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Fighting Elegy (The Criterion Collection)
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Top Customer Reviews
"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.Read more ›
Known for creating Yakuza films which include his popular 1963 film "Youth of the Beast" (Yaju no Seishun), the 1966 film "Tokyo Drifter (Tokyo Nagaremono) and the 1967 film "Branded to Kill" (Koroshi no Rakuin), despite his films not being big box office hits, he was known for creating films with striking compositions, hallucinatory images, flamboyant colors which were among his most well-known traits as a filmmaker.
"Fighting Elegy" is much different from his other three masterpiece films as this film was about rival gangs which would be the pre-cursor to Japan's Yankii culture, in black and white and would bring together humor and violence altogether in one film. The film was adapted from a novel by Takashi Suzuki courtesy of filmmaker Kaneto Shindo.
The film revolves around the character of Kiroku Nanbu (played by Hideki Takahashi), a teenager who lives in a boardinghouse and now a practicing Catholic and attends a military middle school in Okayama during the mid-1930's. Kiroku is in love with his landlord's daughter Michiko, a talented pianist.
But although Kiroku tries to make it to mass and be there for Michiko, he is also involved with the local gang known as the OSMS. Having trained in fighting and has quick reflexes, he's not very good at expressing how he feels and also has a problem with containing his love for Michiko. In fact, each time he thinks of her, he literally gets a hard on and feels that he needs to masturbate.
Torn by wanting to be by Michiko's side, unfortunately his gang doesn't appreciate such things.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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... Read morePublished on March 29, 2009 by Laird M. Wilcox
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 morePublished on October 6, 2008 by PolarisDiB
Director Seijun Suzuki has crafted a satire of the ultra-masculine, nationalistic mentality that made Japan's entry into WWII possible. Read morePublished on November 10, 2007 by David Bonesteel
Value of individual freedom cannot be measured, as it provides the right for a person to do what he or she desires. Read morePublished on March 1, 2005 by Swederunner
After watching "Fighting Elegy," I'm convinced Suzuki, little known here in the states, is one of our living masters of film. Read morePublished on March 13, 2001 by Christopher L Beckwith
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