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Fighting Elegy (The Criterion Collection)


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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: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0006HC0F0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #304,472 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

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Zack Davisson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 5, 2005
Format: DVD
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 By Little Roy Blue on August 8, 2011
Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
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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By David Bonesteel on November 10, 2007
Format: DVD
Director Seijun Suzuki has crafted a satire of the ultra-masculine, nationalistic mentality that made Japan's entry into WWII possible. Kiroku Nanbu (Hideki Takahashi), a city boy transplanted to the countryside, devotes himself to attaining the ideal pinnacle of manliness, which requires him to forsake relations with women. He struggles with his tender feelings for Michiko (Junko Asano), a pure hearted Catholic girl who is attracted to him as well. Sharply critical of the militaristic mindset, this film is a very entertaining blend of absurdity and realism.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 1, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Value of individual freedom cannot be measured, as it provides the right for a person to do what he or she desires. However, most societies have rules that each and every person must follow in order to maintain a safe society. These rules are often based on some sort of moral value. Nonetheless, individual freedom in general offers the freedom of self-expression and individual growth without outside influence. In a society where freedom is given it is essential to protect this freedom, as freedom gives people the power to fulfill themselves.

Expression of fascism often puts the race before all through despotism that is exercised from a central source where total domination enforces the rules. In the event of resistance brutal force maintains the order and people quickly learn that punishment is the only means of motivation. In the Japanese community where the high school student Kiroku Nanbu (Hideki Takahashi) lives he is being fostered to in a strong nationalistic spirit where hostility toward strangers is overtly expressed. This helps to form Kiroku's identity, as heavy punitive regulations keep him in line.

The fascist theme has a very serious meaning, yet the middle-aged Seijun Suzuki's direction offers youthful illumination of the situation through Kiroku Nanbu who finds himself between fascist ideology and individual expressive freedom. Kiroku is torn between the young fascist males and a neighbor catholic girl Michiko (Junko Asano), and is fueled by his adolescently raging hormones. Through Kiroku's friends he ends up in gang fights that function as an outlet for his anger and trained dissatisfaction with the society.
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