Movie Review: Black Belt Jones

About a week ago, I mentioned that I’d recently bought myself a copy of the 1974 classic Black Belt Jones, and the response from the ISB’s readership was immediate. No sooner was the post online than I was besieged with requests–nay, demands–to review this one.

Unfortunately, I can’t do it. Black Belt Jones is just too awesome for one man to handle, even someone with my experience with cinematic awesomeness.

And that’s why I had to bring in some backup. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome a very special guest to tonight’s installment of the ISB:



The Human Tornado!


That’s right, folks: this is an event so titanic that we’re putting aside our bitter rivalry for a team-up with one mission in mind: Rocking Your Face. So when you’re done here, head over to Dave’s Long Box for his side of the story.

Now then, on with it!



First things first: If you’d like just a small sample of how mind-blowingly awesome this movie is, download the original 1974 radio ad and give it a listen, because that just about sums it up.

In the title role of Black Belt Jones, we have none other than Jim Kelly, and like the ad says, you’ll probably remember him as Williams from Enter the Dragon,where he gets a pretty raw deal. Originally, that movie was planned to end with Roper, John Saxon’s character, getting killed with Lee and Williams taking on Han in the big climax. However, when Saxon’s agent complained, the roles were reversed, and Kelly’s character took a powder so the future star of Mitchell could get a little extra screen time.

Fortunately, Jones suffers from no such problems, as it’s pretty much wall-to-wall Jim Kelly beating ass for about eighty-four minutes.

It all gets started with Jones–who, as we’re about to learn, is the baddest mothertrucker on Planet Earth–doing a little bodyguarding on the side for some vaguely Latin American ambassadors, which leads directly into what is unquestionably the greatest opening credit sequence of the ’70s:



Dave Sez:

The opening sequence in Black Belt Jones is one of the greatest beginnings to any movie. Ever. It may SEEM like Black Belt Jones is moving slow, and that the guys he’s fighting are drunk, but I assure you that’s not the case. In order to get an “R” rating they actually had to slow the film down because audiences in the Seventies could not handle that much brutal action. They just weren’t equipped for it back then.


Interestingly enough, the assassins don’t bother to actually go after their target, instead preferring to wait their turn while Jones completely demolishes them–and a police car–in a truly incredible four-minute sequence while three gentlemen who may or may not be “The Man” look on with interest.

Admittedly, it’s actually more like a two minute sequence dragged out by the fact that it freeze-frames for a good twenty seconds every time Jones punches someone. And really, why wouldn’t it?

Once the preliminary ass-kicking and a scene where Black Belt argues with his boss (thus characterizing him as a loner who doesn’t play by the rules) are out of the way, we get the basics of the plot: There’s a new Civic Center being built, and the mob’s bought up all the necessary land, with the exception of one last holdout: Pop Byrd who runs the Black Byrd Karate School when he’s not out, and I quote, “gamblin’ and ho-chasin’.” And yes: He is played by Scatman Crothers.


Dave Says:

Black Belt Jones is the best movie Scatman Crothers has ever been in. I’m counting The Shining, too. He kicks 100% more ass in Black Belt Jones than that Kubrick wankfest.


As you might expect, the Black Byrd Karate School holds a special place in the heart of its foremost student, Black Belt Jones. Unfortunately, all of Pop’s aforementioned gamblin’ and/or ho-chasin’ have caused him to get in debt to local facial-hair afficionado Pinky:



In addition to the duties of maintaining that luxurious beard of his, Pinky’s also the local gang boss, which is revealed in a scene where he threatens to knock a young Socialist’s teeth out with a billiard ball because, as he says, “no teeth, no cavities.” Suck on that, Crest.

Anyway, the Mob goes to him with their problem, and so he sets about leaning on Pop by taking his crew of unarmed flunkies to a Karate school and starting a fight.

You might be wondering how that works out. Well…



…it’s about like you’d expect.

And here’s the thing: That’s just the students. Jones, meanwhile, is across town, hanging out on a beach with his shirt off and watching hot girls jump on trampolines.



You know, when I heard the radio ad, I always assumed that Black Belt’s “army of girl high jumpers” were, y’know, paratroopers or something. But, as it turns out, they’re just ladies who really, really like to bounce. And somehow, that’s way better.

Anyway, after giving Pop a lecture on changing his ways and devoting more time to the school, Black Belt decides to lay a trap for Pinky’s men, who return that night to find Jones and another karate instructor laying in wait to beat the living crap out of them in the dark, flipping the lights on every three seconds to keep the thugs confused.

Under normal circumstances, a fight scene with no lighting would be pretty rough, but this one manages to become one of the greatest scenes in cinema history with the addition of one line:


Ray: Who the fuck hit me?!



Dave Says:

It’s hard to pick a favorite line, but I liked the bit where BBJ says to the karate students: “We’re going to McDonalds!” and they all scream: “MCDONALDS!!!!”


Unfortunately, they can only delay Pinky for so long, and he eventually catches up with Pop on one of his Ho-Chasin’ outings and roughs him up to the point where he accidentally kills him. Thus, control of the dojo falls to the mysterious Sydney, who turns out to be Pop’s estranged daughter, who–if you’ll remember–is a super chick who’s a smash at Karate and really means business.

Ladies and gentlemen, Miss Gloria Hendry:



And she does, too. In fact, the first thing she does after burying her father is to go find Pinky’s men in their pool hall hangout and then kick the hell out of ’em. It’s just how she rolls.

Of course, that’s not without his consequences: Realizing that he’s now facing down two karate experts, Pinky decides to hire a band of more competent thugs, and ends up with a gang of guys so tough that when they bust up into the dojo to find Sydney, they’re able to bounce one of the students off of a trampoline…



…and through the damn ceiling.

Clearly, action must be taken, and in order to bust this case wide open, Black Belt needs proof that the Mob’s been behind Pinky’s attempts to get the dojo. Thus, he recruits the only people you want to turn to when you’re up against the deadly scourge of organized crime:



Trampoline Jumping Bikini Girls!


By the way, their names are Charlene, Mary, and Pickles.


Dave Says:

Pickles. Jesus Christ.


You know, it occurs to me that this is probably the most trampoline-centric action movie of all time.

Anyway, despite hitting a snag–I know, with all the careful trampoline training, it’s hard to believe it didn’t go off as smooth as they wanted–that part of the plan’s a success, and after a scene where Black Belt proves how awesome he is by using his karate skills to hit even the freakin’ elevator button, it’s time to go rescue Quincy.

Who’s Quincy, you ask? He’s this movie’s federally mandated Scrappy Kid Sidekick who was kidnapped when the new set of thugs took on the karate school, which means that at this point, Pinky’s been holding him at gunpoint for like four days. But really, why sweat the details? All you really need to know is that the whole thing ends with Jones showing up and kicking pretty much everybody through windows.

Still, Pinky’s not quite out of the game yet, and after he convinces the Mob that it’s Jones who’s at fault for the missing $250,000 that he’s been skimming off the drug trade, they send him after him for one last shot.

Jones, meanwhile, has moved on, and taken Sydney to the beach for a little romance. Except that “romance” is here translated as Sydney telling him he’s “gotta take it,” backhanding him twice, and… let’s just say that she casts aspersions on his sexuality. This, I guess, is Action Movie Foreplay.


Black Belt Jones: I’m gonna make you sweat. One way… and then the other.


Unfortunately, before they can get much sweating done, Pinky and his boys show up kick off the Big Fight, getting into a car chase with a shirtless Jones–who at one point throws Sydney’s panties at them after telling her “You don’t need these!”–that ends up with Jones and the thugs throwing down in an automatic car wash.

And yes: it is awesome.


Dave Says:

Dave says: It’s a testament to the originality and daring of this film that there has never been another martial arts brawl in a sudsy car wash in movie history. It’s like, why bother? You can’t touch Black Belt Jones!


Agreed, Dave. After all…



…if they have karate battles in Heaven, I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what they look like.

Spooktoberfest Movie Review: Bio Zombie

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a big fan of horror movies, and I think that has a lot to do with the fact that I was, well, an extremely paranoid child. I’ve always been more into comedy and action when it comes to my entertainment but when I was a kid, the smallest bit of slasher-flick violence, no matter how ludicrous, would stick with me in the back of my brain and pop up when I was trying to get to sleep. Then again, given that I’ve already confessed to being irrationally terrified of the cover to Deadshot #4 and the voice of Sinistar, it probably doesn’t surprise anyone that Chucky from Child’s Play used to scare the living crap out of me.

Of course, eventually there came that magic summer when I turned 12 and realized one good football punt would send Chucky into the next county, and that’d pretty much be the end of that.

These days, I’ve come to enjoy a good scare every now and then, but I still like them the most when they involve a guy with, say, a big stone hand that punches out monsters or a handgun he uses to shoot ghosts in the face and a liberal amount of comedy thrown in for good measure.

Which brings us back around to Bio Zombie.



Unlike a lot of the movies that I talk about here on the ISB–most of which I pick up with the express intention of writing about them later–I’ve had a copy of Bio Zombie over on the shelf for years, for the simple reason that it is awesome. Imagine, if you will, what would’ve happened if Shaun of the Dead was made in Hong Kong in 1998, and instead of starring characters named Shaun and Ed, it was about two guys named Woody Invincible and Crazy Bee.

Yes: Woody Invincible. It is my parents’ greatest failing that this wasn’t the name I ended up with back in ’82. Well, that and my sister.

Anyway, like I said, it’s awesome. And I get the feeling that since I’ve already seen it, you guys–who were able to provide information on both Wild Zero and Sukeban Deka–probably have too. For those of you who haven’t, however, allow me to explain.



Our Heroes, ladies and gentlemen: Woody (Jordan Chen) on the left and Bee (Sam Lee) on the right. These two upstanding pillars of the community make their living selling bootleg VCDs at the mall, which appears to involve a lot of sitting around playing House of the Dead on Dreamcast and very little actual retail work.

In any case, the facial specialist being discussed above is, of course…



…fellow mall employee and all-around super-hottie Rolls (Angela Tong Ying-Ying). In addition to her work as MegaMan’s robot sister, Rolls spends the majority of her time hanging out with her requisite less-attractive friend Jelly and cruelly flirting with the Sushi Guy from down at the food court, who is played by a dude with the apt and awesome real name of Emotion Cheung. This will become important later because, as we all know, even a zombie can love.

Uh, spoiler warning. I guess.

Anyway, while Woody and Bee are running an errand for their boss wherein they encounter genunine royalty…



…sinister events are a-brewing!

See, at an abandoned warehouse across town, an actual group of cigar-smoking fat-cats are meeting with government types who, as government types are wont to do, are buying their latest innovation: A chemical disguised as a common soda that can turn a normal man into the shambling undead… the zombie!

I’m going to go ahead and guess that we all know where this is going.

Predictably, Test Zombie #1 breaks loose and, while it’s shot in the head, one of the military types who showed up to the product demonstration flees with the soda and is promptly run over by Woody and Bee, on their way back from picking up the boss’s car.

After a quick Weekend at Bernie’s moment, Woody and Bee try to do the right thing and grant the guy his last request by letting him drink the “soda,” then shove him into the trunk to be dealt with later and head back to the mall, only to get distracted by the more pressing concern of helping out a disgruntled customer:



By the time they remember the corpse stinking up the boss’s ride, find out it’s gone and grab some dinner with the ladies, it’s just in time for the place to close and get locked down for the evening.

Yes, my friends, you read it right: It’s Die Hard meets Mallrats… with Zombies. So brace yourselves, because it’s about to get awesome.



Of course, while the plague of zuvembies is spreading to the Food Court, Woody’s busy with petty theft, getting drunk, and making out with Rolls in the ladies room while poor Loi the Sushi Boy–already heartbroken over being spurned by Rolls–gets bitten, despite using a toilet seat to give his zombie The Business.

Needless to say, Sushi Boy quickly joins the ranks of the undead himself, but rather than just wandering around mindlessly eating brains, he goes to get Rolls a present. Because seriously, she’s that hot.

But it’s probably best to move on: Once everyone finally gets hip to the fact that the dead are mall-walking–after the best “split-screen” visual gag in zombie movie history when they’re interrogated by the cops–Woody and Bee are the only ones who know how to deal with things, thanks to the hours of training from the underappreciated Dreamcast:



Who’s laughing now, PlayStation 2?

Before long, Woody and Bee have met up with Jelly and Kui and Mrs. Kui–a local entrepreneur/douchebag and his beleagured ZMWILF–and once Woody saves Rolls from a team of zombie soccer players, the goal is clear: Getting out of a mall full of commerce-driven zombies alive.

As usual, small businessmen cannot be trusted, and once Kui throws Jelly to her death-by-devouring, it’s time to get serious:



The next scene is actually my favorite bit of the movie: As everybody gets equipped, the movie suddenly switches over to shots of them slowly rotating in place against a black background with a readout of their stats. Because really: Who doesn’t like a little Resident Evil (the game) in their Resident Evil (the movie)?




For the record, the group collectively idolizes both Hello Kitty and Bruce Lee, which means they’d probably fall right within my target readership.

From then on out, it’s pretty much let’s kill zombies with power tools time, which, of course, is the best time. Needless to say, Mr. and Mrs. Kui die after he finally grows a pair and tries to save her from being eaten (which doesn’t quite work out too well for either of ’em), Bee also tries to rescue Mrs. Kui (for she, like the sirens of old, lures men to their deaths with her business casual blouse and sensible skirt) and ends up dying after a genuinely touching moment, and Woody and Rolls make it through a horde of zombies and escape the mall alive.

…Of course, once they’re out, Rolls mistakes the Zombie Formula (remember that? From an hour ago?) for a soda and takes a big swig, and Woody–in true Romeo and Juliet (With Zombies!!) fashion–follows suit with a gulp of his own. It’s a pretty big downer for a movie that kicks off with its protagonists cracking jokes about a mechanic’s testicles, but hey, whaddaya want from a Chinese horror movie?

A happy ending?

Movie Review: Wild Zero

Believe it or not, I actually do listen to my readers, and when two of them email me months apart, completely independently of each other and recommend the same movie, I tend to take notice. In this case, the movie in question was Japan’s epic zombie musical from the year 2000, Wild Zero.

Sadly, it was not, as I had been informed, the best movie ever made, an honor that long-time ISB readers will no doubt recall belongs to Kill and Kill Again.

It is, however, totally in the top five.



At its heart, Wild Zero is a movie about a young man learning about life and love, and how we all have the power within ourselves to overcome our hardships–wait… No, that’s not right at all. Hang on, I had my notes mixed up.

Okay, here we go: At its heart, Wild Zero is about blowing up zombies with the power of rock ‘n’ roll, and if that’s not one of the classic conflicts of literature already, it damn well should be.

I could pretty much stop there and give you my word that this movie is scientifically calibrated to blow your mind, and in fact, the IMDB listing under Plot Summary remains completely empty–an affliction shared, oddly enough, by Road House–but I’m going to make my best effort here.

The whole thing gets started when a meteor crash-lands in the city of Asahi, and given that you already know that this movie involves zombies, you’ve probably already guessed that that’ll be important later.

Anyway, this handsome devil… is Ace:



…and he’s pretty much our main character by default. As he says later on in the movie, his name’s Ace because “Ace… is number one,” and in the grand tradition of zombie movies, he misses the news about the meteorite because he’s too busy getting ready to go see the real stars of the show.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…




A three-piece rockabilly combo featuring the sound stylings of Guitar Wolf, Bass Wolf, and Drum Wolf, these guys are real-life Japanese rock stars whose careers seem to be based almost entirely on kicking ass, and in addition to providing a frontman whose main purpose in life is getting drunk and making stuff explode, they also do the music for the film, which was named after one of their songs.

At one point, in fact, the camera cuts away from the action to show them in concert playing a song that goes a little something like this:


Roaring Blood!
Roaring Blood!
Roaring Blood!
Exploding Blood!
Roaring Blood!

Baby Baby Baby, Roaring Blood!
Blood Blood Blood, Exploding Blood!


…and when Guitar Wolf sings, flames shoot out of the microphone. Face it tiger: You just found your new favorite band.

During the opening concert, their rock gets to the point where Guitar Wolf blasts a fan off of his feet with lightning from his guitar, although to be fair, it’s not made clear whether or not Ace just happened to catch them on a really good night. Regardless, it’s a pretty fantastic scene… or it would be, were it not interrupted halfway through by some dude viciously beating the crap out of a hooker, an image that doesn’t really mesh well with a feel-good song about jets and other loud objects.

But it all leads somwehere… sort of. After their set, while Ace is trying to build up the courage to approach the club owner and get a show of his own, Guitar Wolf passes the offending party as he walks the hooker out, and exchanges an angry look. Things only get more tense as the band faces off against the club owner, a gentleman with an affinity for very, very tiny pants and cocaine mixed with milk, until things escalate to the point where everyone pulls out a gun at what appears to be a completely random point of the conversation.



It’s a standoff for a few minutes until Ace bursts in to shout that rock ‘n’ roll isn’t dead, and that’s when the shooting starts (and, for the record, it’ll be continuing pretty steadily for the rest of the movie). Needless to say, Guitar Wolf is not to be trifled with, the Club Owner gets a few fingers blown off for his trouble and swears revenge, and Ace is given a whistle to blow whenever he feels the need to summon the unstoppable rock power of Guitar Wolf.

The next day finds Ace crusing around on his motorcycle when he stops at a gas station and inadvertently foils what can only be referred to as an accidental robbery by three characters who insist on sticking around for the rest of the movie despite all evidence pointing to the fact that these were cameo roles at best.

And that’s where he meets Tobio:



Left on the side of the road by an angry traveling companion, Tobio finds herself alone in a Foreign Land (she’s Thai), but rather than stick around and follow up on their obvious love connection, Ace realizes he’s going to be late for the next Guitar Wolf show and leaves her at the abandoned gas station.

This, of course, is the appropriate course of action.

Meanwhile, a few guys from the previous night–including the one who worked the hooker over–run across a gang of footwear-wielding zombies, and–again, in time-honored zombie movie tradition–completely fail to realize that they’re the walking dead, despite the fact that they are both shambling and blue.

Ace is able to make it a few miles down the road before he’s confronted with the undead, and promptly hightails it back to the gas station, picks up a mop, and proceeds to rescue Tobio Toxie-Style!



Tobio and Ace make their escape, and after a strange scene in which the Club Owner (whose actual name, it seems, is The Captain) auditions a girl who sings a song about miracle beams of love, this movie gets even more awesome in the only way that it possibly can:



Yes, my friends, that is a naked woman shooting zombies in the head–which, of course, makes them explode–from the comfort of her own shower. Movie: Awesome. Review: Over.

…but really, I’ve come this far, I might as well continue. After all, this is where this flick starts to get awesome with a vengeance.

The Captain–still missing a few fingers from his earlier encounter–finds out where Guitar Wolf is playing and sets off with a car-load of guns to get his revenge, the vaguely militaristic but definitely naked girl above grabs a rather formal swimsuit and flees the scene, and Ace and Tobio hole up in an abandoned building for an emotional scene where he reveals that finding love in such a horrible situation has made him believe in God.

And then he finds out she’s a dude.



Brother, if I had a nickel.

Given that he’s already stressed out, it’s pretty understandable that Ace freaks out and boards himself in a nearby room, but once the spirit of Guitar Wolf shows up to set him straight (as it were) in a process that takes roughly eighty thousand fewer words than Chasing Amy, he decides that it’s a better idea to channel his anger to a more productive end.

Namely, beating zombies to death with a crowbar.



Fortunately for Ace–who spends the next half our on that whole zombie-bludgeoning project–he is not alone even in this, his most trying of times.

For Guitar Wolf has heard his cry.



That, for the record, is a phrase I intend to use in my day to day life as often as possible.

Anyway, before they can save Ace, Guitar Wolf has to face the Captain down in a battle that taught the Captain the folly of trying to use a zombie as a human shield, and featured an explosions-per-minute ratio that made me glad to be alive. Seriously, there’s a scene where the Captain shoots a grenade into an apartment building, and Guitar Wolf leaps out as it explodes, dropping a power chord on his way to the ground, where he lands on his feet and re-tunes his axe, which was so awesome that even trying to screencap it would blow your monitor to pieces.

And if that does not bring tears of joy to your eyes, then we will never understand each other.

With Guitar Wolf out of bullets, they go hand-to-hand for a fight so intense that green lightning erupts from the combatants, which has the unforseen and inexplicable side-effect of giving the Captain super-powers. Luckily, after only six or seven explosions resulting from lightning fired from his eyes, the rest of the band shows up with a rocket launcher and blows him up but good.

And then the aliens show up.

And then Guitar Wolf pulls a sword out of his guitar, cuts a spaceship in half, blows it up, and saves the world.



So yeah. You guys remember that time I said this wasn’t the greatest movie ever made?

There’s a slim chance that I might’ve been wrong.

Movie Review: Yo-Yo Girl Cop

Earlier this month, I took a break from the standard talk about comics for the evening to review 1987’s Sukeban Deka, which translates to the absolutely awesome title of Juvenile Delinquent Girl Detective. Due largely to the fact that it features a girl taking down a helicopter and battling a cyborg with the use of a yo-yo, Sukeban Deka has stood as the finest toy-based Japanese Schoolgirl combat film ever produced, but finally, after two decades of anticipation, its latest sequel has finally been released.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… Yo-Yo Girl Cop.



Yes, it’s Yo-Yo Girl Cop, and despite the fact that the box art for the movie includes both explosions and a quote that praises it with the name of the movie franchise that gave us the concept of Tokyo Drifting, it’s actually not as good as the previous installment. A lot of that has to do with the fact that it’s a movie about a schoolgirl fighting crime with a yo-yo (which is awesome) that has a plot revolving largely around teen suicide (which is not), thus making for a largely schizophrenic movie that doesn’t quite know what the hell it’s doing half the time.

There are, however, some truly awesome bits.

The whole thing kicks off twenty years after the events of Sukeban Deka, opening with a schoolgirl strapped into a bomb blowing herself up in the middle of a busy street in Shibuya. So yeah, it starts things off just a shade dark for my tastes.

Cut to the opening credits, and we’ve got a reasonable Amanda Waller simulacrum leading a young girl (Aya Matsuura) in a straitjacket into a dimly lit Gitmo-esque facility where she’s put into a cage made of chicken wire, presumably so she won’t throw any bottles at the band.

It seems the young lady–whose name is the imaginative “K,” at least for the duration of the next three scenes–is being deported from the far-off land of New York City for reasons that aren’t exactly clear, with equally murky charges being brought up against her mother for alleged spying. As it turns out, her mom’s actually the original Sukeban Deka (played here by Yuki Saito, the actress who played the original on TV), so a friendly detective named Kira offers her a deal: The Japanese government will offer a plea bargain to the Americans to free her mother if she goes undercover in the reactivated Sukeban Deka program.

Dubious legality aside, you’ve probably already figured out that she agrees… but not before she escapes from her straightjacket and busts out of the rage cage, a backflip-ridden process that was too dimly lit to grab any good screenshots. Sorry.

Anyway, once they’ve got her chained up in the steel cage–which continues the theme of bondage that runs through this movie so much that it transcends subtext and just becomes actual text–they give her the briefing, preparing her to be sent into one of the deadliest high school environments in the entire country.

Sadly, it’s still not Cromartie, which is a real shame, since the kind of unexplained phenomena that plague that school would be the perfect target for a yo-yo weilding juvenile delinquent. It is, instead, Seisen Academy which, thanks to a website named after the Enola Gay that functions like an profoundly more emo Anarchist Cookbook, has become a hotbed of suburban suicide bombers. And to make matters worse, after the death of the previous agent (the girl who gets blown up in the opening sequence), the website’s recently started a 72-hour countdown, so K’s assigned to go undercover, find out what the hell’s going on, and put a stop to it.

To go through that one more time: They’re sending in a completely untrained operative into a hostile environment where a previous agent’s cover has already been blown, and giving her a three-day time limit to stop “something.” That may seem like a completely bat-shit insane way to run a police force, but like Kira says, “The only one who can solve a teenage case…”



Please note that K buys that line of thinking about as much as I do.

But eventually, they finally come to an agreement. Thus, she gets her equipment from Inspector Awesome Shades…



…straps her yo-yo to her thigh in a garter holster…



…and heads off to her new school as Saki Asamiya, the codename used by all the Sukebans Deka.

Incidentally, they also give her the traditional blue sailor-style uniform worn by the other girls, which is pretty remarkably different from the uniform that’s actually worn at Seisen Academy. Because, y’know, you want your covert operatives to stick out as much as humanly possible. It makes their job way easier.

Once at school, Saki quickly ingratiates herself with her classmates:




This is immediately followed by an encounter with local Mean Girl Reika (Rika Ishikawa) and her crew of flunkies…



…who get their kicks bullying “fashion retard” Tae (Yui Okada), to the point where they throw her entire desk off a balcony, narrowly missing Saki’s head.

This aggression, as the Dude says, will not stand, man, which leads Saki to pretty much cockpunch her entire class.

There is also kicking.



What follow is, aside from the part where Saki brains herself with her own yo-yo while chasing down a member of the chemistry club, incredibly uninteresting, so I’m just going to do my best to sum up.

As it turns out, Tae was involved with a fellow student who used the screen-name “Romeo” last year while she used “Juliet” for herself. The catch, however, is that “Romeo” was another girl, which marks what is possibly the first time a lesbian affair between two Japanese schoolgirls has been this monumentally boring. Anyway, like the ones from the Baz Luhrmann movie, this Romeo and Juliet were marked for tragedy, and after she was mopped half to death by upperclassmen (which is only slightly more surreal than it sounds), Romeo–or Kotomi (Erika Miyoshi) decided it’d be a good idea to blow herself up. She lives, but is catatonic in a hospital, continuing the absolute laff-riot that is Yo-Yo Girl Cop.

To make a long story short (too late!), Kotomi and Tae had a website for bullied kids with the eye-rolling name “Verona,” but after she blows herself up, the website’s shut down and replaced with Enola Gay (remember Enola Gay from like three subplots ago?), complete with a new, far more sinister Romeo that advises kids to blow themselves up, and he’s now organizing something pretty horrendous.

He’s also the school janitor, and it turns out that Reika is his sidekick. And further confusing matters is the fact that the mass suicide he’s orchestrating is all just a red herring: Just like Hans Gruber, he’s just creating a distraction while he pulls off a robbery elsewhere.

Still with me? Okay, good, because this is where it gets awesome, because this is where Saki puts on her crazy leather super-hero outfit that still has the crazy schoolgirl-uniform neckerchief and goes to fight the bad guys. Which means it’s time for Yo-Yo Girl Cop… versus Evil Yo-Yo Girl Cop!



Yes, it’s Reika, and it turns out she was a plant by Japan’s counter-terrorist secret police gone rogue, and she’s got a secret weapon yo-yo of her own that even Saki’s can’t match. Ladies and gentlemen… the dreaded Duncan Butterfly!



What follows is about four minutes of unmitigated radness, as Saki and Reika fight using a combination of karate kicks and Matrix-dodging each other’s yo-yos, complete with a scene where Saki is in imminent danger of being killed by a razor-bladed yo-yo swinging like a pendulum while she is trapped under a conveiently toppled pile of lead pipes.

It is, in short, the entire reason this movie was made.

But sadly, it can’t last, and even the following scene where Saki and her yo-yo battle Romeo and his katana can’t quite live up to it. Regardless, Saki eventually beats up enough people that it all works out okay, and Romeo ends up blowing himself up after removing a wig that he’s been inexplicably wearing for the entire movie up to that point.

There is one last high point, though, right before Saki takes on Romeo’s gang of thugs, where she gives what may in fact be the most ridiculous Magical Girl Action Challenge speech ever committed to film:

“Deported for who knows why…
From that wounded city, New York…
For some strange karma, now working for the cops.
I’d sworn I’d go it alone,
But for a friend I met by chance.
For a limited time only, Special Agent!



And in the name of the Moon, she will punish you!



Movie Review: Sukeban Deka

Japan is a weird place.

I realize that this doesn’t really come as a surprise to anyone. I mean, I’m talking about the same nation that gave us tentacle rape, octopus-based game shows, and the Transformers, so when it comes right down to it, “weird” may not actually cover it.

But with that weirdness comes a certain kind of magic. Magic that, for instance, allows for the existence of not one, but multiple movies with the premise of a teenage schoolgirl fighting crime with a yo-yo that can blow up helicopters. The latest, Yo-Yo Girl Cop won’t be released in the US until later on this month, but in the meantime, we can all enjoy its predecessor: 1988’s Sukeban Deka



Sukeban Deka–literally translated as “Juvenile Delinquent Girl Detective”–is essentially the Japanese version of 21 Jump Street, except that instead of sending Johnny Depp to high school to deal with teen pregnancy, it’s about the Dark Director recruiting a teenage girl to battle sinister high school-based terrorism by beating the living hell out of people with a huge metal yo-yo. It is, therefore, infinitely superior.



Said schoolgirl is Saki Asamiya (Yoko Minamino) who, at the ripe old age of 18, has retired from her previous life as a high school crimebuster in order to seek peace of mind as a relatively normal high school student. At this point, I feel that I should point out that Sukeban Deka is actually the movie version of a TV show of the same name (which was itself based on the original manga), which would explain why there’s a scene about a half hour into it where a bunch of teenage girls stand around giving your standard Sgt. Murtaugh “I’m gettin’ too old for this shit” speech. Anyway, Saki’s turned in her badge and yo-yo, but alas! It seems she’s just not fated for 19-hour days of studying to meet the strict entrance requirements for Tokyo University, a fact that becomes abundantly clear when she meets Kazuo, a student on the run from an evil conspiracy.

See, the sinister principal, Hattori, has taken over a high school known for taking in the worst, most badass delinquents in the city, and he’s brainwashing them with the goal of mobilizing them to stage a coup d’etat. That’s right, folks:




No, sadly, Freddie fails to make an appearance. The real threat for Japan comes from Sankou Gakuen High, an offshore reform school known as the Hell Castle with an extensive, possibly nuclear-powered underground level. No, really. According to Kazuo, it’s known to the public at large for Principal Hatorri’s “spartan education methods,” which one can only assume means there’s a lot of naked push-ups and kicking people into bottomless pits going on around there.

No sooner have Saki and Kazuo’s paths crossed when they’re ambushed on a bus by a couple of Hattori’s cronies, hell-bent on dragging Kazuo back to the school before he can warn the cops. A fight ensues, and it’s at this point that we see Saki’s deadliest technique: Her dreaded Bukkake Attack!



Oh calm down, she’s actually just using a fire extinguisher. But given that the bus suddenly rams a rather large piece of construction equipment, all the high-pressure fluids to the eyes can’t keep her from getting captured by the forces of evil.

After she’s captured, she’s immediately tied up and tortured with a defibrillator, because really, it just wouldn’t be a Japanese movie without a scene where a teenage girl was bound and electroshocked for a somewhat uncomfortable four minutes. She and Kazuo eventually manage to escape though, and at that point, Saki realizes that she has to take up the mantle–er, yo-yo, whatever–one more time to shut Hattori and his cronies down. Thus, she gets the band back together.

First up is Marble O-Kyo, who–as should be fairly obvious–fights using marbles. This is significantly less impressive than it sounds in each of the two times it actually happens. Then, it’s off to get some help from Megumi, the sister of Kazuo’s friend who is still being held by Hattori on the island, and to whom Kazuo was instructed to give a memento of her brother, which appears to be a little man made of string cheese.

Still, those two aren’t going to be enough, and so it’s off to the beach to meet up with Saki’s replacement: Yui Kazama: Sukeban Deka III, who scores bonus points for wearing one of those crazy metal arm-guard things that Sonny Chiba sports in The Street Fighter.



Incidentally, she’s my favorite, if only for the above shot.

Of course, before she can actually join the team, the girls (and Kazuo) are attacked on a beach by some guys in a helicopter, who quicken the pace of the movie by shooting Kazuo about thirty times and generally making a mess of things.

Then Saki blows them up with a yo-yo. Let’s all pause to reflect on how awesome that is for a moment, shall we?


“You just killed a helicopter with a yo-yo!”

“Yeah, I was out of bullets.”


Once that’s done, the shit is on, and after a pause to collect the Veronica-esque Yukino–who seems to serve no purpose whatsoever except to show up and collect her paycheck–the girls plan their seige on Hell Castle over a healthy breakfast, using an incredibly detailed crayon drawing of Hattori’s fortress:



Before they leave, though, Saki’s old police contact, Nishiwaki–although honestly, I’m not sure why I’m using everyone’s name, since I don’t really remember them myself and I just watched this thing two hours ago–shows up with a parting gift: A yo-yo that is “four times heavier than the one you have and can do 16 times as much damage.” In fact, the new Yo-Yo (which I believe can be found on page 244 of the Dungeonmaster’s Guide) is so powerful that she’ll have to wear a special brace to absorb the impact, and will still cause her bones to shatter if she uses it too much.

Not to spoil anything, but “too much” turns out to be about six times, which would seem to defeat the purpose. But hey, I don’t know what it’s like for a Juvenile Delinquent Yo-Yo Girl Detective on the mean streets of Tokyo.

Properly equipped, the girls put their plan into action, creeping stealthily onto the beaches around Hell Castle in breakaway pink-and-white jumpsuits, which are of course pulled off to reveal their schoolgirl outfits underneath in what I believe passes for a live-action magical girl transformation sequence.

Unfortunately, the mission is doomed to failure, thanks to the fact that Megumi has betrayed the team to Hattori in return for the chance to see her brother again, because apparently she’s forgotten that she’s sabotaging a rescue mission designed around her brother. The girls are captured and tired up–again, because without a scene of schoolgirls in bondage, this thing couldn’t possibly get past the studio execs-and faced with certain death at the hands of Principal Hattori.

At first, he’s going to leave it up to his subordiates, who have been trained to kill pineapples with deadly precision, but after Saki appeals to his ego, he decides to face her mano a schoolgirl, even going so far as to arm her with a flail. It is, however, a battle that Saki cannot win. Why?

Because Principal Hattori… Is a Cyborg:



So the girls are imprisoned, but thanks to Megumi switching sides again after she finds out that Principal Robot has had her brother lobotomized–or at least gotten someone to draw a little line with Xes on his forehead in Sharpie–they escape, and put their plan into action.

Which, for the record, is the same plan they were going to use before. The one that Hattori already knows every step of. And yet, the bad guys are taken completely by surprise.

Thus, the kids escape, Megumi sacrifices her life to save Saki, and Saki eventually hits Hattori hard enough with her Super Compound Metal Yo-Yo (16X Damage!)–a process that requires her to “cock” her arm, complete with gun noises–that everything works out. But not before Principal Cyborg delivers what is probably the single greatest line of the entire movie:



Truly, those are words to live by.