teen set. According to the code of militant asceticism and self-denial that has swept the the all-male schools of Japan, "Love is for sissies," leaving the film's hapless protagonist torn between his love for a local girl,... and the bully code of school yard warrior glory. Suzuki moves with a breathless, freewheeling ease between the farce of youth violence with its absurd quest for honor and the tender, humbling comedy of painful first love. Inundated with samurai fare, american audiences will find this early sixties b&w film an astonishing leap into 20th century japanese social history that they are rarely given an opportunity to see. Exceptionally rewarding!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lots of fighting, little plot August 8, 2011
There's nothing quite so frustrating as a satire that totally doesn't work. "Fighting Elegy" is supposed to be some kind of brilliant attack on, I dunno, machismo or militarism or whatever, at least according to film critics and scholars. Funny, isn't it, that I interpreted this thing as a really poorly made and juvenile film about a bratty kid who gets into a lot of fistfights (rather like a Z-grade version of "Fight Club," which is also overrated).

Where do I start complaining about this film? The character development of our poorly acted protagonist is very minimal. We know that he's in love with a girl named Michiko, though we don't really know why, because he has zero chemistry with her. Because he can't have Michiko, our hero works out his frustrations by getting into a series of totally unconvincing - yet still rather violent and borderline sadistic - fights. The fights come with comedy sound effects, reminiscent of the Adam West Batman (THWACK! POW! ARRGH!) Every once in a while, the director tosses some Catholic imagery into the mix, like a crucifix with a big spotlight on it. What does all this mean? I'm afraid my poor brain was not up to the task of unpacking imagery of such, um, depth. I just thought it was pretentious.

Despite the fact that the film is quite short, it's repetitive and draggy, as the hero constantly gets into fights and then gets into trouble for having the fights. My interest was somewhat sustained by some good imagery - like the two "lovers" holding hands through a rip in a shoji screen - but a few good images do not a good film make. And, as is common with director Suzuki's pictures, the editing is so scatterbrained that I often had trouble following the action.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Great Criterion Reproduction. March 29, 2009
Criterion did their usual good job of restoring the original. Interesting study of pre-WWII Japanese nationalism and pointless gang violence with a the usual over-acting and improbable acrobatic fight scenes. The female lead is a sainted virginal figure in love with a fanatic nut case. The promotional material for this film suggests that the male lead is motivated by sexual frustration but that hardly explains his psychopathic anger. Ordinarily I find Japanese movies of the pre-war period fascinating but the overdone gang fights were a bit much. It ends on an indeterminate note, probably because the sequel was never filmed.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A non-yakuza Seijun Suzuki's masterpiece!
"Fighting Elegy (Kenka Elegy), the masterpiece of director Seijun Suzuki known for his many B-movies for Japan's oldest major movie studio, Nikkatsu Company from 1956-1967. Read more
Published on March 2, 2010 by Dennis A. Amith (kndy)
5.0 out of 5 stars Japanese satire of Italian-style fascism? Must see!
Okay, so Seijun Suzuki's movie "Fighting Elegy" has a little bit more to it than that--as Suzuki movies are wont to do, post-modernly. Read more
Published on October 6, 2008 by PolarisDiB
4.0 out of 5 stars Be a man!
Director Seijun Suzuki has crafted a satire of the ultra-masculine, nationalistic mentality that made Japan's entry into WWII possible. Read more
Published on November 10, 2007 by David Bonesteel
3.0 out of 5 stars an average 1966 violent teenage movie
with rigid, stiff and unnatural 'acting' by those japanese young men. a very simple-minded screenplay. the directing was also not so good due to a weak storyline. Read more
Published on May 12, 2007 by JustAReader
3.0 out of 5 stars an interesting film about lust vs. love
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.

"Fighting Elegy" known in Japan as "Kenka erejii" is about a young Japanese man living with a Roman... Read more
Published on April 4, 2005 by Ted
4.0 out of 5 stars Wild Cinematic Journey as Youth is Coming of Age...
Value of individual freedom cannot be measured, as it provides the right for a person to do what he or she desires. Read more
Published on March 1, 2005 by Kim Anehall
5.0 out of 5 stars another rare find
mr. suzuki has done it again. not as visually wild as his other outings (branded,tokyo drifter) but neither the less its seijin and you can tell. Read more
Published on November 6, 2000 by scott mckenzie
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