Maria OzawaHitomi KitamuraSasa HandaNene
Kekko Kamen Royale
Medium: film
Year: 2007
Director: Kosuke Suzuki
Original creator: Go Nagai
Writer: Rui Tsubota
Actor: Maria Ozawa, Hitomi Kitamura, Nene, Sasa Handa, Koichi Obori, Masashi Kumada, Yoshiyuki Morishita, Nocchi
Keywords: boobs
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 70 minutes
Series: << Kekko Kamen >>
Website category: J-sleaze
Review date: 18 July 2009
It's more of the same, but straight-to-video. It's also from the studio who did the 2004 films (Art Port), with the same running time (70 minutes) and is basically the same film (nude superheroics played for sleazy laughs). Art Port did three Kekko Kamen films in 2007: Royale, Premium and Forever and this is the first of them. What's more, they were clearly churned out back-to-back, sharing a common crew and regular cast.
The main variation is in the actors brought in to play the "Punishment Teacher of the Week". This film has two of them. The first, shorter-lived and funnier one is a sergeant-major type whose superpower is smelly armpits, while the second is a samurai with bad teeth who cuts the clothing off his victims. You might be starting to see what kind of movie we're talking about here.
Similarly the school headmaster, Satan's Toenail, wears a jester's outfit and is played by an actor called Nocchi. He's less entertaining than Kenjiro Ishimaru in 2004, but he's still the character we know from Go Nagai's manga. He's got the footprint tattoo on his forehead and everything. This is a slightly more faithful adaptation than the 2004 films, albeit of source material that Nagai originally submitted to his editor as a joke and hadn't expected to be published. This time Keiko Natsuwata isn't secretly Kekko Kamen, for instance, but an unrelated cool super-teacher at Sparta Academy who knows judo, karate, aikido, kendo and fencing. That surprised me. The formula for all Kekko Kamen stories so far had been "Kekko fights perverted teachers", but this time they've introduced allies whose relationship to Kekko is unclear. I've no idea what's going on with that sword-wielding schoolboy, for instance, but I dare say we'll find out later in the series. Well, for a generously broad definition of "we", anyway.
The actors can be divided into two groups. A few are male and employed for their (over)-acting ability. They're silly, but rather good. They fit the tone of the film, being sufficiently over the top that they could make me laugh. However most of the cast are female and employed because this is a straight-to-video quickie in which porn stars get naked. Kekko Kamen isn't really for the pornoisseur, but still all but one of this film's named female characters is played by someone who's usually being paid to have sex on camera. Kekko herself is played by Maria Ozawa, who's half Japanese and half French Canadian and wasn't scouted by the porn industry but instead applied for an interview. She's the biggest star of all of them, but they're only using her as a body since Natsuwata is a separate character this time.
Natsuwata is played by the one-named Nene, whose other movies include The Lady Panther 7 and Ken's Private 7 Sex. She has dialogue and she's comparatively impressive, making it up to "poor". Sasa Handa plays Koichi Omote in semi-drag and is under-used, which is a shame since as far as I can tell she's extremely pretty. The odd one out is Hitomi Kitamura, who only shows cleavage because she's not a porn star but merely a gravure model. This means she merely poses semi-clothed in magazines and videos. She's also an appalling actress, even by this film's standards. Think about that for a moment. She's playing the regular victim role of Mayumi Takahashi and she's a clear step down from her predecessors Juri Inahara and Aki Hoshino.
However none of that matters. Porn stars can also do mainstream TV roles in Japan. So what about the film?
It's shoddy rubbish, but you knew that already. Compared with 2004, it's a mild improvement. I'm not sure if it's as good as Surprise, but it's better than the first one and Returns and ten times better than The MGF Strikes Back. It also has better nudity than any of them, thanks to the ten-minute identity parade in the middle of the film in which the Clothes-Slicing Samurai makes six girls strip before a one-way mirror so that Takahashi can tell him which one's Kekko. Only in Japan could they be called big-breasted, but some of them are okay. What's amazing about the scene though is how blatant it is. There's a fine line between "juvenile" and "so shameless that you can't stop laughing" and this franchise is like a college education in it. What's more, it's deliberate. Check out Smelly Armpit Teacher's flip-up sunglasses, for instance. When this franchise is on form, it's one of the funniest things I've ever seen. The OVAs almost did me an injury, while the first fifteen minutes of this film had me thinking I'd found a masterpiece. Unfortunately it falls back after that, with the low point being that student body check. It's an eye-roller, but in the end I was laughing at the stripping girls themselves. Great Scott, what bimbos. They come across as morons, although I should consider the possibility that they're capable of sentient thought and are merely hiding the fact with Oscar-quality acting.
That kind of comedy is the reason this series exists. At its best, it's awesome. Kekko's appearance for instance is better than in 2004 because it's funnier. Note also the way her fight scenes are edited together from one-shots of the individual combatants. Not until the Groin Attack climax will both fighters appear in the same shot and even that's done with special effects. This is even more ridiculous than it sounds, so it's brilliant. Also important is the famous theme, which the filmmakers are careful not to overuse and thus have new music for the opening and closing credits. (The latter also includes clips of all the film's best nudity.) At the end, the two main female characters even sing Kekko's theme. The song isn't just incidental music, you see, but something which plays and is heard by the characters whenever Kekko shows up to kick (and show) arse.
No front bottoms, though. The franchise maintains its mysterious prudishness. As I've said, Kekko Kamen isn't porn.
At its best, this film is so silly that it's brilliant. Unfortunately it's just as likely to be so silly that it's not very good. Unlike the 2004 films it's also only available as Japanese R2 DVDs without subtitles, although you probably won't lose much from not being able to follow the dialogue. This is the film for anyone who's been yearning to see goldfish in a urinal, on-screen captions in which the word "punishment" is dripping blood, punishment teachers (plural) who play wind instruments with their noses and a sillier-looking electrocution than Jack Nicholson killing that gangster in Batman. The karaoke number was a surprise too. There's even stuff that's non-ironically good, such as the wireframe opening credits and the way the producers have worked out not to overdo their centrepiece stuff. Fundamentally though this is a cheap, stupid film that only exists to appeal to the minority niche of low-budget exploitation comedy. I wouldn't recommend it, but it's good for a laugh, I suppose.