Bounce Ko Gals

"Weak"

Bounce Ko Gals Review


As Larry Clark turns the struggles of young adults into so much tabloid fodder, Masato Haradi takes on the subject of teenage high school girls that walk on the wild side in Bounce Ko Gals. Using a vérité approach, without cinematic lighting, he places us in the midst of a young and desperate Tokyo. His cast of open faced girls in schoolgirl socks and skirts is expressive and often funny, but never deep or poetic.

The 24-hour time frame gives an easy structure to the story of Lisa (Yukiko Okamoto), who has saved up enough money to move to New York. Taking time off to shoot a micro-budgeted music video, she discovers it's actually a big scam to rip off her savings. Able to save her passport and ticket, she doesn't have any cash to support herself in America. Enter two Bounce Ko Gals, Jonko (Hitomi Sato) and Raku (Yasue Sato), to spend the evening with her on the streets finding men who will pay large sums just to be seen with hot teenage girls.

Bounce Ko Gals touches on the neediness of older men hungering for these children, mostly for companionship. As their stomachs sag and their hair recedes, they pay fast cash just to sit across the dinner table from a pretty young thing (or to have some relaxing karaoke with them). The film implies that a common night for these underage nymphs passes without sex or violence, and the corruption is only surface deep and sad.

Of course, sex and violence are never far away from their high-strung lifestyle. One of the girls is seen having an abortion early on, and a Yakuza gangster threatens their livelihood because they're taking money off the streets that could be his. Things get a little flashy, involving a street fight and a lot of John Hughes-style teary-eyed confessions. Bounce Ko Gals professes to show all, but it's central story is a time-honored bit of show business. The girl who needs to make a lot of money quick implies that we should cheer on these dumb bunny teens as they sink further in the morass.

The story is told without judgment or condemnation, and it's refreshing to see a filmmaker so hands-off with after-school special moralism. But Bounce Ko Gals also never takes a serious stance on its subject matter, and the fact that its presentational faux-realistic style seemingly professes to be "the truth" -- a document of the facts -- makes for a questionable viewing experience. It's a fake that doesn't admit its phoniness. As the girls act bad, the movie tips uncomfortably into those 1950s "bad girl" melodramas (High School Hellcats, anyone?) And when a girl proposes the idea of doing drugs again to lose weight, it's almost disturbing until you realize it's intended as a laugh line. One longs for the Natural Born Killers laugh track to expose the teeming hypocrisy of it all.



Bounce Ko Gals

Facts and Figures

Run time: 110 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 18th October 1997

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 53%
Fresh: 8 Rotten: 7

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Jonko, as Raku, as Sap, Shin Yazawa as Maru, as Saki, as Oshima, as Lisa

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