Coffret Femmes Criminelles Vol. 1 (HK Video)

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Coffret Femmes Criminelles Vol. 1 (HK Video)

Unread postby HungFist » 04 Jan 2009, 19:32

HK Video’s Coffret Femmes Criminelles Vol. 1, or Coffret Teruo Ishii Vol. 1, comes with three films:

- Tokugawa onna keizu (History of the Shogun's Harem) (Vierges pour le shogun) (1968)
- Tokugawa irezumi-shi: Seme jigoku (Inferno of Torture) (L’enfer des tortures) (1969)
- Zankoku ijô gyakutai monogatari: Genroku onna keizu (Orgies of Edo) (Orgies sadiques l’ere Edo) (1969)

The set is mostly remarkable for marking the first time Orgies of Edo has been made available on dvd anywhere. The other two films were released on dvd by Toei in 2005. Inferno of Torture is also available from Japan Shock (remastered and anamorphic, possibly a standards conversion).

So, how does the HK Video compare? Tokugawa onna keizu and Inferno of Torture are surprising HK Video transfers in two ways. First of all, they don’t feature HK Video’s usual color manipulation. This is because HK Video have obviously used Toei’s remasters (the prints even have all the same scratches).HK Video has however performed some cheap remastering of their own by removing some damaged frames from the films. Secondly, these are not native PAL transfer but a conversions. HK Video have, however improved the sharpness over Toei.

Orgies of Edo, on the other hand, is HK Video’s own work, and the exact opposite from the two other films. The transfer is Native PAL, but does feature the blue tint that HK Video insist on adding to almost every film. It’s not a bad looking transfer and considering no other company has released the film on dvd we can only be grateful to HK Video. But then again, if some other large company such as Toei ever get round to releasing it on dvd, HK Video probably won’t compare favourably. But that may never happen.

Subtitles are in french and they are forced but not burnt in. Each film features a Japanese DD 2.0 audio (192 kbps). These tracks don’t sound quite as clean as the Toei dvds. Inferno of Torture also comes with a french dub. Extras are the same on all dvds. Original trailer and bonus trailers for other HK Video releases. Trailers for Love and Crime and Yakuza’s Law are included, suggesting that these titles will be included in HK Video’s next Teruo Ishii box set. There’s no booklet coming with the box set, however, each film comes with a folded poster (approx 35 x 50 cm).

Below are pictures of the set.

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Tokugawa onna keizu
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Inferno of Torture
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Orgies of Edo
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Interesting ”disc holder” system
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Poster (Inferno of Torture)
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Unread postby HungFist » 04 Jan 2009, 19:34

Tokugawa onna keizu (1968)

Despite being the opening part in Teruo Ishii’s notorious Tokugawa series*, Tokugawa onna keizu is mainly a drama/comedy with only a tiny bit of violence thrown in. However, it started something that would soon take a more violent turn and develop into Toei’s major early pinky violence franchise. Director Ishii, who had been directing movies for more than a decade already, had just recently finished the 10 part Abashiri Prison yakuza film series. With the Tokugawa films he wasn’t looking for the critics approval, but attempting to deliver honest exploitation entertainment... and test the limits of acceptance in the process.

Tokugawa onna keizu follows the harem life – one man, and an endless amount of young beautiful women whose only function is to please their lord. It results into 90 minutes of slightly naughty, often silly entertainment. The amount of nudity is generally high – especially in the massive contest scenes such as topples sumo wrestling – but some of the main actresses still remain clothed throughout. Many genre requlars can be spotted in the film – Yukie Kagawa, Yoko Mihara, Naomi Tani (before becoming a Nikkatsu sm queen) and Ishii’s trusted male leads Teruo Yoshida and Asao Koike.

* ”Tokugawa series” appears to be an unofficial grouping of Teruo Ishii’s Tokugawa era set exploitation films. It’s hard to say exactly which movies should be included as many of Ishii’s exploitation movies are episode films, sometimes consisting of stories set in different eras. Making matters more confusing, Ishii’s second Tokugawa film – The Joy of Torture – starts the unofficial ”Torture” series. One of the films in the series is Yakuza’s Law, which however differs from the others in the sense that it concentrates on violence between male parties. Therefore, unlike the ”Torture” and ”Tokugawa” films, it cannot be considered a pinky violence movie.

DVD comparison

Top: Toei (progressive)
Bottom: HK Video (NTSC to PAL)

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Unread postby HungFist » 04 Jan 2009, 19:37

Orgies of Edo (1969)

Misleadingly titled Orgies of Edo is Teruo Ishii’s thematical follow up to Tokugawa onna keizu and The Joy of Torture. Split in three episodes, the first story is quite a bit more restrained than the Tatsumi Hijikata lead freak show opening credits sequence would let you expect. However, Ishii does decent job with melodrama, and of course doesn’t forget to bring it into a sadistic conclusion. The second episode follows a woman with taste for pain... and most weird looking men. The scene where two midgets attempt to rape the main characters is not even most politically incorrect part of the story.

The final episode is about a lord (Asao Koike) who takes pleasure in killing his servants (as well as poor bystanders). His servant (Yukie Kagawa) has gotten herself into a tight spot by insulting the lord, but she knows about a ruthless game that could save her life... Orgies of Edo is a solid Teruo Ishii / pinky violence film. Each story raises the bar a little and manage to keep the viewer’s interest up. However, many of the elements have been used more succesfully in other Ishii films made before and after Orgies of Edo. Also note that unlike the title would suggest, there are no orgies in the film. The actual sex scenes are brief, although there’s no lack of bare skin.

Screencaptures from the HK Video dvd (Native PAL / progressive)

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Unread postby HungFist » 04 Jan 2009, 19:40

Inferno of Torture (1969)

Stylish, beautiful, exploitative and even poetic. Inferno of Torture is no doubt one of Teruo Ishii’s finest pinky violence movies. Opening with a disturbingly brutal but stylized execution footage, the core story is about two tattoo artists (Teruo Yoshida and Asao Koike) who must compete each other in creating a masterpiece on human skin. However, rather than just following these two men Ishii’s camera spends more time with the women who affect on this competition.

The structure is more ambitious than usually seen in exploitation genre. It takes time before the actual storyline becomes clear, and Ishii’s changes main characters many times during the film’s process, without giving it a strictly episodic structure. The visual output and use of colours are top grade, easily putting most mainsteam productions to shame. Despite the gory opening scene, the film is not excessively violent. The english title – Inferno of Torture - is a name of a tattoo appearing in the film, not a description of the film’s content.

DVD comparison

Top: Toei (progressive)
Bottom: HK Video (NTSC to PAL)

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