Classic Japanese Exploitation (pinky violence & pink)

China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Thailand, etc.
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Unread post by HungFist » 05 Jun 2008, 00:29

Path of the Beast (Shoujo shofu: kemonomichi) (1980)

It’s strange, I’ve been a bit disappointed with many of Kumashiro’s most celebrated classics, but found some real treasures among his less appreciated films. Path of the Beast is one of them. It’s a terrific character drama that uses one of my favourite character close ups; long takes. While the whole film is filled with long takes, there’s at least half dozen instances where Kumashiro allows the camera roll more than four minutes continously. This is of course challenging for the actors, but they succeed rather well. Especially the leading lady, Ayako Yoshimura, is terrific and her acting is good by any standards. The cinematography is amazing and captures loads incredibly beautiful images. The theme muisc leaves no room for complaints. Only a handful of ’not so vital for the story’ sex scenes reveal that this, too, originates from Nikkatsu’s exploitation factory.

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Unread post by HungFist » 14 Jun 2008, 10:21

Attacked (Osou!) (1978)

A shy, raped policewoman becomes obsessed with capturing the criminal and starts using herself as a bait in Yasuhare Hasebe’s pink thriller. The idea is somewhat interesting and clearly more ambitious than the cheap rape and sm movies by some other directors. Here the main character is a victim, but willingly exposes herself to further danger. Unfortunately the execution is left a bit halfway, and never comes close to reaching the psychological depth of the greatest Nikkatsu film (such as Tanaka’s Beauty’s Exotic Dance: Torture).

The visual side is okay - with some nice images and framing here and there - but not as violently graphic as you might expect. For some reason Hasebe, who undeniably is a talented filmmaker, has decided to include more sex than the Nikkatsu guidelines require. The soundtrack by Ludwig van Beethoven however is pretty cool, and the ending goes against genre conventions to some extent. A little disappointing but interesting film, one of the better ones of its kind.

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Unread post by HungFist » 14 Jun 2008, 10:22

Secret Chronicle: Prostitute Torture Hell (Maruhi: Joro Seme Jigoku) (1973)

There’s no denying Noboru Tanaka was one of the better Japanese directors of the 70’s. From a technical point of view he’d be almost sure to deliver quality film each time. But he also had a tendency for these distant, dialogue loaded dramas that always seem to score with the critics (A Woman Called Abe Sada being another example). Prostitute Torture Hell stars Rie Nakagawa as a prostitute known as ”death bringer” after many of her customers have died mysteriously. Needless to say the business isn’t blooming for her. As usual for Tanaka’s films, the film mixes sexploitation and arthouse, the emphasis being on the latter. There’s a couple of visual standout scenes, but most of the film consists of dialogue.

Prostitute Torture Hell is the middle part in the Secret Chronicle trilogy. The first film, Prostitution Market, directed by Chusei Sone, was a hilarious comedy. Tanaka’s sequel however is a very serious affair with a handful of dark humour. Tanaka also directed the excellent final film, She Beast Market, which was set to modern day and shot in black and white. The (english) title of Prostitute Torture Hell is accurate but misleading; it’s symbolic. There is no torture as Nikkatsu audiences would understand the term. The movie also goes by a commonly used alternate title; Hell Fated Courtesan.

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Unread post by HungFist » 16 Jun 2008, 16:38

Eros Schedule Book Concubine Secrets: Tattoo Contest (Irogoyomi ooku hiwa irezumi hyaku-nin kurabe) (1972)

Eros Schedule Book was one of Nikkatsu’s very first Meisaku Roman franchises and ran a total of 9 instalments (from 1971 to 1974). Tattoo Contest, directed by Yukihiko Kondo, was the third film in the series. I haven’t seen any the preceeding or succeeding parts and this movie offers little motivation to do so. It’s a very decent looking period film, but the catch is missing. The film lacks originality and feels breathless (not breastless, the cinematographer obviously has much love for female assets). The only sparks of hope come in form of some tattoo related scenes. Unfortunately the dealing of this subject, too, leaves a lot to be desired. Watch Teruo Ishii’s striking Toei film Inferno of Torture (which also deals with tattoos) for the fourth time instead.

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Unread post by HungFist » 16 Jun 2008, 16:40

Showa Woman: Naked Rashomon (Showa onnamichi: Rashomon) (1972)

Despite the title, this Chusei Sone film bears little in common with Kurosawa’s classic Rashomon... not to mention only part of the film is set in the Showa period. The movie begins as a rather dry pink drama about marquis Katsuragawa (Hideaki Ezumi) whose prostitute mistress (Hitomi Kozue) bears him twins. After giving birth she takes the baby girl with her and leaves the boy to Katsuragawa. This is when the movie gets interesting. After 19 years Katsuragawa finally meets his daughter for the first time. Soon after the twins also meet each other by chance - without knowing they that they are actually are related – and fall in love.

Naked Rashomon is not your standard Nikkatsu offering. The surreal scenes and twists make the film more challenging than most genre films. Unlike many other Meisaku Roman productions this one requires some concentration. Taking a quick look at credits explains some of the content and style; Sone started his career as Seijun Suzuki’s assistant director, while screenwriter Atsushi Yamatoya wrote Branded to Kill. There’s also an interesting twist in the cast; Ezumi and Kozue both appear in double roles; they play both the parents and their children.

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Unread post by HungFist » 16 Jun 2008, 16:53

Rape! 13th Hour (Reipu 25-ji: Bokan) (1977)

Serial rapist takes a student while being chased by a homosexual gang whose leader had become a victim of his. You don’t see synopsis like that every day. Director Yasuharu Hasebe (who was originally reluctant to follow Nikkatsu to pink cinema, but eventually ended up helming some of the genre’s most notorious achievements) continues to explore his favourite theme; a sudden change (to worse) in a norman person. In Assault! Jack the Ripper a nice guy restaurant worker turned into a mass murderer after being provoked by his girlfriend. Attacked was a story of a shy female cop who became obsessed with capturing the man who raped him and started using her own body as a bait. In Rape! 13th Hour a criminal forces a gas station worker to follow him till he discovers the pleasures of forced entry.

Rape! 13th Hour goes pretty far. Far enough for the studio themself to think they had gone too far. However, I’d imagine the fuss was mostly for the ultra violent last 10 minutes. Which is still not to say the rest of the movie is happy go lucky entertainment. What it is, however, is an extremely slick thriller. Hasebe often accompanies violent images with classical music and here the effect really works, sometimes up to the perfection. The film also moves at fast pace with the secondary main characters not only being a hunter himself but also prey to gang that has swore to capture him. The actual main character (the gas station worker) is partly a bystander, but also has a chance to part in the action whenever he wants to. This gives the movie more depth.

Although it’s not a psychological deep analysis that Hasebe aims at, the film feels more accomplished than the director's previous film, Assault! Jack the Ripper (1976), which had an enormous amout of potential but sacrificed half of it in the pink shrine. 13th Hour aims a little lower, but hits the target accurately and feels more compact. Every sex and rape scene is written into the story and has their effect on the character developement. Hasebe is not afraid to occasionally drift further away from the usual pink ”entertainment”. Acting is good enough and lacks the camp factor for the most part. Yudai Ishiyama is almost horrifyingly believable in the lead role. Genre fans may spot Asami Ogawa, the lead of Hasebe’s later film Attacked (1978), as one of the victims.

Rape! 13th Hour is often mentioned as the most extreme of Nikkatsu’s violent pink films (the critical disapproval actually lead the studio to tone down their violent pink line for a few years, until the genre returned with Koyu Ohara’s Zoom Up: Rape Site in 1979). The wild reputation is a bit exaggerated, though; the violence and rapes are not overly graphic and there’s a tiny bit a dark humour to be found. The storyline and plot twists however are more or less questionable, and what’s worse, thought provoking. Metaphors for the state of the Japanese 1970’s movie industry are also not hard to find, even if the director himself denies them.

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Unread post by HungFist » 16 Jun 2008, 17:05

Poster scan for Yukihiro Sawada’s terrific cop film Retreat Through the Wet Wasteland

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I’m taking a break. Don’t expect updates anytime soon.

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Unread post by eddyospina » 18 Jun 2008, 17:55

Thanks for all the reviews recently, they make for very interesting reading on a genre (Roman Porno) I knew very little about. I don't know whether I'd be tempted to get any of them on DVD but academically it's of great interest to me. Especially since I just finished reading Mark Schilling's book on Nikkatsu Action Cinema which covers the period right up to the start of their Roman Porno era. It also has some really nice glossy pictures of poster art and such.

I'm sure you've noticed already but Toei have annouced their September DVD line up and it seems they'll release 4 of the New Abashiri movies (11-14 of the series) in September. I assume the final 4 (15-18 ) will be coming out in the next few months.

I hope you have the chance to do some more reviews in the not-too-distant future!

Looking forward to the Zubeko and Sukeban Blues films in August! :D

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Unread post by HungFist » 19 Jul 2008, 08:26

Mondo Macabro goes pink; Assault: Jack the Ripper and Watcher in the Attic coming 2008-10-28.

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- http://www.avmaniacs.com/forums/showthread.php?t=24123
- http://www.avmaniacs.com/forums/showthread.php?t=36998
- http://www.kfccinema.com/

Here's what else Mondo Macabro has

• Naked Rashomon (Showa onnamichi: Rashomon, Dir. Chusei Sone, 1973)
• Sins of Sister Lucia (Sudojo Lucia: kegasu, Dir. Koyu Ohara, 1978)
• Female Prisoner: Caged (Joshû orii, Dir. Masaru Konuma, 1983)
• The Marquis De Sade's Prosperities of Love (Akutoku no sakae, Dir. Akio Jissoji, 1988)

- http://www.cultmovieforums.com/forum/sh ... hp?t=14314

As I said in my mini-review, Naked Rashomon is an interesting film that is in a need of subtitles. Sins of Sister Lucia (Sister Lucia's Dishonor) is described in wiki as "pop-art influenced nunsploitation film involving lesbianism and torture in a convent." It's been on my shopping list for a longer time. Ohara is the man who directed Pink Hip Girl, one of my favourite Nikkatsu RP and youth films in general.

Female Prisoner: Caged I'm not very familiar with. I have a sort of love/hate relationship with Konuma, leaning towards hate. Most of his films I have found disgusting (Flower and Snake, Woman in the Box, Noble Lady) but some have been impressive (Image of a Bound Girl, Woman in the Box II).

The Marquis De Sade's Prosperities of Love I don't believe is a Nikkatsu roman porno film but something they produced briefly after shutting down the actual RP factory. I haven't seen any films by Akio Jissoji but he's quite popular among cult film fans.

So, Mondo Macabro has done some good looking choises, although I wish they had gone for something that isn't out on R2J already. But I guess they wanted films that have been readily remastered and have enough cult appeal (which rules out some if the greatest RP's like Somai's Love Hotel).

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Here's the current top 5 films Hung wants to see get released on dvd.

1. Pink Hip Girl 2&3 (Momojiri musume) (桃尻娘) (1979-1980)
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2. Rape Hunter: Target Woman (Rape Hunter: Nerawareta Onna) (レイプハンター 狙われた女) (1980) and other unreleased films by Yukihiro Sawada
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3. Rape And Death Of A Housewife (Hitozuma Shudan Boko Chishi Jiken) (1978) (人妻集団暴行致死事件) (Noboru Tanaka)
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4. Red Violation (Akai Boko) (赤い暴行) (1980) (Chusei Sone)
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5. Female Ninja Magic: 100 Trampled Flowers (くノ一淫法 百花卍がらみ) (Kunoichi Ninpo: Hyakka Manji-garimi) (1974) (Chusei Sone)
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Unread post by HungFist » 29 Jul 2008, 16:12

Dolls of the Shogun's Harem (Ooku jyuhakkei) (1986)

Beautiful flower fields, shogun’s luxorous inner palace, young topless women pulling the rope for the fun of one man... Obviously an early 70’s Norifumi Suzuki entertainment piece, a film from the time before he filled the screen with modern day girl gangs, long before he went truck crazy with Bunta Sugawara, or had discovered the cheesy ninja movies of the following decade. But wait, Dolls of the Shogun’s Harem is a 1986 film. What the hell?

Watching Dolls of the Shogun’s Harem may bring up some nostalgic feelings. This is the kind of movie Toei was churning out during the golden years of their pink cinema. Suzuki himself directed a very similar production in 1972, Lustful Shogun and His 21 Mistresses. A few years later Suzuki, the uncrowned king of Toei pink, left the genre to become a highly succesful mainstream director. Dolls of the Shogun’s Harem is his return to majestetic, pink coloured period drama.

The first 5 minutes offer a perfect introduction to the film. The shogun’s rabbit hunting afternoon is interrupted when he spots a beautiful woman bathing under a waterfall. He chases the scared woman through the blossoming flower valley in a colourful scene that is borderline corny, and captures her at the top of the hill. As he takes the woman by force the camera pans back slowly, ultimately to ending up to several kilometer’s distance and revealing the surrounding mountain landscapes. Catchy theme song accompanies opening credits.

Suzuki and Toei always knew how to make grand scale exploitation with limited budget. But Dolls is more restrained – some have even called it realistic, although I wouldn’t go quite that far – than the genre’s classic achievements from the previous decades. Some of the edge has been lost, no doubt. Sex is as plentiful as before. But the director has learnt some new tricks as well. Easily the most impressive element in the film is the terrific soundtrack, heavy on soft rock.

Action is sparse. There is only one brief sword fight in the film, plus a highly stylized torture scene that brought Dario Argento’s art of killing to my mind. It is the sex, talk and dazzling dresses that dominate the film. An decent enough if not overly thrilling mix, but at 115 minutes the film could do with some trimming. This was not left unnoticed by the international distibutor, who managed lose 17 minutes of footage before the subtitles were attached to the print. Good idea, only that the film went from lengthy into shreds; many of the best scenes were removed, continuety problems appeared, and large proportions of the fantastic score were lost.

Toei’s 2007 dvd release features the Japanese version (comparison here) of the film, running 115 minutes. Image quality and extras (trailer, stills) are your standard Toei offering. The excellent original trailer is notable for featuring loads of footage shot only promotional purposes. As all ”recent” Toei releases, the cover art is one sided with no stills on the reverse side (this unfortunate change took place sometime between December 2006 and June 2007). The good looking cover art is a slightly altered version of the theatrical poster.

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Unread post by HungFist » 07 Aug 2008, 20:42

Gendai poruno-den: senten-sei inpu (1971)

Can Norifumi Suzuki make a bad movie? Probably not. But a rather modest one, yes. Modern Porno Tale is one of the pink films he directed before the audience started demanding wild action and biker girls. As most erotic dramas, it’s not an overly exciting film. But it does benefit from the talent involved. Suzuki knows how to edit and use music, and of course he’s brought the whole Toei pink cast with him. Reiko Ike, young as damn here, is in the lead. Yoko Mihara plays her mother (suddenly the title makes so much sense), Asao Koike a foolish yakuza, and Fumio Watanabe... ah, I forgot who he played. The French sex kitten Sandra Julien, whose encounter with Reiko didn’t pass the Japanese censorship without heavy cuts, makes a memorable 20 minute visit around the halfway. Oh, and in the opening scene we have Reiko and Miki Sugimoto having lesbian sex. Miki disappears from the film once the opening credits have rolled.

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Unread post by HungFist » 07 Aug 2008, 20:51

Tokugawa sekkusu kinshi-rei: shikijô daimyô (1972)

Sandra Julien’s Japan holiday continues, with kimono (un)attached. This time she’s also in for some rougher treatement as director Suzuki has remembered to include some violence in the film. That of course results, in one way or another, from the infamous sex ban suggested by the title. For the most part, however, Tokugawa Sex Ban is an easy going pink comedy with only a few more violent moments. These include the most absurd suicide scene you’ve ever seen. Suzuki’s camerawork and use of music is also guaranteed to deliver enjoyable moments of complete confusion. Little puns at christianity are includes as usual.

Nevertheless, as a whole Tokugawa Sex Ban is far from Suzuki wildest work and also not on par with Lustful Shogun and His 21 Mistresses, but entertaining enough to deserve a one time viewing. The cast is solid. Julien’s extensive role was the main selling point in the film’s marketing campaign, and the ever reliable Fumio Watanabe appears in good supporting role. His character starts out quite nice but later he gets to be his usual evil himself. The Japanese female lead is Miki Sugimoto, but she gets so little screentime that it is be appropriate to label her as supporting actress rather than star.

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Unread post by HungFist » 08 Aug 2008, 18:49

Next up is Meiko Kaji x 5, the Stray Cat Rock series. At first I wasn’t sure if I should post them here or in the ”jp cult cinema” thread. None of the movies are as exploitative as almost everything else I’ve reviewed here. However, three of the five films fall under the pinky violence category, so this thread seemed like the most logical home for the series.

I’ve also been meaning to have these Toei and Nikkatsu review waves, and not mix them up like this (the contrast to those Suzuki sex romps is pretty damn high). But since I’ll be reviewing a couple of Delinquent Girl Boss and Sukeban Blues films in the near future - both series heavily influenced by the Stray Cat Rock films – I think it’s best to get the Cats out of the way first.

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Unread post by HungFist » 08 Aug 2008, 18:56

Stray Cat Rock: Girl Boss (Nora neko rokku: Onna banchou) (1970)

Nikkatsu studios faced serious financial problems and drifted to roman porno in late 1971, but for the years before that they kept churning out some of the hippiest crime and gangster films in the world. Male super stars like Akira Kobayashi and Jo Shishido had dominated the box office, but now it was time for a more feminine approach. The five part Stray Cat Rock series set the trend for delinquent girl action films. Other studios, especially Toei with their sexed up pinky violence films, would follow Nikkatsu’s example.

Unlike many of the exploitative girl gang films of the 70’s, Stray Cat Rock does not lean on sex and sleaze. Girl Boss contains no graphic sex or nudity whatsoever. Instead the mix is as follows; tough as nails delinquent girls, fast action, fashion, motorbikes and almost non-stop good music, including on screen performances by bands such as The Mops and Andre Candre. A celluloid recording of the early 70’s rock n’ roll feel in Japan in other words.

The storyline kicks off when a new girl (Akiko Wada) rides into the town. She immediately gets in bad terms with the Seiyu gang, and makes friends with a local girl group lead by Meiko Kaji. Things get more complicated when Meiko’s boyfriend (Koji Wada) decides he wants to join the Seiyu gang. He’s given simple terms; to talk over his friend, a boxer played by Ken Sanders, to lose a boxing match. If everything goes well, he will receive a full membership and the gang will make loads money with bets. If not, he will lose his life.

Although often recalled as Meiko Kaji movies, she is not the lead actress but a supporting player in the first film. The real heroine is ’pop star turned actress’ Akiko Wada, who plays her role in the similar fashion as Reiko Oshida in her Toei movies. She’s not quite on par, but good enough to carry the film. Her songs are not quite on par with the rest of the soundtrack, though. Kaji and the other girls – often wearing sunglasses size of a football – give good support. Tatsuya Fuji, the future star of In The Realm of Senses, gives a good villain performance simply by looking arrogant and laughing like a madman.

Another important cast member that needs to be mentioned is the vehicles. These girls don’t walk, they ride a motorcycle. From the opening scenes to the last frames motorcycles are found in almost every outdoor scene. There’s enough ”girls on bikes” shots to make a promotional photobook. Also worth mentioning is the red Daihatsu Beach Buggy that Tatsuya Fuji’s character is crazy about. A classic scene shows Fuji chasing our heroines Wada and Kaji through the underground passages of the Shinjuku Station. Try getting a permission to shoot such a scene today!!!

Girl Boss was directed by Yasuharu Hasebe, who had already been delivering Nikkatsu with several stylish action films in the late 60’s. Later in the 70’s he became know for his violent pink roughies, but Stray Cat Rock remains his most remarkable achievement. Although Girl Boss isn’t as wild and technically cutting edge as some of the later films in the genre, it’s a quite a thrilling piece of pop cinema. Hasebe later returned to helm two more instalments, parts 3 and 4, with the remain two going to Toshiya Fujita (Lady Snowblood)

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Unread post by HungFist » 09 Aug 2008, 10:21

Stray Cat Rock: Wild Jumbo (Nora neko rokku: Wild jumbo) (1970)

The five film Stray Cat Rock series was completed within 6 months. This was made possible by using two directors, Yasuharu Hasebe and Toshiya Fujita, who were both working at the same time. The cast and crew was basically running between the sets. What makes this all the more interesting is that Fujita and Hasebe were making very different kind of films. The original movie, directed by Hasebe, was a girl gang film gone disco mode. Fujita’s follow up Wild Jumbo is an enjoyable youth film with minor crime movie elements introduced during the second half. Three important actors from the first movie return; Meiko Kaji, Tatsuya Fuji, and Bunjaku Han. They are all equal characters, although Kaji’s jeans and white bikini top combination tends to be a scene stealer. Fuji plays his role in similar fashion as in the first film – including the mad laughter – but he’s now a good guy instead of a villain. Akiko Wada is gone, thankfully, apart from some stock footage and songs from Girl Boss which are clearly the film's weakest point. Most of the movie consists of 6 friends – or gang members to be exact although they are hardly involved in any kind of criminal activity – slacking around and riding a green jeep. Finally one of the members (Takeo Chii) comes up with a shortcut to richness.

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Unread post by HungFist » 09 Aug 2008, 12:20

Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter (Nora neko rokku: Sex Hunter) (1970)

Girl gang swing is back – to some extent at least – in the third Stray Cat Rock film which is considered the best in the series by many. After Toshiya Fujita’s youth oriented Wild Jumbo Yasuharu Hasebe returns the series closer to its origins. The title – Sex Hunter – is of course a marketing gimmic by the Nikkatsu Studios – there are no sex hunters in the film. Instead the storyline is about half-breed Japanese man (Rikiya Yasuoka before he gained weight) caught up between a violent racist gang (Tatsuya Fuji back in a villain role) and a group of tough girls (led by Meiko Kaji). It was quite rare to have such strong and critical racism theme in a Japanese mainstream film in the early 70’s. Furthermore, a large portion of the music heard in Sex Hunter is performed by the girl band Golden Half, which consisted of five members who all had American father and Japanese mother. The music and club scenes create good contrast for the heavier content. For Meiko Kaji Sex Hunter was the first Stray Cat Rock movie in which she played the central character. Kaji’s performance is not among her best, but the character is surprisingly unsympathetic, making it more interesting, or at least original, than many other sukeban heroines. Bunjaku Han, who appears in all other films in the series, is sadly absent from the cast.

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Unread post by HungFist » 10 Aug 2008, 16:41

Stray Cat Rock: Machine Animal (Nora neko rokku: Machine Animal) (1970)

The fourth and best Stray Cat Rock film deals with drugs and freedom. Two Japanese men help a Vietnam war runaway to flee from Japan. Their plan is to sell LSD pills to finance their trip to Sweden, but as word spreads different gangs become interested in gaining possession of the drugs, preferably without paying. Director Hasebe’s previous film Sex Hunter strongly criticized racism in Japan. Machine Animal also deals with foreign people in Japan, but this time the approach is almost entirely positive. When the American runaway (played by Japanese actor Toshiya Yamano) arrives Yokohama he’s immediately welcomed and taken to bowling alley to have fun. Even the villains treat him as human being rather than gaijin garbage. This same positive spirit applies to the entire film. The soundtrack is perhaps the best in the series – or at least most even. Zoo Nee Voo’s Hitori no kanashimi – on which Ozaki Kiyohiko’s beloved classic Until We Meet Again (Mata au hi made) was based on – is featured in one of the film’s numerous, psychedelic club scenes. The main star Meiko Kaji also gets to do a little bit of singing, but her main task is to look endlessly cool (or silly, depending on your taste) wearing a white dress and black hat. The supporting roles star Bunjaku Han as the Dragon Gang leader, Eiji Go as evil motorcycle villain, and Tatsuya Fuji as a quiet, spectacled good guy – an exact opposite from his vicious bad guy role in Sex Hunter. Rival studio Toei followed Nikkatsu’s example some months later; their Delinquent Girl Boss: Ballad of Yokohama Hoods (1971) borrows heavily from Machine Animal. Although Toei ultimately won the girl gang battle, they were still a step behind Nikkatsu in 1970 when it came to youthful action films.

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Unread post by HungFist » 10 Aug 2008, 16:48

Stray Cat Rock: Beat ’71 (Nora neko rokku: Bôsô shudan '71) (1971)

Toshiya Fujita brings the five film Stray Cat Rock series to a highly enjoyable end. Like his previous instalment, Wild Jumbo, Beat ’71 is an easy going youth drama that does not follow Yasuharu Hasebe’s wild gang film path. Instead Fujita deals with social issues. The film follows a hippie community lead by Yoshitaro (Yoshio Harada). They decide to leave their trailer in Shinjuku and travel to countryside by bicycle to save their friend Furiko (Meiko Kaji) who has been falsely accused for murder. The real killer – although it was mainly self defense – is Furiko’s boyfried Takaaki (Takeo Chii) who is being controlled by his politician father. Takaaki would rather live free as a hippie, but his father is forcing him to become a businessman. When Furiko’s friends arrive the small town the concervative villagers try to run them away. They only get sympathy from a traveling rock band (The Mops). The conflict eventually takes them to an old mine that has been turned into a Wild West theme park. A fitting and symbolic conclusion to a sries of films that was one of Nikkatsu’s last iconic products before their financial crash and transition from youthful action films to pink cinema.

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Unread post by HungFist » 10 Aug 2008, 16:50

Nikkatsu released the whole series on dvd in 2007. The films are available individually as well as in a 6 disc box set. The bonus disc features one and half hours of interviews with Yasuharu Hasebe, Tatsuya Fuji and Yoshio Harada. The cover arts are also reversible, with original posters on the reverse side. The individual releases do not feature reversible cover art. Extras are similar on each disc; stills gallery (10 pics), biographies and original trailer (Beat ’71 also features teaser)

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Picture quality varies a little bit. The first three film look good especially in daylight scenes, but not quite crystal clear during some of the night scenes. Nevertheless, compared to HVE’s R1 Sex Hunter dvd these all look far better. The last two films fare best and look very good throughout. No real problems with audio although sometimes I felt the music could’ve had a bit more punch. But overall good work from Nikkatsu.

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Great series for anyone interested in early 70’s Japanese pop culture. Exploitation fans should be warned, though, that these are very light on sex, and the violence isn’t especially graphic either. Sex Hunter is the most violent of the films. While Hasebe’s movies can be considered pinky violence (if you want to extend the term to cover non-Toei movies), Fujita’s films really can not. There was some talk about R1 releases by a mystery company years ago, but it seems like the rumours are dead now. Sex Hunter is available from HVE, though, and compared here.

Girl Boss
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Wild Jumbo
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Sex Hunter
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Machine Animal
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Beat '71
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Unread post by HungFist » 24 Aug 2008, 12:09

The Delinquent Girl Boss series (1970-1971)

I have reviewed two of the films before but now that the whole series is finally available on dvd I wanted to revisit them and review them in a bunch. Caps for the previously reviewed films are the same as before, but the text is new and (only) slighly more knowledgable. Delinquent Girl Boss made its dvd debut back in 2005 when Panik House released Worthless to Confess (part 4) in their four film Pinky Violence Box set. Their colourful, sharp and edge enhancement free transfer was close to perfection, and there was also more extras (Chris D commentary, trailer, bios, stills, text info) than on Toei dvds. The dvd has remained exclusive to the box set despite some other films in the collection being released separately afterwards

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Next in line was Blossoming Night Dreams (part 1) that received a R1 release by Exploitation Digital in 2007. The transfer was soft but otherwise quite alright. Stills and a horrible new trailer was included as extras. Parts 2 and 3 only came available in August 2008 when Toei put the whole series on dvd. I only bought the two films I was missing, but judging by the transfer quality, there probably isn’t need to upgrade with 1 (unless you want the original trailer that is missing from the R1) and especially 4 (as Panik House’s dvd is pretty unbeatable). More specific comments about Toei at the end of Tokyo Drifters review.

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Unread post by HungFist » 24 Aug 2008, 12:12

Delinquent Girl Boss: Blossoming Night Dreams (Zubeko bancho: Yume wa yoro hirakua) (1970)

The Delinquent Girl Boss series was most likely intended as Toei’s answer to Nikkatsu’s popular Stray Cat Rock movies (1970-1971) as well as sister series to Toei's own Furyo Bancho series. The girl gang films were pop, but not yet too down and dirty. Music, fashion and energetic performances by the female leads mattered more than sex and nudity. Action was not forgotten either. The four film series was helmed by Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, who later gained worldwide popularity with his karate flicks (Karate Bull Fighter, Which is Stronger: Karate or the Tiger etc) and female oriented action films like Sister Streetfighter and Wandering Ginza Butterfly.

Blossoming Night Dreams is about a young delinquent girl (Reiko Oshida) who’s tired of being mistreated due to her criminal past. She quits her job in a laundry shop and starts working as a waitress in a Shinjuku bar. It turns out all the girls working there, including the owner (Junko Miyazono), a have their roots in Akagi girls reform school. They’re now trying honest living, but a greedy yakuza boss (Nobuo Kaneko with the silliest moustache) is after the bar and making thing difficult. More problems are caused by a local girl gang who think they own the streets as they have the yakuza backing them up.

Although the opening makes you expect something slightly more exploitative the film is generally very bright and easy going. This despite there being a few darker turns like an off screen rape and drug addiction theme. These scenes however are clearly in the minority. The amount of humour rather high, even if it’s not always of the most intelligent type. The club scenes work well, too, and there’s a nice music performance by singer Keiko Fuji. The film’s last third is a bit weaker than what comes before but it doesn’t take away much from the overall enjoyment.

Action scenes are included but there aren’t too many of them. There’s a knife fight between Oshida and the leader of the other gang (you can find a similar scene in most girl gang films, including Stray Cat Rock). Some smaller brawls come along the way but the biggest fight is saved till the end. It’s not really bad but clearly first time director Yamaguchi was not yet at the top of his game. The scene benefits from the charismatic performers, but the action choreography itself is nothing to get excited about. All of the Delinquent Girl Boss sequels feature notably better ending fights.

One of the factors behind the success of the series was its leading lady, Reiko Oshida. She was already a familiar face to Toei fans due to her suppoting roles in films such as Quick Draw Okatsu and a couple of Furyo bancho instalments. Her acting style was a combination of overflowing energy and positive delinquent girl attitude. Plus she was both pretty and had a voice nice enough make it as a singer (she releases a couple of records in the early 70's). Unlike many of her colleagues she didn’t have to take her clothes off to attract viewers.

Like Oshida, many of the supporting actors went to star in all or most of the sequels. Masumi Tachibana and Tonpei Hidari usually appeared as a couple, with Hidari’s lovable loser character always getting bullied by the girls. Yukie Kagawa, probably familiar to most viewers from Teruo Ishii films, had a couple of different roles but she plays Mari in most of the movies. Hayato Tani appears as Oshida’s childhood friend in parts one and three. Junko Miyazano and Tatsuo Umemiya, both giving solid performances here, didn’t return to the series after this film.

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Unread post by HungFist » 24 Aug 2008, 12:19

Delinquent Girl Boss: Tokyo Drifters (Zubeko bancho: Tokyo nagaremono) (1970)

The second part in the series feels a bit like a quick cash in on the success of the original... although that’s not to say it’s a bad movie. It’s quite an enjoyable film actually, if you’re a genre fan that is. The main problem is that it’s missing a proper storyline. Between the awesome reform school opening and stylish action finale there isn’t a whole lot happening. Director Yamaguchi relies a bit too much on humour and general ’hanging out with the characters’. Almost all darker content has been dropped from the film, and the exploitation elements, that were already brief in the previous film, have been further toned down; the violence is mostly bloodless, and there is only brief nudity, always in comical context.

The film would also benefit from having more music, although there’s a couple of more memorable tunes and one decent on screen performance. Thankfully the cast compensates enough to bring the weaker parts to the positive side. Reiko Oshida is endlessly adorable, a real delight among Toei’s other, sluttier female action stars. Most of the supporting actors are familiar from the first film, but there’s also a couple of first timers like Akira Oizumi in a very small but funny supporting role. Tsunehiko Watase deserves a mention as well. His character is a obvious Ken Takakura clone, but he pulls it off so well that it’s a pleasure to watch him on screen.

The Toei dvd continues their new tradition of soft transfers. The image shows its age, but hasn’t been digitally worsened with things like edge enhancement. Compared to Exploitation Digital’s Blossoming Night Dreams this is about the same, but nowhere near Panik House’s Worthless to Confess dvd. It’s also a notch below Toei’s transfer for part 3. Extras are the usual ones with stills gallery and original trailer. The trailer is valuable for fans as it comes with a good amount of promo shots and clips from deleted scenes (like an extra scene with the pervert doctor doing a medical check up).

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Original trailer
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Last edited by HungFist on 24 Aug 2008, 12:47, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread post by HungFist » 24 Aug 2008, 12:41

Delinquent Girl Boss: Ballad of Yokohama Hoods (Zubeko bancho: Hamagure kazoe uta) (1971)

As the title suggests, and appart from the usual reform school intro, the third film takes place in Yokohama. The harbour town comes a fresh change from the usual Tokyo City views. Similarly to the other films in the series, Yokohama Hoods begins with Rika (Reiko Oshida) looking for work after being released by the the freedom stealing authorities that always seem to catch her sometime between the end of the previous film and the beginning of the next. And, as usual, she soon finds a new home under an ex-yakuza and tries honest living. But things are bound to go wrong.

Director Yamaguchi stumbled a bit with the second film, but now he returns the series to top form. The storyline is better written, there’s more music and characters are more interesting. Veteran baddie Asao Koike gives his usual solid villain performance, with some nice bits in the end, but it’s Yukie Kagawa who really steals the show. Unlike in the rest of the films here she plays Oshida’s opponent. And it’s a complete success. Kagawa, as a leader of a girl biker gang, dressed in black leather and always carrying a whip with her, is quite a sight.

Reiko Oshida is her usual self in the lead role; charming in other words. There are no strong male characters in the film (both Tsunehiko Watase and Tatsuo Umemiya are having their week off) although Hayato Tani and Tonpei Hidari return in suporting roles. A bit amusingly Hidari (the film’s comic relief) has been coupled with pinky violence bad mama Yoko Mihara, who somehow manages to keep her clothes on throughout the film (although her dress is constantly one inch from falling down). Speaking of which, there’s no nudity in the film; the concept is strong enough to work without added eye candy.

Ballad of Yokohama Hoods reminds a bit of Nikkatsu’s late 1970 Stray Cat Rock entry Machine Animal (released just 4 months prior to this film). Both films share the seaside setting, biker gangs, musical performances, and also themes of foreign people in Japan. Just like Meiko Kaji’s gang in Machine Animal, Oshida with her friends here ends up helping a US army deserter. The similarities however are not overly striking and by no means hurt the film. The Stray Cat Rock films were also slightly more serious in dealing with these issues, while Yokohama Hoods aims purely at entertainment values and doesn’t attempt to make any social points.

Yokohama Hoods holds up throughout, but the real bomb comes right at the end. The big action finale, packed with motorcycles, machine guns and samurai swords, is the most satisfying ending in the series. Worthless to Confess comes as a close second, although all things considered it’s a slightly better movie. Another area where Yokohama Hoods has the edge over Worthless to Confess is the theme song; it’s by Reiko Oshida herself. It may not be one of her best songs, but it’s always nice to have the leading lady perform the theme, especially when it’s someone like Oshida who can actually sing.

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Unread post by HungFist » 24 Aug 2008, 12:45

Delinquent Girl Boss: Worthless to Confess (Zubeko bancho: zange no neuchi mo nai) (1971)

The final and best film in the series. Just like the previous three, it opens with a reform school intro. Rika and the girls are watching Abashiri Prison and cheering for Ken Takakura (this was a cleaver reference as most of the Delinquent Girl Boss films featured a heroic male character heavily influenced by Takakura). One year later they are all out but of course soon run into each other by chance. Rika finds work from a car repair shop run by Murakami (Junzaburo Ban). His daughter (Yumiko Katayama making her debut in the series) is in trouble with a yakuza gang lead by Nobuo Kaneko.

Mari, played by Yukie Kagawa, is back after one film break. Kagawa appears in all four films, but she played a different character in Ballad of Yokohama Hoods. Here her character is a poor wife, forced to work as a cheap nude model to make a living. She later finds better work from a hostess club thanks to her friends. The club scenes introduce us to even more familiar actors; Masumi Tachibana as a hostess and Tonpei Hidari, once again in comedy mode, as her boyfriend. The gang is finally completed when the Yôko Ichiji makes a rather random appearance and hooks up with rest of the girls.

Worthless to Confess doesn’t differ greatly from the other films in the series, but here the elements works to the fullest. The music is great, often tightly attached to club scenes presenting some charming 70’s fashion, and the storyline is probably the best in the series. Characters are good and especially the scenes between Oshida and Tsunehiko Watase (this time playing a slightly more rough edged character) have spark. Yumiko Katayama is a nice addition to the team, even if one of the motives behind her casting may have been that she was willing to provide the series with some extra nudity.

The film ends with a grande finale that should please any genre fan. The action, although not gory, is nicely choreographed and well captured on film. Some of the fighting is shot through a glass floor, a trick made famous by Seijun Suzuki in the late 60’s. But even better than the big sword fight is the preceding scene that builds up the tension. There is one weakness though, and admittedly a notable one. Another film in the series already featured a very similar ending before. Here, however, Yamaguchi hadles it so well that he’s actually capable of getting away with it.

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Unread post by HungFist » 25 Aug 2008, 17:21

Those who liked the soundtracks in Delinquent Girl Boss films might be interested in Hotwax’s Zubeko bancho cd. Unfortunately I don’t have it myself and can’t provide much info on it.

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http://www.ultra-vybe.co.jp/hotwax/zubekoubanchou/

Then there’s this, crazy looking 7 disc release that seem to feature music from The Delinquent Gir Boss films, Furyo Bancho films, Sukeban films, Akira Kobayashi films and others. I don’t have this either. You can find track list at amazon.

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http://www.ultra-vybe.co.jp/hotwax/specialbox/

Something I do have is the Essential Best Reiko Oshida cd by Sony Music. Since I’m not much of a music critic I’ll put it simple: this cd is great. 15 tracks (from 1971-1973), none bad, more than half very good. Song no. 6 was also sung by Reiko Ike on her Koukotsu no sekai album, but Oshida does it better. However, I have heard some people saying that this cd is missing some important songs but not being familiar with Oshida's discography I can't comment on this myself. Also note that this affordable cd (approx 1500 yen) was a limited time release, officially available 12/2007 – 3/2008. But you should still be able to track it down from some retailers.

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Track list
01 同棲時代-その1- (3'08 )
02 朝顔日記-同棲時代 その2- (4'28 )
03 愛のくらし-同棲時代- (4'23)
04 今日子と次郎 (2'30)
05 あなたが欲しい (2'40)
06 女はそれをがまんできない (2'57)
07 ノックは無用 (3'04)
08 女の学校 (2'27)
09 何がどうしてこうなった (3'27)
10 嵐を呼ぶ女 (3'24)
11 あの愛をもう一度 (2'46)
12 潮騒 (3'05)
13 愛にそむいて (2'26)
14 この街をはなれて (3'01)
15 お別れしましょう (2'40)

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