KG – Karate Girl
Directed by Yoshikatsu Kimura
Written by Fuyuhiko Nishi
KG – Karate Girl is the followup to High Kick Girl!, and once again follows Rina Takeda around as she beats up people and kicks them in the head. This time, the movie is more Rina-centric, and we even get another female fighter in the form of 14 year old Hina Tobimatsu. Much of the creative team is back, High Kick Girl! director, producer, fight choreographer, and cowriter Fuyuhiko Nishi wrote KG, while High-Kick Girl!’s other writer Yoshikatsu Kimura takes the director chair this time out. Tatsuya Naka is also running around, but as he gets killed pretty quickly he isn’t in the film nearly as much as High-Kick Girl!
As a sophomore effort, KG shows signs of improvement, the story is easier to follow, though it is still steeped into the culture of karate and honor. The family dojo is on Okinawa (where karate began), one of the main plot points involves seizing a clan belt, and the evil Shu Tagawa has his own gang of karate thugs who dress in all black and invade dojos. Several of the bigger fighters are semi-famous martial arts champions, such as Richard Heselton and Tatsuya Naka.
A lot of time was spent making sure this was going to be filled with great action, Rina spent a year training for it (in addition to being an Ancient Dogoo Girl, and prepping for a slew of other film roles), and the training shots during the credits show the time that was taken to make sure the choreography was action packed.
|Ayaka Kurenai (Rina Takeda) – Ayaka Kurenai’s father was killed and sister kidnapped when she was but a wee child. She’s now just become an adult, working at a movie theater and living her life, until her past returns to haunt her.
|Sakura/Natsuke (Hina Tobimatsu) – Sakura is actually Ayaka’s kidnapped sister Natsuke, raised for a decade by the evil Shu Tagawa to be one of his karate goons. She doesn’t talk for most of the film, just intensely staring at everyone when she isn’t kicking them. Hina Tobimatsu was around 14 when this was filmed, and shows great promise as a martial arts star.
|Shu Tagawa (Keisuke Horibe) – The evil Shu Tagawa likes to kill people and steal their belts. For honor. He has a gang of karate thugs that we don’t see do evil things, but it is implied they do evil things because they have evil mantras.
|Ayaka’s friend (Noriko Iriyama) – I am not sure if she is just her friend or also an adoptive sister, but in either case she joins Ayaka for some of her adventures in the first half of the film before disappearing forever.
|Ayaka and Natsuke’s Dad (Tatsuya Naka) – The father of the girls taught them karate and stances, but also is killed. So he mostly appears in flashback mode. Tatsuya Naka is yet another High-Kick Girl! refugee.
aka Hai kikku garu!
Directed by Fuyuhiko Nishi
Written by Yoshikatsu Kimura and Fuyuhiko Nishi
High-Kick Girl was one of four films that came out or were announced close together that featured new female fighting talent as the leads, the others being Coweb from Hong Kong, Fighter from Denmark (review forthcoming), and Chocolate from Thailand.
For what is undoubtedly a low-budget flick, it does mush of what it sets out to do. The main goal is to showcase the karate skills of the stars, with plenty of real karate action and moves. Forget your wire work and CGI. The amount of prep work required must have been enormous for such a low-budget affair. Rumors abound that stunt people had to go take MRIs for having so many kicks to the heads and were really upset that the fighting was all “real” and they didn’t do takes where punches and kicks were pulled.
One constant stylization that High-Kick Girl uses is the different angle slow-mo instant replay. Many of the more brutal hits are instantly replayed from an alternate angle slow enough for you to enjoy them. This happens often enough that it probably added 20 minutes to the length of the film
Many of the characters are given introductions with their names when they first appear on screen. One problem is the fact the intros are in Japanese with no subtitles. I can read some of the characters, so there will be a few actual names below, but some of them I didn’t catch.
|Kei Tsuchiya (Rina Takeda) – A real-life blackbelt in karate who will kick you in the head just because she can. This girl kicks high, thus the title, Kick High Girl. Wait, that’s not the title!
|Yoshiaki Matsumura (Tatsuya Naka) – Tatsuya Naka is a real life Karate champion, as in a former All Japan Karate champion who is now the Japan Karate Association lead instructor.
|Kei’s buddy (???) – Kei’s buddy who documents her attempts to beat up everyone in the universe.
|Ryuzoku (Sudo Masahiro) – Matsumura’s former associate with a grudge. Ryuzoku is part of a larger mob of goons who all hate Matsumura, and he gets to him by going through Kei and using her to track down his foe.
|Genga (Amano Koji) – Leader of the gang (the Destroyers) with a grudge against Matsumura. What this grudge is, I don’t know thanks to the no subtitles, but my guess is Matsumura