Movie titles are very important. Sure, most audiences know something about the plot or the actors involved in a movie before they start getting interested; but, there are some titles that just grab an audience before they know anything else, like : Yo-Yo Girl Cop. Even if you do not enjoy the not-so-subtle art of playing with a yo-yo, you have to admit that it’s a catchy title. Which is important since the movie has little else going for it.
Released in 2006, Yo-Yo Girl Cop is the third in a series of films based on a television series based on a manga series called Sukeban Deka (“Delinquent Girl Detective”). Each version features a young girl fighting crime undercover in Japanese high schools armed with only a metal yo-yo and congenital badassery.
The latest installment is no different as we follow Saki Asamiya (or Asamiya Saki, if you want to be formal), the next generation’s delinquent, as she is recruited by the Japanese police to infiltrate a high school which is the focus of an ongoing movement for teenage immolation. Which, for the folks playing at home, brings our “Stolen Ideas from Better Movies” count to 3: La Femme Nikita , 21 Jump Street and Blood: the Last Vampire.
When it comes to teenage suicide (and now for the requisite “don’t do it”….Damn you, Heathers !), pills and razors are for wimps. These guys strap bomb-vests to themselves and go running for the nearest populated area! Apparently, it’s also a group activity. Taught how by the resident villain’s website, “Enola Gay.” While watching the teenagers working their chemistry sets to create the explosives and wiring together the timers and vests, I was struck by how, even in the arena of juvenile delinquency, Japanese teens are still more educated and innovative than Americans. There has to be some way we can close this gap, America!
Remember that awesome title I mentioned in the beginning? You’d think there’d be wall-to-wall yo-yo action. In fact, there are only about 4 real scenes of intense yo-yo violence. The bulk of the movie is devoted to Japanese teenagers crying about bullying in their high school and deciding that blowing themselves up is the only answer. Well, that and robbing a bank. It turns out that the bombing movement was a smokescreen to rob a bank, which brings us to 4: Die Hard! However, towards the end, there is a sequence when Asamiya fights the “evil” Yo-Yo Girl and it, as a much more prolific internet commentator named Chris Sims has pointed out, “is the entire reason this movie was made.” In some movies(Casshern ), one scene of exquisite violence is more than enough to justify its existence, Yo-Yo Girl Cop is not one of those movies.
There are some fun points: a girl explodes in the first 3 minutes; the “shaky-cam” technique is used to demonstrate some incredible sandwich-eating choreography; goofy yo-yo fighting; and, Tak Sakaguchi. However, the story is too bogged down in teen melodrama to be exciting. Maybe if they’d try to bring Tom Smothers out of retirement…