High Kick Girl! is a 2009 film directed by Fuyuhiko Nishi.
Kei Tsuchiya is a high school student who is talented in karate. Her sensei, Yoshiaki Matsumura, has been refusing to promote her to black belt and she is bitter about it. She spends her days hunting black belts and fighting them to prove that she is strong.
One day she is approached by a secret society called The Destroyers and agrees to take their entrance test – beating up a group of expert martial artists – and join them.
Given their name, it will probably not surprise you that The Destroyers mostly wear black and turn out to be the baddies, who are using Kei to further an evil plot.
Things I loved
The philosophy! It is made very clear during the film that Karate is not for fighting with. It is for defending yourself and others. Generally speaking, those who attack first will lose the fight (although this doesn’t seem to apply when Kei is attacking random black belts at the start).
I won’t give it away, but the ending is also very philosophical.
I enjoyed the strong female lead. She is not at all interested in having a love interest – in fact it is never mentioned at all, which makes it different to a lot of female-led films. The closest she comes is saying she wants her sensei to notice her – but I’m pretty sure she’s talking about wanting a black belt, not his heart.
Things I hated
The slow-mo repeats. The first one or two were fun, but after the 20th time it got annoying. The whole film could have been maybe 40 minutes shorter without them. There was also quite a lot of soulful staring at the camera.
Given the film’s name, you won’t be surprised that there are a lot of kicks involved in the fights. The things she can do with her feet are very impressive. If a little implausible at times, as you will see if you watch the out-takes in the credits and see how many times she tried some of the moves.
The gender balance was interesting. In the “good” dojo, Kei seems to be the only girl. In fact, she seems to be the only teenager, in a class of adult men. Which is a little odd. On the other hand the “bad” dojo had a much more even gender split. The first person that Kei even slightly struggles to fight is a woman.
In general it’s an ok film, but I wouldn’t watch it again. The style is not a good fit for my tastes.