Don’t worry if you haven’t seen the first episode of this blockbuster series Miike made in 2007; its events are recapped in the first few minutes of this bigger-budgeted follow-up, which then grows so complicated that you’ll soon lose track of the story details anyway! Based on a popular comic by Hiroshi Takahashi, the hyper-stylized Crows Zero films follow the violent students of Suzuran All-Boys High, a literal school of hard knocks. Hunky star Shun Oguri (from Miike’s Sukiyaki Western Django) returns as Genji, son of a yakuza and the leader of Suzuran’s gangs, but newly-allied with his episode one rival Serizawa (Takayuki Yamada, also in 13 Assassins). The reason? A new, common enemy threatens their school: the bad boys of Hosen Academy, aka “The Army of Killers”! High school gang violence, melodrama, intrigue, romance and tragedy intertwine in what became one of the biggest box office successes of Miike’s career, and a film which plays like a more mainstream, but no less violent, return to the high school chaos of earlier works like Fudoh.
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