I saw this film yesterday at my local cinema in Japan, and while I generally enjoyed it, there were a few things that I didn't particularly like.
The film follows Hiroshi, a junior-high school student who transfers from a decent school, to a school with a large number of yankees (basically badly behaved kids in gangs) in order to become a yankee himself. The story then follows his progression within the gang he joins, and the fights that ensue with rival gangs. The film is based on a manga of the same name, which itself is apparently based upon the experience of the director (comedian) Hiroshi Shinagawa.
The best thing about the film is simply that it is funny. There are a lot of funny scenes and some great diaologue. Lead, Hiroki Narimiya, is an actor that I've only seen in romantic dramas until now, and I was surprised at how good his delivery and timing was. Many other well known Japanese comedians also appeared and were suitable amusing.
There were a few things that I didn't like, but out of all of them the thing that was most disappointing to me was that message seemed to be that there is nothing wrong with the anti-social behaviour portrayed by the characters. By no means did I want a 'bad-kids-see-error-of-ways' Hollywood film, but to me it seemed to be saying that being a 'delinquent', as the Hiroshi refers to himself, is in fact cool. Perhaps given that Shinagawa himself was inspired to become a delinquent after reading manga showing 'cool' high-school gang members, it should not be surprising that this message is portrayed, however the fact that he was himself influenced by media showing this message means that he should realise his responsibility not to further push home this image.
On another point, the film could have done with some serious editing. The film with running time of around two hours was dragging a little by the end, and the story conclusion seemed to be a touch slow. Some of the fight scenes could have been shortened or cut altogether, as there was a sense of repetition by the end.
And on the point of the fight scenes, they're pretty violent. While the scenes didn't bother me, this might not be a film for people who find graphic violence hard to watch. If hearing the sound of metal baseball bats hitting heads, and seeing faces pushed into broken glass are things that you would find hard to watch, this might not be a film for you.
All in all, an enjoyable, funny film, containing laugh-out-loud moments, but marred slightly by a long running time and a slightly upsetting message.