Film Festival

HIGH Kicks LOW Flying Rina Takeda

Film:  K.G. / Karate Girl (空手少女)

Year: 2010

Director:  Yoshikatsu KimuraKG Karate Girl Rina

Venue: Prince Charles Cinema, London

Further Info:



Rina Takeda

Hina Tobimatsu

Richard Heselton

Keisuke Horibe

Noriko Iriyama

Tatsuya Naka

A few technical hitches meant much waiting around for this (next ‘Terracotta’) film.  But, it came to us in the end…or do I mean ‘in the beginning’?  Well…Onwards…

First, let me explain.  This movie, although connected with the word ‘karate’ – and of course is about such a genre – I would normally not be too interested in such a film.  I had decided to see it thought – if only to make up the fact that I would then have felt like I’d seen slightly more of this Terracotta fest than initially thought – and was anticipating it hotly the more I felt the vibe around the place…and indeed many people were excited about this.

After all, it features a pretty, young, talented champion in one particular type of karate…that being Ryukyu Shorin-ryu karate.  It was also a World Premier, and like quite a few of the movies at this Terracotta Far East Film Festival, it was to include a Q & A & possibly introduction by the main star [such Q & A’s being most prominent on this very last day of the festival…more on that in this site’s main Terracotta Far East Film Festival section]

Anyway, as the hitches technically seemed to be continuing I decided to wander off with a newly found friend to grab coffee – well, this was to be a long day – and got back to the Prince Charles cinema in time to catch main star, & karate champion Rina finishing up her brief introduction to Karate Girl.

So, after hearing Rina utter words along the lines of how many injuries she incurred whilst filming I put my photo-taking equipment [ok, iPhone] away and took a seat inside this auditorium.  Rina had also – I was reminded of later – revealed a Royal Wedding t-shirt under her ‘school uniform’ top.

Karate Girl Japan Japanese Rina Takeda
"I told you before, stop looking up my skirt!"

The film began…in black & White…but was this how it was intended?  I know that I’d seen a clip in the trailer in black & White (or had I?) but remember the trailer essentially be in colour.  Oh well, I thought, perhaps the start of this picture was going to be black & white and it would turn to glorious technicolor. I didn’t care either way, incidentally.  [“So, why ramble on about it?”, you exclaim.  It may all make sense soon…]

A beautiful beginning ensued, even if it reminded me of other martial art inspired movies out there. The scene was set for the story to springboard from. And it slowly (and often slow-motion-ly in this picture) but surely springboarded smoothly.

But, it was still black & white. Again, oh well & onwards…please.

Rina’s character is introduced, at least in her adult form.  What is appealing about this introduction is that I was surreally & silently comparing it to one of a superhero.  By this, I mean that this girl has a pretty normal existence except that when her help was called upon she would turn into a superhero, perhaps I expected words like “Are those hands like wings of a speeding bird, are they hands like a wings on a plane? Noooo, its ‘Karategirl’…!” Oh wait, that is kind of the movie’s title.  Anyhow, you’ll get the idea behind my thinking, when you see this film.  An assumed-normal girl turns into a hero-like being.

K.G. Rina Takeda Karate Girl White Sister
I Run This Town....Well, This Little Area Here...

Right-ho, on we go.  I was as moved by this movie and by the drama outside of the karate-action itself.  Family stuff involving her sister, who incidentally is also one mighty fine karate kid.  There is bitter blood between enemies and I guess you could even say there is the same between the two sisters, but this would be hardly their fault.

Of course, I won’t expand on that.  That’s not my style.  I have style?  Debatable.

Being no immense fan – quite the opposite, I suppose – of fighting-driven stories (martial arts or samurai to name a couple) this film has just the right amount to tell the needed story.  The fight scenes are incredible and all real, so it is told.

The music is reminiscent of a James Bond theme, but I currently forget which one.

But the music works, and…so do the colours.

Colours?  I thought black & white aren’t colours.  Maybe not, but to explain.  The two sisters are shown opposing one another in battle on more than one occasion.  One is in pure black and the other white, or mostly white (save for a black belt).  And this beautiful contrast of ‘colours’ is made more beautiful – and I ***thought, apt – it being a film in black & white.

***You see…after the picture it was explained to me that this was not how the movie was intended. It’s a COLOUR film, and those technical problems were, you could say ‘technical-or’ ones…they couldn’t get the picture correct. But, thinking back to the trailer and therefore the colour clips I recall them looking rather B-Movie-ish, so the black & white colouring gave it a touch of style and had no signs of being a B-Movie.

If any B-Movie similarities were shown it was perhaps in the poor-ish script.

Karate Girl Kicking Sister Black White
"Sisters Are Doing It 'TO' Themselves"

Let me just say this – the black and whiteness worked for me and I’m so glad to have seen it in such a way…even if it throws away any theories I may have had about it trying to be artful, ironic or different.

Coloured or not, I thought this version, as black & White as it was – and along with the slow motion & 2-sister shots – made it feel very stylised.  Even the scenes where the 2 sisters are kids and being taught aspects of ‘life’ will make any man (a grown one..or..errr.. Me!) go “Ahhhh”.

A few filmic facts:

The director and star of Yakuza (also present at this festival) plays a part in Karate Girl.

Rina is not only a Karate champion, movie star and lovely human being she is also a singer…by which I’m referring to the song at the end of Karate Girl.

One of the (unintentionally) funniest characters is Keith.  He’s an Englishman but not a trained actor, as such.  You’ll probably see what I’m referring to and there is one scene which had the audience in fits of laughter.

Come on, Keeeiith..!
Rina Takeda Keith Tackle-Me
Because I'm Worth It....

Well, you know what they say… Never work with Children, Animals or (some) Karate experts.

As much as I rave about this movie and give it many a high five or perhaps more relevantly, high kicks, I only wish that you could see it in the non-colour version like I did.  What could have been Silliness is instead almost Silhouette-ness.

A Q & A followed (complete with Rina high-kicking on stage).

Karate Girl Terracotta Far East Film Festival
A Photogenic Rina (with a less-than-photogenic lad)

One version of the trailers available:

Find this trailer and other Minier [ok, that’s not a real word in the UK, but…] Movies here at: