Gokusen: The Movie (2009)

Yukie Nakama, Katsuhisa Namase, Aya Hirayama, Aki Hoshino,
Gokusen: The Movie is a movie starring Yukie Nakama, Katsuhisa Namase, and Aya Hirayama. A young teacher is given the toughest classroom in the school. Based on the TV series.
  • 5.8 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Kozueko Morimoto, Yûko Matsuda, Michiru Egashira, Writer:
  • Tôya Satô, Director:
  • Masatoshi Katô, Producer:
7 / 10

A Nutshell Review: Gokusen

Gokusen is based on a Japanese manga which became a highly popular television drama series, and going by the response of the audience, it's likely that many fans have turned up in droves just to catch the latest installment of their favourite inspirational teacher Yankumi, played in quite a schizophrenic manner by Yukie Naakama, befitting of the character who's balancing her school life with the legacy of who she actually is.

Which is being the heir to the Oedo yakuza family as granddaughter of the boss, primed to take over the family triad business if not for her desire to live her dream, which is to teach. In the television series starring just about the same cast who made it to this film extension, plenty of comedy stem from her attempts at keeping her true identity a secret, despite lapses sometimes in using Gangster lingo, which we do get glimpses of here, but being lost in translation.

Simply put, this story is based upon a typical tale of an inspirational teacher who never stops believing in her students, no matter how hopeless they seem in their academics. We don't get to see a lot of classroom lessons here (almost zilch), but what we do get, is how Yankumi, through her sincere actions and care for her students, win her delinquent charges over, and impart some important life lessons, which will probably propel them further in life, if not setting them out on a clear, strong foundation. Two simple values become what's core, and that's never to lie, and to live life with pride and dignity.

But that doesn't means she's a softie O Captain My Captain. When push comes to shove, her innate abilities to solve things in gangster style, exaggerated of course for comedic effect, means she's never one to shy away from fights, especially completing those started by her students. Metaphorically, it's a fight for her students to wake up their ideas, to keep them from being bullied and to be safe from harm. For her young age, she behaves somewhat like a mother hen, ever protective of her charges, extending the notion of being a teacher for life to all her students, the entire three generations worth which get their respective air time in this feature film.

And that naturally meant that the narrative is split quite evenly, one that addresses her current pupil's problems with a biker gang, one to solve her ex-student's alleged involvement with drug trafficking which formed the bulk all the way to the finale, and one of her earliest students being posted to the Akadou High School as a trainee teacher, where she is currently teaching, thinking that she had inspired him to follow in her footsteps. The film felt that it's providing some closure to some of the earlier drama series, especially in the epilogue where it takes some pains to bring back prominent cast members for a quick canonical updating session.

Those not acquainted with either the television or manga series may feel a little left out when obvious references to those material get made, although it doesn't dictate that prior background knowledge is pre-requisite to enjoy this. To do so, you've to accept that there is room for plenty of quirky, over the top comedy, ranging from deliberate over-acting (especially with Yukie Nakama's act cute antics) to cheesy sound effects that made it look all too cartoony.

Definitely one for the fans, with non-fans able to join in the fun, and probably get their interest piqued in what they've missing out on thus far.

6 / 10

An inspiring movie for educators

This movie is more of a fiction in a realistic setting. Despite that, it gives off that inspiration fot educators to become leaders in unifying the youths and being responsible individuals for themselves and others.

4 / 10

Empty fun

First of all this film is about a teacher who actively involves herself in her troubled student's lives, all while trying to cover that she is apart of a mafia family.

Now I am not a big K-drama, J-drama (TV series from Korea and Japan) fan. I simply do not have the time nor care to dedicate myself to sitting through all the episodes every week for an undetermined course of time till the last episode of the last season. I prefer movies. So I watched the 1st episode of this series just for an idea and I liked it but again, I could not dedicate myself to it.

But I agree with the review from 8thSin from Tokyo/Toronto.

There's two things I remember that made me want to watch the film: the silly, adorable humor of the teacher...and the sexy male faces. But the melodrama is a bit eye rolling, it's another reason I avoid drama series. If I do watch series, it's sitcoms free of sentimentality. But I think I have read and heard constantly that recipes for success in Korea and Japan's shows is dramatic, tearful moments and the music to go along with it.

But it doesn't work for me, so I think that the very...VERY attractive guys in this movie (*VERY*) was to keep at least the females watching, to compensate for a poor plot and idea. I can imagine this was released in Japanese cinemas/theaters and made a lot of money off guys getting dragged to see it and stuck sitting next to their squealing girlfriend or sister or even mom the entire viewing.

Because I even turned the film off. Not even the cute faces could hold me. I tried. But I couldn't endure it any longer. It was funny, laugh out loud funny. Until about 40 minutes in, it just became dull. If I hear her say "my precious students" one more time, I'm going to throw this laptop somewhere. (Did I mention there are so many sexy faces? It's completely irrelevant to what I'm saying but whatever.)

The uneven balance between silly, exaggerated humor, and tear- jerking melodrama, and mediocre martial arts, also threw me off. This film was simply like a long TV-episode.

I also do not know why she loved her students so much, no offense to children. But you don't just love your students to the point of risking your life and job for them. Especially if they're involved in gangs and crime. As realistically portrayed in Memories of Matsuko. However, maybe it's just her character, her personality, but this teddy bear persona that honestly this entire series and film gave to members of the yakuza/mafia, was...strange. However, the yakuza in Japan do not like to be portrayed as monstrous villains. Word on the street is that they ironically rage if you do that.

So all in all, if you like cute guys who coif and cry (a lot), drug dealers who get beat up by a dorky, clumsy female teacher, and yakuza who learn to love, then have at it.