Go Go 70s

On my way back from Japan I flew with Japan Airlines.  One of the good things about flying with JAL is that you have the choice to watch Japanese movies. A lot of them even haven’t had their premiere yet in Europe.  So I had the chance to see Takashi Miike’s last movie Crows  Zero II.  Crows 2 is about a gangs of punks of a  fighting kids from a highschool for zen monks. Of course there is like in all Miike’s action movies a lot of over the top violence, but it misses the absurd humor  craziness of his earlier movies.  The movie prior to this, the big blockbuster Yatterman  still had some of this absurd humor. That the main gang in Crows II are “punks ” makes it bit more bearable , because some fine tunes by Japanese punk rock bands like The Street Beats and The Mods are played.  On the other hand the punks in the movie lack any nihilistic or anarchistic ideas that you might expect and most of them look more like pop-stars than like the punk kids that I met in Japan. Some of the music in the background is nice, like the opening tune from Street Beats, but most of the music is just shite like that Fall Out Boy kind of song or that  girl in her Clash shirt that sung a J-pop song in a underground bar. It could have been a really great Japanese punk movie, but it just isn’t. It’s about time that Miike is going to release some decent movies again.

After watching the touching movie “Dear My Love” by Yoshiro Fukugawa about unspoken feelings between husbands and wives in long relations I made a surprisingly good choice.  Since there weren’t any other Japanese movies that appealed to me and I didn’t really want to see the Terminator or Angels & Demons, I chose watch the Korean movie “Go Go 70’s” eventhough there weren’t English subtitles available and I really don’t understand a word of Korean. The story starts just after the Korean war. In shabby clubs near American army bases there is band named “The Devils” that play sixties music inspired by the records the soldiers bring from America. Some of the Koreans even have Afros like black soldiers and the girls learn to dance the new dance moves from US.  So the band is way ahead of any other band at that time in Korea. When they go to Seoul they are challenged by apathy of the crowd, but of course after the initial struggles they get really popular.  All the Korean girls dance the go go and the boys let their hair grow. The band can not handle the success and breaks up.  So far the movie really is a mix of band biopics like “The Commitments” and “24 hours Party People”, they even have the crazy extravagant manager, but then the movie slowly gets political.

The oppressive South Korean regime doesn’t tolerate the openness , freedom of their youth. In black and white documentary shots is shown how young Koreans their hairs get cut by the police. All the members of The Devils get send to prison as well, where they are tortured by the secret police. Here the band decides to reunite again. Their reunion gig is a huge success, but outside the riot police is waiting to go in.  The police throws in teargas grenades and panic breaks out, just when the riot squad wants to get in the singer of The Devils starts singing a Korean national song. The police holds back. Then the band starts to play rock ‘n roll songs, a powerful moment and the band sounds almost like an early punk band.

A lot of countries have their own history of rock ‘n roll and especially in countries with dictatorial regimes there are some really strong artists that remain unknown in the west.  I mean who knows Iwan Fals or Gilberto Gil?  Although I couldn’t find a lot of info on The Devils on the Internet except this link, according to this movie had a similar importance to South Korea. Anyone interested in Asian history or if you just like good music I can recommend to watch this movie.


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