Saturday, April 04, 2009

A vision of punkdom straight from a comic

Punks, in their various post-Elvis incarnations, have been a feature of Japanese society — and films — for almost half a century. More recent, though, is the vogue for what might be called punks-brawl-for-fun films, which celebrate the joy and glory of smashing heads together with your four or 40 best pals.

Drop Rating: (3.5 out of 5)
Star Star Star Star Star
On the warpath: Kazuki Namioka, Toru Wakatsuki, Hiro Mizushima, Masahito Sakamoto, Yuji Ayabe and Hiroki Narimiya in "Drop" ©"DROP" SEISAKU IINKAI

Director: Hiroshi Shinagawa
Running time: 122 minutes
Language: Japanese
Opens March 20, 2009
[See Japan Times movie listing]

One progenitor was "Be Bop High School," a long-running manga by Kazuhiro Kiuchi that focused on punks at a bottom-of-the-barrel private high school and their cool, if comic, dustups. The manga spawned everything from feature films to pachinko games.

The hero of "Drop," an autobiographical first feature by comedian Hiroshi Shinagawa, is a fan of manga much like "Be Bop High School" (the film is based on a best-selling manga that Shinagawa writes and artist Dai Suzuki draws). Though his weapon of choice is his mouth, not his fists, Hiroshi (Hiroki Narimiya) transfers from his peace-loving private junior high to a gang-ridden public school so he can get in on the action.

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