Can you spot all the clichés in what’s basically a live action adaptation of a fanservice anime fighting show?
What They Say
Why remake when you can recycle?! It's Two movies in one in the ultimate DUB-ble Feature as a T&A martial arts film gets a second pass through a twisted team of voice actors! First up, a skirt-wearing street-fighter finds herself in the odd position of defending a south of the border noodle joint from Servicio Occupodo, his toothless henchman Pinchi Hoto and their goon squad of Japanese-Mexican wrestlers in the dubbed in English A FIST FULL OF FUKU! Then, when Street-fighter Yuki gets into a fight in a shabby noodle shop, she ends up joining the owner of the shop in fighting off the forces of an evil real estate agent in the original uncut and subtitled COMBAT BEAUTY!
A Fist Full of Fuku has two different shows on it of sorts and is a first for Switchblade in that it has two language options. The original Japanese language movie is presented in stereo encoded at 192kbps while the English movie adaptation is also in stereo but at 224kbps. Both language tracks are pretty much the same in terms of quality, though the English language one comes across as somewhat louder but there isn’t anything really stronger here beyond that. In listening to both tracks, we didn’t have any issues with dropouts or distortions.
Originally released in 2005, the transfer for this film is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Both movies are essentially the same here with the English language one running a few minutes shorter simply because of the differences in the end credits. The film looks as good as a shot on video one can where it manages to avoid most of the main problems you see with them, such as mosquito noise and rampant cross coloration in various scenes. This one looks pretty clean and good looking considering the source material and style in which it was shot. Colors look good, very little noise or grain to be found and flesh tones look spot on.
The cover design for this release is amusing if only because of the taglines used, especially since one of them doesn’t even make sense until you watch it. The central idea is that of a brick wall with the poster against it that has Yuki in her tight outfit and short skirt looking all tough. The title adaptation is really quite amusing, though I’m sure Combat Beauty would raise a few eyebrows as well. The layout looks good and it still uses the same style that Switchblade uses on all of its releases, though it doesn’t seem as strong. The back cover has a few shots from the film and another look at Yuki while providing the various summaries of the feature. It’s a bit deceptive in how they describe it though and I’m not quite sure how I feel about that yet since they describe the dub as a remake. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu uses the shot of Yuki from the front cover but takes the post behind her and puts it at an angle against the brick wall. The title along the top is nicely done and we get the individual movie access right from the top with a clear listing of what the audio/subtitle formats are for each. Beyond that we get the trailers, which is basically the front loaded piece we’ve seen already, and a basic rundown of the translation/adaptation/authoring credits. There are no real submenus here and player presets are essentially pointless with this kind of release. The menu loop is kind of amusing in that it’s fifteen seconds but the music lasts for barely ten seconds.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
A Fist Full of Fuku is an interesting angle for Switchblade Pictures to try as they’re basically dubbing the movie but providing it as its own feature with its own title and calling it a remake, or a “dub-ble feature” which is quite a horrendous term. The film, originally called Combat Beauty, is provided as two separate features on this disc, the original running sixty seven minutes and the dubbed version running sixty-four minutes which accounts for differences in the credits. We did watch both versions of this and being the “purist” that I am, we’ll talk about Combat Beauty first.
Combat Beauty is your basic exploitation film that doesn’t go all that far. When watching it, you can see ever so many clichés from your typical fighting girl anime series. The film revolves around Yuki, a tough street fighting schoolgirl who has gone out into the world to train and build her own particular style. After three months though, she’s gained a lot of skill but lacks in the financial department as she’s now flat broke. She does try to score a meal at a local ramen and gyoza shop without telling them she can’t pay as she scarfs down several bowls worth of food in the empty restaurant. The reason it’s empty? The place is being roughed up by some local thugs.
And naturally, those thugs show up to give the owner and his son some grief while Yuki is there enjoying her meal. The thugs are amusing as they’re part of something called the Skulls and they’re all in black and white but look more like Mexican wrestlers more than anything else. Yuki can’t stand to see an old man abused by punks like this and she takes them out easily. Before you know it, the bosses of the gang eventually come calling, the past between the big boss and the restaurant owner comes to light and Yuki is set to have a one on one match with the best disciple of the Skulls gang. If you’ve seen any number of standard martial arts fighting fare on the anime side of the world, you’ve seen this feature.
The role of Towa Aino as Yuki is one that works surprisingly well. She’s a “live action anime girl” in a way that makes sense as you can see lots of her posterior through the super tight shorts she wears or the ultra short schoolgirl skirt she has on. It really is the visualization of what these kinds of outfits would look like in reality if anime was like that. She does have a few decent moves, though a lot of it starts to crumble when they do the actual training moments because it’s just horribly done Karate Kid stuff. Aino doesn’t make out as good here as she doesn’t have the look for it, or the direction is worse than usual, because it’s just awful to watch her doing the wax-on wax-off bits. Which is probably intentional, but it left me rolling my eyes.
After watching Combat Beauty, I loaded up the Fist Full of Fuku feature to see what it was all really about. And as mentioned before, it really is just a dubbed adaptation of the Combat Beauty feature but done more like what ADV Films did for Ghost Stories in that they alter the dialogue throughout it and fill it with various pop culture references and dialogue in scenes where there is none. I’m glad they provided the authentic version but I will admit to enjoying parts of this since it’s basically an hour of comedy that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. It’s all about the ass-cheek style of martial arts, changing one bad guy into a Native American named Hiawatha and playing up the skinservice even more than the Japanese side did. The dub for this is in the tradition of what we used to see for “kung fu dubs” back in the 70’s and I’m sure there is a market for it. And if it does generate more sales, more power to them as long as they include the original as well.
Combat Beauty made me laugh as it showed us what a live action anime property would look and feel like. A Fist Full of Fuku made me laugh as it plays up the silliness to another level as they essentially skewer and make fun of the movie at the same time. I don’t know that this would work for everything Switchblade does, but it’s good to see some familiar names working in something like this. Monica Rial has a lot of fun as Yuki and special props to Rob Mungle for his performance as Hiawatha as he really seemed to relish the role. The musical number in this is worth the price of admission alone. I can’t really recommend this show as something to serious check out, but I can recommend it as a piece of comedy that you’ll want to show other people in that “hey, check this out!” unbelievable way.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.