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Fighting Elegy (The Criterion Collection)

4.1 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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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.

Special Features

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

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
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: January 11, 2005
  • Run Time: 86 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0006HC0F0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,671 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Fighting Elegy (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: DVD
"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.

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.
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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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