Magnolia Pictures // 2006 // 99 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 30th, 2007
Walk the dog.
No doubt, this is one of the dopest movie concepts ever. But does the film proper live up to such impossible expectations?
K (Aya Matsuura) is a troubled teenager from New York who finds herself shipped to Japan and pressed into service by a covert police agency. An underground radical group of teenagers operating a guerilla Web site has been up to no good and the police have no idea how to infiltrate the target high school. Apparently, there's no Jump Street-equivalent precinct in the Land of the Rising Sun, so they settle for the next best thing: Yo-Yo Girl Cop!!!
Assuming the mantle of the toy-wielding crime-fighter is K, who reluctantly agrees to take on the responsibility of investigating the malfeasance as an undercover officer. Detective work is helpful and all, but when push comes to shove, there's only one weapon in our heroine's arsenal that will level the playing field. And it rhymes with "bo-bo."
I was so ready to fall in love with this movie and proclaim its awesomeness to the heavens. Just look at the cover art! Perky Japanese girl, school girl uniform, twirling a yo-yo with a bad-ass look on her face, and humongous explosions going off behind her! That, my friends, is how you generate impulse buys.
Alas, Yo-Yo Girl Cop failed to deliver on the promise of its premise. Its major flaw is the deal-breaker: for a movie implying a copious amount of yo-yo action, said yo-yo action was disappointingly rare. In fact, it would be hard to even classify this as an action film as the mayhem doesn't get rolling into well into the third act. There's the opening sequence, a brief chase scene and smattering of a fight prior to the finale, but aside from those precious respites you're looking at Dawson's Creek with subtitles.
Erm, no thanks. Seriously, you get me keyed up for yo-yo attacks to the face and then you sit on the melees for an hour-plus before giving up the goods? Not cool. With all the talk of the yo-yo, you'd think we get some sporadic encounters, perhaps even a training sequence, but the titular adjective doesn't get heavy use until about the 1:10 mark. Speaking of training sequences, how exactly does this street girl learns the ancient art of yo-yo ass-kicking? That's a question that goes unanswered and a glaring plot hole I'd be willing to overlook if my thirst for yo-yo violence had been satiated, which it was not. Even the big fights at the end under-perform. The highlight is a face-off with another yo-yo brandishing hottie and manages to deliver on a modicum of the potential, but things went downhill after that. There are guys with guns and even an end boss fight, but the yo-yo doesn't come into play much, leaving us with just a bunch of generic, over-stylized import brawling.
The true pain of the flick is the monotony that glues the asthmatic action together. Kids, this is painful. Lodged underneath endless dialogue and a profoundly goofy back-story involving an outcast girl and suicide bombing is an ember of interesting commentary on bullies and the bullied, but you'll quickly lose sight of any social observations while fighting back yawns. Worse, these good intentions get even more tangled up in the mess of a story that completely unravels into a hodge-podge of plot contrivances as the narrative progresses. By the end of the film I guarantee you'll be asking yourself this question: "Who isn't wearing an explosive device around their waist?!"
So there you go; a hugely disappointing import actioner that could have been a pile of fun. It's not. It's boring.
Magnolia has served up a decent DVD, however. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is clean, if a mite sterile, and the 5.1 audio mix (go with the original Japanese with English subtitles) makes effective use of the surrounds. A 40-minute making-of documentary and the original theatrical trailer are the extras; that doc is pretty good though.
Look, I'm bummed I have to lower the boom on this, but don't let the sweet disc cover fool you: Yo Yo Girl Cop is just not as cool as advertised.
Review content copyright © 2007 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Japanese)
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Making-of Documentary