Yo-Yo Girl Cop – DVD Review

Film, Reviews

Available at Amazon.com

Directed by:
Kenta Fukasaku

Aya Matsuura… Saki Asamiya
Rika Ishikawa… Reika Akiyama
Shunsuke Kubozuka… Jiro Kimura

Running time: 98 minutes
Release date: July 17, 2007

As some of you may have guessed from the title, Yo-Yo Girl Cop is about a girl using a yo-yo to fight crime. But what it less hinted at in the title is that the film is also about an investigation into a string of teenage suicide bombings.

The problem with Yo-Yo Girl Cop is that it can’t decide on whether to take itself seriously or not. The opening scene is chilling, but the rest of the first act, with its over the top action sequence and dramatic camera work for things like eating a sandwich or writing on a chalkboard, is obviously tongue-in-cheek. Once Saki gets settled in at the school and begins her investigation, it’s suddenly a much more serious movie. There are still a few comedy bits (like Saki’s first attempt at using the yo-yo to stop someone), but they feel out of place surrounded by an investigation into suicide bombings and teen suicide. It’s not until the film’s climatic final showdown that it reverts back to an over-the-top parody of an action movie.

There’s a definite sense that the writers originally had an idea for an over-the-top film about a girl using a yo-yo to fight crime. But then when it came time to figure out why a teenage girl would be needed to assist the police in an investigation, the answers they came up with, while somewhat logical, dealt with issues that were far more serious than their initial premise.

Even though the movie doesn’t really mesh together very well, the individual parts themselves are pretty good. The movie does a good job of being over-the-top when it actually tries to be; there’s a moment at the start of the movie, for instance that contains perhaps the most dramatic camera work ever used for the eating of a sandwich. The movie can be pretty funny when it wants to be.

When the movie tries to be serious, it does a decent job of certain situations. The investigation is fine, and the tension builds up nicely as the movie progresses. The friendship between Saki and Tae could have been really cliche, what with the rebellious outsider befriending the much picked-on loner and all, but it manages to avoid that while simultaneously injecting a little sweetness into the movie.

The only real issue with the more serious parts of the movie is the villain. We’re told that the villain is very good at convincing people to blow themselves up, and even though we get to see a couple scenes where someone is convinced, said convincing feels hollow; after just a few words of encouragement any troubled teen is more than willing to blow themselves up. While a shallow and cartoony villain works fine when the movie is over-the-top (as in the film’s climax), in the more serious parts of the movie, the villain could really use some more menace, or even just some fleshed out character motivations.

Oddly enough, despite the film’s title, there’s not all that much yo-yo in this movie. Saki doesn’t get the yo-yo until just before she begins her investigation. She doesn’t have much use for it while investigating a string of bombings, and it’s not until the movie’s final sequence that we get any substantial amount of yo-yo related action.

Even though Yo-Yo Girl Cop suffers from serious identity issues, it still makes for an enjoyable (but flawed) viewing experience.

The Video:

Presented in 1.78:1 widescreen. The video is a bit grainy but otherwise looks good, with no major issues cropping up.

The Audio:

Presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital. There are two audio tracks to choose from, Japanese and English. The screener copy I reviewed only had the Japanese audio track and it sounded fine. The English track is probably quite similar but with much more dubbing.

It’s also worth noting that the subtitles for the Japanese track don’t use periods at the end of each caption. If the last sentence of a caption is a question or something worthy of an exclamation mark, those things will be used, but periods only show up in the preceding sentences of a multi-sentence caption. It’s not a huge deal or anything, but I found the lack of periods to be distracting.

The Extras:
The screener case promises deleted scenes, a making of featurette and a commentary track. Unfortunately those were not included on the screener copy so I can’t comment on their quality. The trailers (the one feature that is included for the screener) are a decent bunch.

The Inside Pulse:
It’s tough to make a movie about teen suicide bombers and a funny movie at the same time. Because of this, Yo-Yo Girl Cop is only an over-the-top action movie before Saki gets her assignment, and when she has her final showdown with the bad guys. The rest of the time, the subject matter isn’t really appropriate for the light-hearted humor one would expect from a movie called Yo-Yo-Girl Cop.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Yo-Yo Girl Cop
(OUT OF 10)