A classic of Japanese cinema? Well, no. But as fun, campy adventure movies go, this is a really nice one. The movie is based on a successful Japanese TV series in mid-1980's Japan (itself based on a manga of the early 1970's by Wada Shinji), in which tough, delinquent (but not too delinquent) high school girls work as secret agents investigating crimes for some weird branch of the police (hence the title: "sukeban"="juvenile delinquent girl" and "deka"="detective"). In the TV series, there were three Sukeban Deka agents (after one retired, another took her place when a new threat to Japan/the world showed up), each of which used a distinctive yo-yo weapon in addition to good old punches and kicks. The main character in this movie is Sukeban Deka #2 (played by Minamino Yoko), who is rejoined by her cohorts Kyoko (Sagara Haruko) and Yukino (Yoshizawa Akie) and teamed up with her successor #3 (Asaka Yui).
In the movie, Sukeban Deka #2 and the other girls are all trying to lead normal lives--you know, graduate high school, get into college, work part-time jobs, study abroad, and all that. But of course fate throws a monkey wrench into these well-laid plans. They discover that at a boot camp reform school on an isolated island in Tokyo Bay the school principal is in fact training the kids to be neo-fascist paramilitary shock troops whom he plans to lead in a coup d'etat of Japan. Naturally the heroic young ladies have to stop him and rescue the kids (at least the ones who haven't been totally brainwashed by this sort of Mishima Yukio-esque program of "tough love"), dealing with a host of challenges and set-backs and squaring off against a seemingly impervious principal and his army of villains.
This movie being based on a prior TV show, the moviemakers assume some knowledge of the characters on the viewer's part and so they don't work too hard to establish the characters' personalities and back stories here, though some judicious flashbacks and conversational references more or less do the job. Still, some scenes must be just plain cryptic to anyone who never saw the show--for example, at the end, two unidentified girls never before seen in the movie abruptly show up and congratulate Sukeban Deka #3 (these are Kazama Yuka (Onishi Yuka) and Kazama Yuma (Nakamura Yuma), SD#3's cohorts)*. It must be admitted too that some of the action scenes are somewhat implausible or a bit clumsily done...but frankly, that actually adds to the enjoyment.
The movie is unrated, but there's nothing in the movie that wouldn't be Rated PG here in the States. Just good, clean, campy fun.
*For anyone interested, if you have a region 2 DVD player and can comprehend spoken Japanese reasonably well, the entire Sukeban Deka TV series is available at amazon.co.jp. There are five DVD sets for each of the three Sukeban Deka incarnations, making for fifteen in all (most of which are double sets).