Takashi Miike offers a sequel to the successful “Crows Zero”. If the first work didn’t leave us with a cliffhanger, it is nice to catch-up with the same characters, and in the same atmosphere.

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Indeed, and unlike the third movie (“Crows Explode”), Crows Zero II doesn’t change the winning team. It is still directed by Miike. The screenplay is still adapted by Shôgo Mutô (usually more active on the J-drama stage). The characters are back, and we luckily avoid the “Days of Our Lives”’s twist to cast different actors for the same role. The soundtrack is still rock’n’rollish and cool.

The film starts eight months after Genji Takaya’s gang took over Suzuran. He is struggling to secure his authority within the school and screws up a long-built truce between Suzuran and another school, Housen. Not a great start for Genji, but a great start for the movie if you ask me. Between internal tensions within the school, personal concerns and the need to join forces to face Housen, a lot of fights happen. Very macho lines are said, but values such as honor are displayed.

The action takes place in a vaguely Gotham-city like environment, where no one seems to be an innocent passer-by, or even just a female (besides the two girls who have one minute on-screen and are purely the sexual and romantic interest). The visuals indicators are quite strong. It is connected to the manga roots of the feature. So, what makes the boys look like yakuza-to-be? They have funky haircuts, have their faces covered with band-aids and contusions (they fight a lot, duh), they smoke and never seem to go to class, although they will apparently eventually graduate. Luckily for viewers, it is also quite easy to know who is from the good side (Suzuran): they wear black uniforms, reminding of the crows, and who is from the bad side (Housen): they wear white.

Even if there are still a lot of characters and storylines, just like in “Crow Zero”, the story is more coherent and the impressive fights are more understandable. Genji, even if he is still non-very talkative and probably not the person I would like to go on holiday with (not so much the fun type), has a more defined evolution. Shun Oguri offers a more-than-decent impersonation considering he has so little dialogue and not the deepest character ever made. Humor is also more present in this second movie.

Visually, although the fights can be quite long, the pace is fast. If there are many fights scenes and if they can be quite stretched, it is actually very enjoyable. The opening and closing battles are particularly well-made. Thanks to many close-ups, handheld tracking shots, and perfectly choreographed action scenes, it is a pleasure to watch.

“Crows Zero II” is probably not the movie to watch if you want to get into deep character development, family dynamics drama, and is very much arguable from a feminist point of view. That being said, if you enjoyed “Crow Zero” you must definitely watch its sequel because it is better. And if you just enjoy a good action movie and really amazing fighting scenes, it is a must.