Though it doesn't help, the problem with Kirenji Girls Combat School isn't the micro budget. I can excuse that they didn't have an available building wherein they could paint the titular schools graffiti covered walls. Instead, the cheap substitute is obvious canvas and if you could be possibly fooled by distance, actors fall into the faux-concrete wall which visibly wrinkles.
Less forgiving is the fx. In the first hour of this two-part DTV film, it is clear they could only pony up the money for one scene. In trying to ape the source materials manga roots, they throw in a cartoonish shattered wall and minor impact fx, but it ends up distracting because the execution is subpar by even an amateur dabblers standards. I've seen kids on Youtube who execute better fx with basic programs.
Again, though it doesn't help, I will not fault the source. The story is typical stuff. Slugger Maki wanders around testing herself by picking fights, easily beating up the best fighters from a bunch of schools, and then finds herself enrolled in the toughest school for girl delinquents, the Kirenji Girls Combat School. The school is virtually lawless. Classes revolve around sharpening ones pugilism. There's no schedule, no rule, no hierarchy save for the cliques.
Maki (an homage to 13th Floor Maki perhaps?) is the strong silent type. Fights like a guy. A one-punch haymaker throwing, knee to the gut badass. She meets the uusal cast of archetypes, the girl who cannot back up her big mouth, the scheming Yakuza daughter, the dueling school queens, the sullen orphan, and a team of comical male bigshots who plot against the school because Maki wiped the floor with them. Plot mechanics don't go anywhere surprising. The only riddle it offers is why certain scenes are supposed to be funny. For instance, an inert exchange between three girls, two who have lollipops, one who doesn't, who asks them what flavor they have. They tell her, she asks if she can have some. They say, "No." she storms off. Thats it. I guess there its some cultural in-joke Westerners will not get, perhaps part of Japan's love for the simple-obvious-silly. Hell if I know.
The actors and actresses are all far too old for their teenage roles. Of course, thats one of those low budget quibbles you either embrace or throw in a productions face. Here, its sometimes funny, a man in his 40's playing a high school thug, other times a tad disappointing, like most of the female cast who, rather than looking like students, resemble women more likely to be attending their 20th high school reunion. I guess its a good thing most of them are wearing schoolgirl uniforms that are closer to a nuns habit rather than the apparel most men fantasize about.
But, all of that isn't why this film doesn't work. Apparent from the opening minute or two of film, the problem is clear. The fights suck.
Lets face it, that's really all Kirenji Girls Combat School has to offer- and all it needs to offer, that's the magic flavor of action. Due to the budget, it cannot offer decent visuals or production slickness, though you could make the case low budgets can offer thrifty innovation. The material doesn't offer anything new in the story or character department. So, its got to be about these scrappers who want to slug it out and delivering some quality action. While the actors have gusto and the direction tries to cover things up with some blurs, cuts, and zooms, its obvious those involved aren't very scrappy in front or behind the lens. The hits lack impact. The composition is standard. Actresses often wildly swing well away from their targeted costars. Some action could have saved it from its faults, but instead you just have some yawning, underdeveloped fight choreography.
The DVD: Switchblade Pictures.
Most folks have grown accustomed to the newer wave of Japanese low budget video films. There have been a rash of them over the past few years, and I mean that literally, they are like an infection. Cheaply made and cheap to acquire, one doesn't get much from these features in terms of visuals. Here you'll find the usual low grade quirks that come with vid-lensed flicks, aliasing, muddy details, and a general "we did the best we could" picture quality with the anamorphic widescreen transfer.
The Japanese 2.0 stereo track with optional English subtitles also bear the usual low grade hallmarks like hollow sound fx, forgettable scoring, and some externally noisy scenes. At least the subs are well-timed and appear to be well translated.
Zilch, just some trailers, nothing pertinent to the feature.
Conclusion.: Japan has a long tradition of serving up some exploitation fun via sexy delinquent girls who also kick ass. Kirenji Girls Combat School doesn't live up to any of its predecessors. Following the old cliched blueprint is fine as long as there is some energy, but, in terms of performance and action, this one just doesn't have much to applaud. The disc doesn't offer much either, so I'll go with a rare pass.