Saturday, 14 June 2014

Yo Yo Girl Cop

Why Oh Why Oh...?

Yo Yo Girl Cop
2006 Japan
Directed by Kenta Fukasaku
Toei DVD Region 2

When I saw this DVD going for just a few quid at a film fair last year, there was no way I was not going to buy it. It has a cover with a teenage girl wielding a yo-yo in support of the quite unbelievably awesome title, promising a film which would hopefully make good on its conceptual proposition of a pretty girl doing violent things with the aforementioned, weaponised toy. I also made an assumption that it would be in the same kind of vein of the kinds of over-the-top concept films Japan has been pumping out lately which have a certain sense of self awareness and over-the-top irony on their delivery. Films such as The Machine Girl, Tokyo Gore Police, Robo Geisha (reviewed here), Big Tits Zombie 3D (reviewed here), Chanbara Beauty (reviewed here), Chanbara Striptease (reviewed here), Vampire Girl Vs Frankenstein Girl (reviewed here)... and various others of that ilk.

However, I have to say that this film is a million miles away from those kind of, mostly, good time movies and, it has to be said, is curiously devoid of very much fun altogether.

Yo Yo Girl Cop is actually inspired by a successful Japanese manga called Sukeban Deka, from 1976, which was adapted into a TV show in the mid 1980s, followed by two late 1980s movies and some animated TV shows in the early 1990s. The title translates as Delinquent Girl Detective and, as far as I can make out, this is kind of a reboot sequel which works in a similar fashion as the Samuel L. Jackson Shaft sequel, in that the original actress playing the title character in the TV show plays the mother of the main protagonist here... who I think, and I may be losing something in translation, is the daughter of that original character, inadvertently inheriting the mantle of the former.

Either way, for a character with such an amazing legacy and with such a cool concept as special police agents who are armed with deadly yo-yos, I found the film curiously dull and, in a few places, fairly hard to follow.

The film starts off with an okay opening which, unfortunately, shows right away that the CGI effects are of the particularly low budget variety but it’s followed by an animated opening credit sequence that really kicks ass, as a silhouette of the title character performs cool moves with her yo-yo to a rock oriented score. Alas, when the credits sequence is over, so is the best part of the film. Instead of playing to the utter ridiculousness of the nonsensical concept, which maybe would have been preferable, the film instead tries to approach the subject matter with a grittier, realistic attitude. And that’s fine... it’s as valid an option as any to make a drama come to life. Except that, in this case, the story and the way it’s delivered in a disjointed and, frankly, uninteresting manner makes for a very dull affair.

The one thing which was keeping me watching was the obvious hope that, at some point, Yo-Yo Girl Cop was going to get her “special equipment” out and make good on the promise of the title of the film but, alas, the spinning toy only comes out for a few seconds at a time until the final showdown sequence of the film, where she “tools up” and you start to think to yourself... finally.

Instead, the few bits of yo-yo oriented action in this last sequence are fragmentary, uninspiring and , for the most part, badly lit. It really does nothing much to make up for the seam of teenage angst the film is trying so desperately to mine throughout the running time, which seems to emphasis the negative traits of “grown ups” and the hipness of being a teenager. Played by “J-pop sensation” Aya Matsura, or so the DVD cover tells me, the title character is tolerable and, despite her constant negative attitude to the world of adulthood, may have been an interesting protagonist to journey with. However, the people and situations she finds herself with or in are basically either dull or clichéd and the bits which don’t quite make sense and have a go at whetting your appetite to find the answer to their set up, are lamely tied up and ultimately lead to a villain who, despite the perpetual build up throughout the movie, is much less of a personality than you might reasonably be lead to suspect would turn up and... well... lets just say I had absolutely no interest, by the films eventual denouement, in who lived and died in this affair... and on which side of the law they found themselves, for that matter.

I don’t quite know the audience this movie is aimed at but, I’m pretty certain it’s not me. The terrific idea of an undercover cop who settles her arguments with the help of her lethally dangerous yo-yo is a great starting point for a fun filled, action packed, adrenalin pumped movie... unfortunately, this particular film isn’t that at all and I suspect it would be better received, perhaps, by an audience who is more familiar with the original material and adaptations. And that’s certainly not me, or anybody I know, for that matter. I’m not sure how well Yo Yo Girl Cop did when it got released on DVD over here and in the USA but I’m guessing the cheap price I got it for is reflective of its performance in English speaking countries. Certainly, I wouldn’t inflict this film on people, even if they had an interest in yo-yos or teenage schoolgirls... it’s just too dull. Not one I could, in all conscience, recommend to anyone.

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