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Hula Girls

4.6 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

Additional DVD options Edition Discs
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(Mar 31, 2009)
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(Apr 24, 2012)
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Editorial Reviews

2-disc set loaded with special features!


* The Making of Hula Girls

* How To Be a Hula Girl

* Hula Girls: The Real Story

* An Interview with Jake Shimabukuro (music)

* Original Japanese Trailers

Winner of 2007 Japanese Academy Awards for Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress; Winner of 2007 Blue Ribbon Awards for Best Film, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress; Winner of 2007 Kinema Junpo Awards for Best Film and Best Supporting Actress; Winner of 2006 Hochi Film Awards for Best Film and Best Supporting Actress.

Based on a true story, HULA GIRLS is a heartwarming comedy about coal miners daughters who took a once-in-a-lifetime chance to escape their monotonous lives, only to become unwitting heroes to their depressed mining town as well as the whole of Japan.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Yu Aoi, Etsushi Toyokawa, Yasuko Matsuyuki, Sumiko Fuji, Ittoku Kishibe
  • Directors: Lee Sang-il
  • Format: Multiple Formats, NTSC, Widescreen, Anamorphic, Color, Dolby
  • Language: Japanese (Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: VIZ Pictures, Inc.
  • DVD Release Date: March 31, 2009
  • Run Time: 200 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000VS6Q7W
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #111,870 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Hula Girls" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
For those that have watched the Full Monty, Brassed off, you have a good idea of what to expect. Yes, the story might be cliche but it's done very effectively in this offering. Yet again, this is based upon a true story in a rural township in Japan in the mid-60s when the mining town is facing the dire situation of extinction as the main industry of mining coal is coming to an end. A scheme is suggested to revive employment there by having a purpose built bath resort with a Hawaiian theme. To do that, it needs hula girls. In the beginning, recruiting the dancers is a tall order as Japan during that time is still conservative and baring too much flesh is a definite no-no. However, there is a stubborn girl who steadfastly refuses to give up even though she's being excommunicated from her mother who happens to be a mining comittee member anti progressive movement. However, she has a loving and supportive elderly brother who encourages her to follow her dream. She would subsequently become the lead dancer. Normally, a Hollywood offering would concentrate in training those misfits into successful people and we would sit through the routine of artificial gags to make us laugh. For this instance, there is actually character development through the dancing teacher who is recruited from Tokyo. She has a ferocious temper and running away from her demon for not being able to hit the big time in Tokyo. As time progresses, as she sees commitment in eyes of those miners' daughters, she suddenly discovers herself by having a goal to turn the fate of the dying town around. Hula Girls is a surprisingly touching movie and I'm deeply moved by it. It's really amazing to read the end credit to say that Hula Girls are still running strong today and that the same teacher is still doing her thing at that resort now. Highly recommended for a shot in the arm to follow our dreams.
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Format: DVD
Probably the biggest surprise of "Hula Girls", and what gives it such impact, is how it comes out of left field with its depth and emotion. What appears to be a by-the-numbers feel good movie, about a bunch of fish-out-of-water types who aspire to something more, to the tune of "Shall We Dance?" or "The Full Monty", ends up being a brutal and violent tale, filled with prejudice and entrenched small town thinking. This is "Billy Elliot". This is "Coal Miner's Daughter".

Life is hard for coal miners, and during the mid-60s when demand for coal dropped off and the mines started closing, it became harsher still. One of the lofty dreams of Japan at the time was the concept of life-time employment, where a company was your family and they looked after their employees faithfully. Many such projects as the Joban Hawaiian Center were started at that time, attempting to replace vanishing industries with tourism and supplying new employment for company workers. It was an admirable goal, rather than just discarding unneeded laborers to fend for themselves. Most of the time it ended in failure, and the various "Canada Lands" and "Holland Centers" that populated the Japanese countryside are now all barren ruins. The Hawaiian resorts still stands though, and the Hula Girls are still dancing.

Very loosely based on this true story, director Sang-il Lee artfully mixed the dull colors of the mining world with the bright promise of a better future in the flashing colors of Hawaii. Korean-Japanese, Lee knows something about the harshness of attempting to bring new thoughts to a closed community, as he has shown in his first film "Chong". He also understands the freedom and resilience of youth, having adapted Ryu Murakami's youth-rebellion novel "69".
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Format: DVD
I haven't seen the U.S. version (with English subtitles) yet, but just watched the Japanese version again. The fact that this is a true story, and that I happen to have been to both Iwaki and Joban Hawaiian Center, makes it ring all the more authentic for me. And being from Hawaii, of course, I'm proud to know that this project (the center, not the film) actually accomplished what it set out to do.

The only thing I feel bad about for viewers who don't understand Japanese is that the Iwaki dialect is probably completely lost in translation for foreign audiences. It would be like watching "Fargo" with Japanese subtitles (and I have), where a lot of the subtlety comes as much from the local accent as from the words themselves; the Iwaki accent is easily as distinctive, and carries the same sense of rural innocence, as the exaggerated Minnesota accent employed by the Cohen brothers. Key is a scene on the bus, as the troupe is heading towards a performance. The teacher, who is from Tokyo (and resolutely so), says a few words in what is clearly an Iwaki accent, indicating both the passage of time since she arrived, and her newfound willingness to let go of her urban identity and get closer to the girls she teaches.

Unfortunately, there is just no effective way of communicating the dialect in subtitles...
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Yes, this is truly a fine, feel-good movie. However, I haven't read any mention by other reviewers of the absolutely incredible dancing performed by the actresses. As a former professional Polynesian dancer myself, I have danced in and seen many, many Polynesian dance reviews and have Never seen anything that tops the perfection shown by these actresses. More amazing is the fact that they only had around 9 months to learn all the necessary dance skills and routines, which they performed so flawlessly.
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