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700 Days of Battle:
Us VS. The Police

A group of high schoolers get their prank on in 700 Days of Battle: Us VS. The Police.
Japanese: ぼくたちと駐在さんの700日戦争
Year: 2008  
Director: Renpei Tsukamoto  

Yuichi Fukada

  Cast: Hayato Ichihara, Kuranosuke Sasaki, Takuya Ishida, Masaki Kaji, Kento Kaku, Tomohiro Waki, Tomotsugu Tomiura, Kumiko Aso, Eri Toyoda, Kotori Narushima
  The Skinny: This film adaptation of a popular “blog novel” is slightly hindered by its episodic structure and an unconvincing leading man. However, it’s funny and entertaining enough to make for a promising start to a potential franchise.
Kevin Ma:
After proving itself as a hit genre in Korean cinema, the “alternative novel” phenomenon has hit Japan. First, it was the film adaptation of teen girl-oriented “cell phone novel” Koizora, which surprisingly became one of the biggest hits of 2007 thanks to a loyal female teen fan base. Now it’s time for popular “blog novel” Bokutachi to Chuzai-san no 700 Nichi Sensou (700 Days of Battle: Us vs. The Police) to get its big screen treatment, courtesy of TV writer/directors Yuichi Fukuda (as writer) and Renpei Tsukamoto (as director). However, the film only draws from the basic setup and one of the blog’s many episodes. With a total of 15 episodes and 700 entries for future adaptation, Bokutachi is a silly, but promising setup of what could be a long-running film franchise.

The adaptation shifts the original’s location from 1970s Yamagata Prefecture to the similarly rural Tochigi prefecture (leading to various Tochigi sight gags throughout). Nevertheless, the setup remains the same: A group of mischievous high school students (led by Mamachari, nicknamed “Granny Bike” in the subtitles and played by Hayato Ichihara) encounters the strict and uptight new cop in town (Kuranosuke Sasaki), who immediately makes everyone play by the rules. Not the type to sit back and be defeated, the group begins a series of juvenile pranks against the policeman, though ultimately with results of little significance. Nevertheless, the officer eventually finds himself brought down to their level with similarly juvenile retaliations, starting a small-town war with no end in sight.

The film’s central battle is based on the chapter “Firework Thieves”, which uses the most overused Asian cinema cliché as the motivation for the group’s most elaborate scheme yet. However, that particular twist doesn’t appear until the third act. Up to that point, 700 Days is an episodic look at the escalation of the war between the teens and the cop. Despite the lack of any real plot progression, the irrelevant and juvenile humor makes the film consistently engaging. Director Tsukamoto even does it with style, making moments of the film literally look like frames of a Japanese comic (the blog was also turned into a popular comic series), thanks to some clever use of CGI. Even though the humor becomes too juvenile and inconsequential for its own good at times (Naoto Takenaka’s cameo solidifies him as Japan’s official answer to Chim Sui Man), Tsukamoto and Fukada keep the laughs coming almost constantly, making for an entertaining comedy.

However, Hayato Ichihara carries with him an uncomfortable vibe that was present in his other performances, which continues to make him an unconvincing leading man. Even though Ichihara does have the requisite teenage awkwardness for Granny Bike, it’s that bumbling awkwardness that highlights his lack of charisma as the group’s courageous leader. On the other hand, Sasaki chews into his antagonistic role, having great fun overacting as the tough-as-nails police officer. The rest of the ensemble also seems to be having a great time, especially Tomotsugu Tomiura as the androgynous Jaime. Tomiura pulls off the character’s femininity so convincingly that the audience is guaranteed to scratch their heads trying to figure out the young actor’s true gender.

As is the case for most Japanese films, length is 700 Days’ second biggest weakness. Even though the film is consistently engaging with its packed doses of humor, the film also turns to inconsequential episodes too often in the name of humor and character development. Characters should be developed concurrently with the plot, but Fukada’s script has too little plot to facilitate the development of each character. As a result, the film grows increasingly episodic, to the point where the transition into the story’s central challenge doesn’t come out of natural plot progression, but seemingly out of a need to get to the third act.

Many fans of the original blog have voiced complaints about the original blog’s insights on the world getting lost in the translation to film. However, inserting any world insight in the middle of a film consisting mostly of inconsequential and juvenile humor would only be a contrived attempt to add poignancy. Any insight into deeper issues is best left to the subsequent installments, when the setup and the major players have been established. With the story only coming to an end recently in blog form, the filmmakers have plenty of material to draw from for a successful franchise. 700 Days is packed with enough likeable characters and broad humor to draw plenty of new fans, even though it failed to achieve commercial success during its theatrical run. While fans of recent indie comedies such as Fine Totally Fine may find the humor in 700 Days too broad for their tastes (how many times can a person slip on the floor before it stops being funny?), this is fun and relatively clean entertainment that deserves broader success. Besides, how else would we find out who wins the war? (Kevin Ma, 2008)


Region 2 NTSC
2-disc Limited Edition
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 2.0
Removable English and Japanese subtitles
Various Extras

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image credit: allcinema Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen