Sailor Suit and Machine Gun (review, comparison etc.)+ 4K BD

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Sailor Suit and Machine Gun (review, comparison etc.)+ 4K BD

Unread postby HungFist » 03 Mar 2007, 13:20

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Sailor fuku to kikanju (1981)

Probably the most important – and best – idol film of all time, Sailor Suit and Machine Gun was producer Haruki Kadokawa’s final breakthrough in the idol film genre. It was a bit ironic that while the traditional studio loyalty among filmmakers in had come to an end in the late 70’s, only a few years later Kadokawa gained almost exclusive rights to the new generation of idol actresses. Noriko Watanabe, Tomoyo Harada, and most importantly Hiroko Yakushimaru, replaced the great Momoe Yamaguchi who had just retired from show business at the age of 21.

Yakushimaru – commonly know just as Hiroko – and usually referred as super-idol rather than idol, made her cinema debut in 1978 when she was just 13 years old. She played the leading female role in Kadokawa’s slightly megalomaniac modern action film Never Give Up, starring Ken Takura. Yakushimaru’s real breakthrough came in 1981 when she starred in Hausu director Nobuhiko Obayashi’s fantasy film School in the Crosshairs and later the same year in Shinji Somai’s Sailor Suit and Machine Gun.

Somai, sadly ignored in the west, is perhaps the best Japanese director of the 1980’s. His directorial was Tonda Couple (1980), a small drama-comedy starring Hiroki Yakushimaru. Sailor Suit and Machine Gun was Somai’s second film. Yakushimaru plays Izumi Hoshi, a normal high school girl who inherits a small yakuza gang. The leader of the gang had passed away and named his nephew - Izumi’s father – as successor. Unfortunately Izumi’s father dies in a traffic accident before he even dicovers of his new appointment. According to the yakuza code the position now transfers to the only remaining blood relative – Izumi.

On surface Sailor Suit and Machine Gun is a discreet parody of the yakuza film genre. Later in the 80’s idol films and television shows came to lean heavily on action, with Toei’s Sukeban Deka dominating the so called High School Action genre. Sailor Suit and Machine Gun does not follow this formula. Despite the high flying concept Somai is far more interested in characters and quiet little scenes. There are several magnificent moments where all action nearly freezes – including the machine gun finale which is not only very short, but also the only scene where the film’s title becomes reality. The adrenaline seeking Ryuhei Kitamura generation will be severly disappointed and left wondering where all the action is.

The more outrageous moments are in fact one of the the film’s weak points. Somai is not entirely comfortable with a screenplay that features over-the-top supporting characters, such as a maniac drug lord called Fatty (Rentaro Mikuni). Some of the actors, especially Shinpei Hayashiya who plays a member of Izumi’s gang, also play their role in too loud volume which doesn’t go well together with Somai’s perceptive and slightly arthouse-esque directing. Nevertheless, the core idea – a high school girl becoming a yakuza leader – is undeniably very memorable and one of the reasons why the film became so popular.

One of the more suprising and probably confusing to many viewers sequences is a short sex scene between Tsunehiko Watase and Yuki Kazamatsuri. This scene briefly features ”black bar blocking the view” censorship that has accompanied Japanese erotic cinema since the dawn of woman. This scene was most likely intended as a reference to Kazamatsuri’s career; she was a regular actress in Nikkatsu’s pink films in the early 80’s. International audiences have most likely seen her in Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol. 1, where she appears night club host. Her performance in Sailor Suit and Machine Gun is somewhat adequate, but outshadowed by Yakushimaru and action film veteran Watase.

Director Somai’s most important tool has always been his camera. The director has great skill in planning ane executing long and complicated takes. Although in 1981 Somai’s skills were not yet fully developed, Sailor Suit and Machine Gun features an excessive amount of impressive camerawork. There is a large number of long takes, including a classic sequence that takes the characters from the streets to a shrine and ultimately to the other side of the district riding a motorcycle. This six minute scene was completed without a single edit.

The 17 year old Hiroko Yakushimaru is at her best in Sailor Suit and Machine Gun. Her acting skills improved later – at least in the eyes of critics and the Japanese Academy Award commitee that nominated her as the best actress of the year in 1984 for her role in Tragedy of W – but Yakushimaru’s acting has rarely been as fresh and enjoyable as it is in Sailor Suit and Machine Gun. This film also marked the beginning of her hugely successful pop-star career that produced more than 100 songs. The theme song for Sailor Suit and Machine Gun is among her best. It is heard in the film just before the magnificent final scene, and is followed by one of the most memorable ending lines.

After its hugely successful release in 1981, Kadokawa released a 130 minute ”Complete Version” in 1982. This longer cut installs 18 minutes of additional footage into the film. Some of the additions make the narrative more fluent - and there’s an important scene featuring Hiroko drying her hair - but the Complete Version isn’t really a better movie than the original cut. 130 min is slightly too much for this movie, and there’s a long sequence where Izumi nearly gets raped that feels out of place. Also in 1982 a Sailor Suit and Machine Gun television series was aired on Fuji TV. This series featured the future star Tomoyo Harada in her fist acting role. Incidentally, her next work was a television version of School in the Crosshairs, an adaptation of yet another a Hiroko Yakushimaru movie. Sailor Suir and Machine Gun returned to TV screens one more time in 2006 when TBS broadcast the second small screen adaptation, this time with Masami Nagasawa playing the leading role.

DVD availability:

Theatrical Cut (112 min):
- IVL R3 HK (english and chinese subtitles)
- Kadokawa R2J (no subtitles)
- Kadokawa Heroine Box Set R2J (with The Little Girl Who Conquered Time and Kekkon Annai Mystery) (no subtiles)

Complete Version (130 min):
- Hiroko Yakushimaru Premium DVD Box R2J (no subtitles)
Last edited by HungFist on 22 Jul 2009, 20:41, edited 6 times in total.

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Unread postby HungFist » 03 Mar 2007, 13:21

Top: IVL R3 HK (112 min theatrical cut)
Bottom: Kadokawa R2J (130 min complete version)

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Neither transfer is ideal. The Kadokawa dvd is too dark, losing detail in dark scenes. IVL is the opposite, it's too bright and losing detail in bright shots. There are notable differences in colours, too.

Technically Kadokawa's dvd is much better work that IVL’s poorly compressed dvd-5. See the fourth capture for difference. Both dvds are bare bones (Kadokawa features trailer and filmographies, IVL comes with trailer and bonus trailer) but while the Kadokawa release takes 8 BG disc space, the IVL dvd is only 3½ GB. The Kadokawa dvd is also progressive, unlike IVL.

I believe the Kadokawa 112 minute - which I don't own myself - version features the same or almost same print as the IVL dvd. However, based on my experience of other Kadokawa and IVL dvds, I would dare to guess it's progressive and features far superior encoding.
Last edited by HungFist on 16 Jul 2009, 21:18, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postby HungFist » 03 Mar 2007, 13:21

130 minute complete version vs. 112 minute 1981 theatrical version

I went through the whole film to find each new scene... and then when I later entered the chapter selection I saw ”NEW SCENE” written in english under each new scene. D’oh... Here’s the six new scenes listed with approximate durations.

Scene 1 (2:50)
The scene where Hiroko returns home and finds out her appartment has been put upside down is longer. First she finds sunglasses from the floor, then he and the detective walk outside and finally go to a cafe to talk about her dad. The first part (approx 70 seconds) is shot with a single take.

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Scene 2 (1:15)
After Hiroko’s ”crane punishment” scene there’s a new scene showing her coming out from the shower. Any footage of Hiroko drying her hair makes a film automatically better, so this is a good addition.

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Scene 3 (0:30)
A few minutes later, after the rooftop grave/memorial scene there’s a short scene showing Hiroko and and the young gang member crossing/walking the street. This is a nice little addition, partly thanks to the music.

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Scene 4 (9:38 )
Right after the scene in the park ( -”just a substitute” ) comes the biggest change. First we see Hiroko rolling in bed having a nightmare. In the morning she has a quick chat with the gang, and then goes out to meet a gangster alone. She almost gets raped but is saved by Mayumi. One of Hiroko’s gang members meet her outside and carry her home. Finally there’s a scene in the morning of Hiroko telling everything’s alright (I catch some dialogue, yeah). I like the first and the last minutes of the scene but not the attempted rape part. Not nice to see that happening to Hiroko, and she also gets into trouble too many times during the film

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Scene 5 (3:14)
When Hiroko is kidnapped near the end and brought to the villains place, there’s a new scene where she’s left alone to wait for the ganster (Mayumi’s dad) to arrive. Later when the gangster arrives she tries to explain that she doesn’t know anything about the heroin (I think). I like the first half of this scene (the conversation is needless)

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Scene 6 (1:13)
The dinner scene with Mayumi’s father is longer. The theatrical version cuts out once the detective leaves, but the longer cut shows an additional dialogue scene before Hiroko leaves the table. I think this addition was not really needed.

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Bottom line; although I think slightly prefer the longer version (haven’t watched it yet) none of the additions is very remarkable in my opinion.

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Unread postby HungFist » 03 Mar 2007, 13:32

Hiroko Yakushimaru Premium DVD Box - post 1/2

Next up is Hiroko Yakushimaru Premium DVD Box, which is the only way to see the longer cut of Sailor-fuku. It’s a 70€ purchase but if you want it you should get it right now because it won’t be available for much longer. I think it’s officially already out of print, but amazon still has it. Each four dvds are packed in individual amaray cases. Films included are Sailor-fuku to kikanju complete version, Main Theme and Tonda Couple (also directed by Shinji Somai). The fourth amaray case includes Hiroko Yakushimaru Kanpekiban bonus dvd. A 1/6 scale sailor suit is also packed inside the case. The suit is kinda useless because it’s so small (hehe) but it’s still a unique extra, something that is sure to catch people’s attention.

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Sailor Suit and Machine Gun(1981)
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Main Theme (1984)
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Tonda Couple (1980)
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Movie reviews:

Tonda Couple (1980)
Tonda Couple, which was Shinji Somai’s first film, turned out to be just the kind of sweet and innocent drama/comedy that I was expecting. It’s often silly and never very deep but it’s a lot of fun, even without subtitles. In fact, I nearly starved while watching this (and not because of the R2J prices) because I was very hungry but way too excited to take a break and go get food. Well, I got my chance after the halfway, which leads us to the problem part. While the first half is excellent, the second is notably worse. Somai gives more room to the supporting characters we get less scenes with the main couple together. The movie doesn’t exactly turn bad, just less great. There’s still many good scenes and I like the ending.

Hiroko Yakushimaru and Shingo Tsurumi are excellent choises for the leading roles with both doing great job. Tonda Couple never turns into a Hiroko show like Sailor-fuku did, instead both leads are equally charming. The film is also loaded with Somai’s trademark long takes... even more so than the other Somai films I’ve seen. I really love these long takes and it’s great to see there’s a director who doesn’t believe in fast editing and hasty pacing. Many scenes and shots featured here are also similiar to what Somai would later use in his other films. The one-take kitchen scene for example remided me of Hiroko wandering in her appartment in Sailor-fuku, and there’s several nice single shots that Somai re-used in Taifu Club.

The dvd included in the box set is apparently identical to the old Toho dvd. How a Toho film ended up into a Kadokawa box set I don’t know. This is the 120 minute director’s cut (the shorter cut, which is not available on dvd as far as I know, runs approx. 106 minutes). The non-anamorphic transfer is unfortunately far from good. It’s very soft and some scenes are strangely hazy, like extreme ghosting but so visible that it looks like the characters are leaving a mark into air when they move. You get used to it though and the transfer quality didn’t distract me from the movie after the first five minutes. There’s no other serious problems, the colours seem okay and I don’t recall any major print damage. I viewed the film with all sharpness settings set to maximum and without zooming the image in (leaving black bars on all four sides). There are no subtitles, extras or menus.

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yes, that is Sanada. Couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw him.
Last edited by HungFist on 03 Mar 2007, 14:06, edited 4 times in total.

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Unread postby HungFist » 03 Mar 2007, 13:34

Hiroko Yakushimaru Premium DVD Box - post 2/2

Main Theme (1984)
The best transfer and the worst film. Oh well. This 1984 drama starring Hiroko and the lady who played Mayumi in Sailor-fuku mainly suffers from the total lack of originality. There just isn’t anything special about it. The story of a girl who develops a crush for a young magician has some potential but the results are mixed. The plot is mostly a mess and there’s some really dumb scenes here and there. It’s thankfully not overly emotional, instead it’s just emotionless. That might work if the director had more more artistic approach, which he doesn’t. As a whole, Main Theme differs very little from any average 80’s youth drama.

Then the good things. There’s an exceptional amount of incredible Hiroko beauty for display here. She even wears a swimming suit, haha... She was about my age by the time the movie was made so now I don’t even have to feel ashamed for drooling after her. She also performs 2 (!) songs during the movie. Aside Hiroko the cinematography is the best things about the movie. While nothing truly special it does capture the beautiful landscapes very nicely. The film tends to be at it’s best when the camera is kept moving and music is played on the background. These scenes, while perfectly mainstream, are solid and enjoyable work. I was slightly impressed by how steady the camerawork was even in moving shots.

Despite all the critisism I did get through the film rather painlessly. There’s a 15 minute segment around the halfway that is really weak, and then there’s these single bad scenes here and there but if you’re a big fan of Hiroko then it may be worth the effort. You’ll just have to settle for a little less than usual. The dvd by Kadokawa is excellent and the progressive transfer does justice to Hiroko’s beauty. The image is simply gorgeous and features next to none edge enhancement. The only extras are the theatrical trailer and a 17 minute begind the scenes featurette. The dvd is encoded with a high bitrate and the whole dvd file including the extras (19 min) takes 7,49 GB of size.

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Behind the scenes
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And finally, Hiroko Yakushimaru kanpekiban bonus dvd
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The dvd contains two features. The first one is ’Sensational Hiroko’ music video which was created to promote Sailor-fuku. It’s basically just three guys (I recongize at least one of them from the movie) singing ”senzeezonal HIROKKO” with short clips of Hiroko edited in. It’s silly as hell but works like a drug. Watch it a few times and you won’t be able to live without it anymore.

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The main feature is a 43 minute interview with Hiroko. She discusses about her Kadokawa films and singing career (I think). Plenty of great behind the scenes stills are shown during the interview but unfortunately there isn’t any behind the scenes video footage. The stills however are so great you don’t really miss it. Hiroko seem like very nice person and it’s a pleasure to listen to her talk even if you can’t really understand what she’s saying. She’s also still very beautiful. That’s a great thing about japanese idols, they start their career so young that they stay beautiful, haha. Hiroko was at the peak of her career long before I was even born, so you’d think someone like that would be long retired or even dead by now, but she’s only 42 years old (much younger in that that interview though since the box set was released back in 2001).

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(director shinji somai in the middle)

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Last edited by HungFist on 04 Mar 2007, 19:12, edited 3 times in total.

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Unread postby HungFist » 03 Mar 2007, 13:42

Since Sailor-fuku and Hiroko were a huge in the 80’s, Kadokawa and other companies did their best to cash on it. I’ll try to cover (only) some of those products here, just to give you a basic idea.

There was TV show version in the early 80’s starring Tomoyo Harada (the super cute girl from ’Toki o kakeru shôjo/The Little Girl Who Conquered Time’ and ’Early Spring Story’) but to best of my knowledge this series has not been released on dvd. Last year there was a new TBS version of the series starring Masami Nagasawa and Ken Otaga. This series was recently release on R2J dvd.

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DVD box set
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Official Visual Book
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Soundtrack CD/Single/Standard Edition
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Soundtrack album
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Products directly related to the original Sailor fuku to kikanju film include soundtrack cd’s, books and some very neat looking posters.
The following is a collection of pictures stolen around the net:

Sailor-fuku to kikanju poster
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Kadokawa VHS
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Soundtrack cd
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LP record
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Photo book
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Sailor-fuku book
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Hiroko was also a famous pop singer so if you like her music you can buy some of her cds. Many recent releases are widely available from japanese retailers like amazon and cdjapan. Note that cdjapan’s japanese site neowing has short samples of many songs featured on cds. Aside cd’s she’s also released some photobooks. More stolen pics:

Some of Hiroko’s cds:

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Songs by female idols (including Hiroko)

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薬師丸ひろ子 愛蔵版写真集 フォトメモアール Photobook
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this is something I’d love to own.

Most of her movies seem to be available in Japan. She’s still very active in the movie business and has appeared in such recent films as the 12 time ’japanese oscar’ winner Always - Sunset on Third Street and Seijun Suzuki’s (that’s right, he’s still alive) Operetta tanuki goten. Movies released with english subtitles include Never Give Up (1978) (R1 Adness), G.I Samurai (1979) (R1 Adness, R2 Optimum, R3 IVL), Sailor Suit and Machine Gun (1981)(R3 IVL), Story of the Detective (1983) (R3 IVL), Legend of the Eight Samurai (1983) (R1 Adness, R2 Adness + IVL is supposed to release it in the future), Tragedy of W (1984) (R3 IVL), Princess Raccoon (2005) (R3 Mei Ah and the upcoming R1) and Always - Sunset on Third Street (2005) (R2J Vap + the Thai port). IVL was also supposed to release Nerawareta gakuen (The Aimed School) (1981) but it was one of the many titles that got postponed. Lets hope for the best.
Last edited by HungFist on 03 Mar 2007, 14:02, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postby HungFist » 03 Mar 2007, 13:55

I realized some of you may have different rezolutions and the text may not fit the screen. I'll try to edit my posts so that everyone can read them without problems.

EDIT: just tried 1024 x 768 and everything except my lovely avatar did fit the screen. No need for edits. If someone has problems let me know

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Unread postby thelostdragon » 03 Mar 2007, 14:15

Dude... that's incredible.
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Unread postby HungFist » 03 Mar 2007, 14:28

thelostdragon wrote:Dude... that's incredible.


Mainly a summary :lol:

But thanks. It took some time to write.

If I could understand japanese and had more in depth knowledge, the review would be so much longer.

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Unread postby captainjoe » 03 Mar 2007, 16:31

That must have taken a very long time. Very in-depth with the reviews and comparisons. One of the best I've seen on this forum :D
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Unread postby grim_tales » 03 Mar 2007, 17:30

Great review Hung :D
Congrats. Pity I don't understand much Japanese so not sure if I'd buy it, but anyway.. :lol: :wink:

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Unread postby BiscLimpkit » 17 Mar 2007, 00:06

Thanks for this Hung, very much appreciated. I have the J-dorama ready to watch but will probably buy the IVL disc to watch the theatrical version.

A trip to CD Wow I think....
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Unread postby BiscLimpkit » 26 Mar 2007, 22:52

Sailor Suit and Machine Gun 3.25/5

HungFist wrote:The very first scene in the film however is not very convincing. Poor acting and simply not much to hang on to.


I'll say. The decision to become yakuza leader was a tad rushed.

HungFist wrote:Many of Somai’s trademark long takes are also very impressive.


Agreed - they were absolutely mesmerising. I could watch the motorbike scene on loop. The only other film with such fantastic long takes has got to be Tom Yum Goong.

HungFist wrote:While the film is filled with great scenes there’s also some occational roughness. There’s for example a certain landmine episode which is a total failure, even if it exists for a reason. In fact, many of the scenes featuring interaction with the other gangs and supporting characters are not very good.


Yeah I found too many unnecesarily messy chapters. From your description however, it seems that the complete version fills in some of the gaps.

HungFist wrote:A subject like this could easily turn into a mess but thankfully Somai keeps things under control. The machine gun scene near the end is a good example. Almost any other director would’ve turned it into a mindless shootout, Somai instead has created one of the most magical moments I’ve seen recently.


Ugh I disagree on this one. I thought the machine gun scene was horrendously underwhelming. Whilst I agree that light-hearted humour featured predominantly in this film, you can't have a yakuza movie without venturing into some level of darkness. The infamous machine gun scene was over too quickly - even in slow motion. Ok I'm not asking for absolute bloodshed (as that would contradict from the sweet innocent nature of the child) but a little bit of choreography would've been nice.

Overall I thought Sailor Suit and Machine Gun was a neat satirical take on the yakuza genre. It has its moments, thanks to Hiroko Yakushimaru's bubbly performance, but suffers from a disjointed plot. The whole heroine swindle didn't really connect well.

Now I'm gonna check out the 7-part J-dorama. See what that's all about. Kaikan!!!
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Unread postby HungFist » 27 Mar 2007, 10:49

I’m sorry but I’m going to have to disagree on everything :D

BiscLimpkit wrote:
HungFist wrote:A subject like this could easily turn into a mess but thankfully Somai keeps things under control. The machine gun scene near the end is a good example. Almost any other director would’ve turned it into a mindless shootout, Somai instead has created one of the most magical moments I’ve seen recently.


Ugh I disagree on this one. I thought the machine gun scene was horrendously underwhelming. Whilst I agree that light-hearted humour featured predominantly in this film, you can't have a yakuza movie without venturing into some level of darkness. The infamous machine gun scene was over too quickly - even in slow motion. Ok I'm not asking for absolute bloodshed (as that would contradict from the sweet innocent nature of the child) but a little bit of choreography would've been nice.


Uhm, how do you choreograph a shootout where no one gets hit?

A long shootout wouldn't make any sense. She no yakuza, she's still the same girl she was in the beginning of the film. Although she's become the head of a small gang she never turned into a yakuza herself. In the shootout scene she finally lets it go for a second. She pulls the trigger because she want to feel the freedom (of being a yakuza, being able to do things normal people can't do, and also feel the power). That feeling was Kaikan. And the whole scene is about that feeling, not actions. What exactly happens there is not important. Also, there's no way she'd ever kill anyone. That's why aimed at the table and the floor, and not any person. It wouldn't make any sense if she suddenly started killing people there.

BiscLimpkit wrote:Whilst I agree that light-hearted humour featured predominantly in this film, you can't have a yakuza movie without venturing into some level of darkness.


I don’t think the film is really about yakuza. The film is about a girl who’s put in charge of yakuza but never becomes one herself. If she ever commited an actual yakuza act (kill someone for example) then there would be no return. Then it’d be about a girl who becomes a yakuza, and since normal high school girls don’t turnt into yakuza overnight we’d have a very different kind movie here with major changes in content and storyline. Leave that stuff to Miike.

* there's of course a lot of satire on yakuza genre and yakuza in general but it's really just a side thing. Something where the story take place. But by no means this is a yakuza film in my opinion. In my dvd collection the film is listed under 'drama and comedy', not 'yakuza and crime' where the fukasaku films and the likes are.

BiscLimpkit wrote:The only other film with such fantastic long takes has got to be Tom Yum Goong.


Sorry but I have to disagree once again. The long shot in TYM isn’t nearly as impressive as the one in Sailor-fuku. In TYG the quality of action goes down immediately when the shot begins. It’s a great techical achievement and I like it but you can see it so obviously that they were only trying to get a record take and all other elements were allowed to suffer in the process. The park/motorcycle scene in Sailor-fuku is soo amazing because it feels so natural and fluid from start to finish. Like I said, the first time I saw it I didn’t even pay attention to the fact it was shot with one take. In TYG you notice immediately that it's not the most natural way to shoot the scene. Johnnie To’s Breaking News suffers from the same thing, although that shot is an impressive one too.

BiscLimpkit wrote:I'll say. The decision to become yakuza leader was a tad rushed.


How? Three men were about to run to their deaths unless she said something. She hardly had time to think there.

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Unread postby BiscLimpkit » 28 Mar 2007, 19:00

HungFist wrote:In the shootout scene she finally lets it go for a second.


That's exactly it. I can't see how she could feel "kaikan" in such a short space of time. I didn't buy it. I didn't want her to kill anyone. I did mention that it would contradict from the sweet girl image. But that scene to me was over too quickly. Minimum impact, especially emotionally. Not impressed.

HungFist wrote:I don’t think the film is really about yakuza. The film is about a girl who’s put in charge of yakuza but never becomes one herself. If she ever commited an actual yakuza act (kill someone for example) then there would be no return. Then it’d be about a girl who becomes a yakuza, and since normal high school girls don’t turnt into yakuza overnight we’d have a very different kind movie here with major changes in content and storyline. Leave that stuff to Miike.


Yeah I'd agree with that.

HungFist wrote:Sorry but I have to disagree once again. The long shot in TYM isn’t nearly as impressive as the one in Sailor-fuku.


Well I thought it was - certainly as you say, from a technical standpoint. Although I agree that the emotional quality of Sailor Suit's was considerably stronger. Loved both basically.

HungFist wrote:How? Three men were about to run to their deaths unless she said something. She hardly had time to think there.


Firstly, I just realised that I got the "first scene" wrong. Sorry about that. But on the subject of the aforementioned scene, any sane individual would've just pegged it. But then, young Izumi was going through a sensitive time.... nah I still don't buy it.
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Unread postby Knetan » 01 Apr 2007, 09:59

hey,

trying to challenge muldoon of Asian DVD Guide concerning in depth reviews covering ALL aspects? :) Dedication of this kind is always admireable.

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Unread postby HungFist » 01 Apr 2007, 11:47

Knetan wrote:hey,

trying to challenge muldoon of Asian DVD Guide concerning in depth reviews covering ALL aspects? :) Dedication of this kind is always admireable.


Haha, no, not really. But thanks. He (and Jeroen, too) is my grand master. Would not dare to challenge him. What I do I do out of fun, when I have free time and nothing better to do.

The whole thing was that I wrote a small review of the film elsewhere when I got the HK disc, then I decided that should get the box set as well to see how the longer cut differs. I couldn't find any info about the differences so I though I should write something, people might find it useful... And since I now have two versions of the film I might just as well do a picture comparison... and post an improved version of my old review too since I already wrote one. And now there's so much stuff that there's no point in stopping now. Lets review the other content of the box set, too. I mean, it's nowhere near a cheap purchase and you can't get the longer cut of Sailor without getting the two films that come in the box set, too. And lets add a little bit of Hiroko and Sailor phenomena coverage to make the "review" look more complete.

Another thing was that since Muldoon already wrote this and that about subject I though I should add enough stuff of my own (and still cover the main things) to justify the existense of this topic.

Not the first and not the last time this happens. I started writing a one paragraph mini-review of Somai's Ohikkoshi a few days ago... but it turned into a three paragraph review by accident. Decided to add a short dvd review to the end... and screencaps so people can see what I'm taking about. And since I mentioned the extras already lets take a few bonus material caps as well... and add dvd cover art scans to the end...

And I'm serious, it was meant to be a mini review :lol:

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Unread postby HungFist » 16 Jul 2009, 21:35

I have now updated the first post with a new review.

But have no fears, I'm no Lucas. Below you can find the original review I wrote 2 years ago. I think the new one is a bit better :D

I’m by no means any sort of expert when it comes to Sailor-fuku to kikanju and Hiroko Yakushimaru... in fact a few weeks ago I had not even seen the film. But now I have, I liked it and due to lack of proper activities I decided to gather some information into one topic and write something about the film itself. There’s gonna be quite a lot of pictures, dial-up users don’t bother. First, the movie review:

Sailor fuku to kikanju (1981)

Sailor fuku to kikanju is one of the biggest japanese cult films of the 80’s. It was directed by Shinji Somai (who’d later direct
the best japanese movie of all time; Taifu Club) and stars the 17 year old super idol Hiroko Yakushimaru as a high school student who inherits a small yakuza gang from her dying father. The very first scene in the film however is not very convincing. Poor acting and simply not much to hang on to. Hiroko is nowhere to be seen and Somai’s talent I don’t know where. But once we get through that one scene the rest is mostly great. Just don’t expect any Taifu Club kind of perfection and get used to the idea of more light weight comedy and drama. There’s plenty of Hiroko goddess here and I’d be surprised if someone doesn’t turn into a fan of hers watching this movie. Many of Somai’s trademark long takes are also very impressive. I especially love the 3 minute shot taking place at Hiroko’s appartment.

A subject like this could easily turn into a mess but thankfully Somai keeps things under control. The machine gun scene near the end is a good example. Almost any other director would’ve turned it into a mindless shootout, Somai instead has created one of the most magical moments I’ve seen recently. There’s also some very impressive single shots spread around the film which of best I won’t spoil with screen caps. A special mention goes to the motorcycle scene which goes on for almost six minutes without a single cut. It’s so well executed that it took me two viewings to realized that what begins as a long dialogue scene in a park, and ends at the other side of the district after a motorcycle ride is actually all shot with one single take. Unbelievable.

While the film is filled with great scenes there’s also some occational roughness. There’s for example a certain landmine episode which is a total failure, even if it exists for a reason. In fact, many of the scenes featuring interaction with the other gangs and supporting characters are not very good. Somai tends to be at his best when he’s left alone with just a few key characters and doesn’t have to hurry explaining anything. For example scenes of Hiroko wandering in her appartment are wonderful, and so is the long moment near the end when she stops at the street corner. She’s very good in the leading role, giving a much better performance than you’d expect to find from a movie like this. It’s ultimately her performance and Somai’s direction that raise this film above any normal genre productions. The ending is also great with Hiroko providing another catchy theme song and Somai taking care of the visuals. The very last lines of dialogue are especially memorable.


The old, less than great Tonda Couple and Main Theme reviews are still intact. Maybe I will find time to write better and more useful reviews of those films some day.

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Unread postby diceman » 17 Jul 2009, 09:30

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This is arguably the best CD-Set of her to buy, because it contains all the important and great songs. Just the title-song of "Sailor Fuku to Kikanju" is only included as a slightlly inferior Radio-Edit, a bit dry on the beat, and all. To get the original movie-version (which has a way better flow and more focus on melody), you also need the "Love Collection", which, as far as I know, is the only CD which contains the original version from the movie. Luckily I got my copy before it went OOP. :D

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"Sailor Fuku to Kikanju" is a movie I gradually got to like more each time I re-watched it. First I was a bit irritated, but now I love it just as much as Hung Fist; mainly for the same reasons. Great review, by the way. As always. And the only reason I still drop by here every now and then. The new TBS-Series is supposed to be pretty bad, though (from what I've heard).

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Re: Sailor Suit and Machine Gun (review, comparison etc.)

Unread postby HungFist » 27 Jul 2009, 19:03

Sailor Suit and Machine Gun (2006) (TV)

Shinji Somai’s all time great idol film Sailor Suit and Machine Gun (based on Jiro Akagawa’s novel) was followed by two television adaptations, first by Fuji TV in 1982 (with Tomoya Harada in the lead role) and then by TBS in 2006. The new version consists of seven episodes, each running 45 minutes. Masami Nagasawa stars as Izumi, a normal high school put in charge of a 5 man yakuza gang when her father dies and no other blood relatives are found. She tries to keep the men out of trouble while another gang is making attacks against them. This is the basic pattern that is repeated over several episodes to the point of frustration. Visual output is modern and occasionally cartoonish, lacking the merits of the original film adaptation.

The few strengths include some great humour, interesting Asakusa setting, and terrific theme song which of course is a new version of the original theme performed by Hiroko Yakushimaru. Nagasawa fares ok on her own right, especially when wearing glasses, but any comparisons to Yakushimaru would be pointless. The most famous actors appearing in the show are Ken Ogata, whose talent is not utilized, and Kyoko Koizumi, who brings down every scene she’s in. Tsutsumi Shinichi, who plays Sakuma, is luckier. His character is decently written, unlike the other gang members who only exist to bring in cheap drama. It is describing that while in Somai’s film each death became as a surprise, or was revealed to the viewer only afterwards, the new television show builds up for inevitable tragic deaths and spends entire episodes weeping after the fallen friends.

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Re: Sailor Suit and Machine Gun (review, comparison etc.)

Unread postby HungFist » 16 Jun 2012, 05:46

Don Brown:

TOKYO SONATA producer @yukiekito has been prodding me to say Kurosawa Kiyoshi was an assistant director on SAILOR SUIT AND MACHINE GUN. According to @miyuki0705, you can even spot him in the scene where Yakushimaru Hiroko goes postal in a yakuza boss's office.

- https://twitter.com/ryuganji/status/213500352060866561
- https://twitter.com/ryuganji/status/213501654698442752

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Re: Sailor Suit and Machine Gun (review, comparison etc.)

Unread postby HungFist » 06 Dec 2014, 18:08

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Sailor Suit and Machine Gun: Kadokawa 4K Scanning Blu-Ray: Post 1/2

Here's a brief look at the new Blu-Ray released by Kadokawa in December 2014. Not to be confused with the earlier BD that came out a few years ago. I didn't sit down and watch the entire film, so this is just first impressions.

Video
Well, this is certainly an improvement. The film came out on remastered DVD and BD a few years ago, but judging by the screen captures the BD seemed quite underwhelming, possibly even an upscale. This new BD comes from a 4K scan and looks nice to my bad eyes. It does have a bit more grain that I expected, and I'm not so sure if all of that is film grain (see the motorcycle cap in the next post) but anyway...

The disc includes both the theatrical (111 min) and the extended (130 min) versions. The new scenes are integrated into the film via seamless branching, but at least on my PS3 there's a small pause after (yes, after, not before) each new scene. That's quite irritating if you want to view the longer version. The picture quality seems the same for the new scenes as the main version.

Click on the screens for full version. Comparison in the next post.

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Audio
The original mono (PCM) sounds perfectly fine. There's also a 5.1 mix (DTS-HD MA) which doesn't seem to have any added crap on it, though I only briefly checked both tracks.

Extras
Kadokawa is known for being sketchy with the extras. Most of their original DVD releases, which came out more than 10 years ago, came with a great extras, such as interviews, music videos and behind the scenes footage. Their remastered DVD re-releases, which came out a few years ago, as well as BD releases, however, dropped nearly all of those extras.

This new Sailor Suit BD is a bit of a mixed bag. I never owned the original DVD release but it seems the extras are the same: Teaser, Trailer, Extended Version Trailer (double feature trailer with footage from Yosooi no Machi *) and TV spot. I had never seen most of these as I only owned the Hiroko Yakushimaru Box Set (with the Extended Version of the film), which however came with an extra disc featuring Hiroko documentary and a silly Hiroko tribute music video. Those extras are all missing from here.

The disc also offers a possibility to watch the added scenes one by one from the extras menu. Also, there's a re-printed (and resized)version of the original theatrical pamphlet (20 pages). I own the original (with 4A size pages) so I don't really need it, but it's certainly a great extra for those who don't have it.

* Yosooi no Machi (装いの街) is a television special drama or TV movie from 1978. I belive only one episode was produced, and Hiroko was in it. They showed this episode in cinemas as a double feature with Sailor Suit's Extended Version in 1982.

Teaser
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Footage from Yosooi no Machi in the double feature trailer
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Here's a picture from the original pamphet. The one that comes with the BD is identical but smaller.
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Re: Sailor Suit and Machine Gun (review, comparison etc.)

Unread postby HungFist » 06 Dec 2014, 18:10

Sailor Suit and Machine Gun: Kadokawa 4K Scanning Blu-Ray: Post 2/2

Top: IVL R3 HK (111 min original version)
Middle: Kadokawa R2J (130 min complete version)
Bottom: Kadokawa 4K Scan BD (111 min original version)

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Re: Sailor Suit and Machine Gun (review, comparison etc.)+ 4

Unread postby HungFist » 14 Sep 2015, 08:19

Dear God. New Sailor Suit and Machine Gun movie coming next year from Kadokawa. It's called Sailoir fuku to kikanju: sotsugyou (Sailor Suit and Machine Gun: Graduation), directed by some never-heard Koji Maeda and starring Kanna Hashimoto from an idol group called Rev. from DVL (I don't have a clue what that means).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ndCvdhYitA

- http://sk-movie.jp/

Of course, we should give the film a chance - there are many good sequels and remakes out there - but... it's a sequel for an all time idol classic directed by Shinji Somai and starring Hiroko Yakushimaru and Tsunehiko Watase. That's just not a good starting point for a sequel, even if you had a talented crew. You have a lot to live up to, and the teaser trailer doesn't exactly look promising.

And man, do I feel old when I see Hashimoto was born in 1999. That was like a few years ago

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Re: Sailor Suit and Machine Gun (review, comparison etc.)+ 4

Unread postby HungFist » 08 Dec 2015, 10:46

HungFist wrote:Dear God. New Sailor Suit and Machine Gun movie coming next year from Kadokawa.


Trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Xs7H2MoY9k

It looks terrible. Thank God I'm old enough to understand I don't need to see this.


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