“Lady Snowblood” Is Here!
Fans of 70’s japanese exploitation are rejoicing today, thanks to Criterion’s new blu-ray release of the two “Lady Snowblood” films!
These are classic samurai revenge thrillers, beautifully made and now out on Criterion! You can read about them here:
These movies are part of an amazing cinema genre from Japan – here’s a look at some of the best!
“Sex & Fury!”
If you haven’t heard of this film, you are missing a classic! Welcome to Japan, for some of the craziest action you’ve ever seen!
These are, simply put, Japan’s version of Sexploitation, and they are even more over-the-top than ours!
There are a score of websites devoted to this sub-culture of film, but I wanted to point a few classics out to whet your appetite…
The Pinky Violence Collection –
Congratulations to Synapse Films for this package of classic 70’s sexploitation, released under the title of “The Pinky Violence Collection!”
HERE ARE THE TITLES:
Criminal Woman: Killing Melody / Terrifying Girls’ High School: Lynch Law Classroom / Girl Boss Guerilla / Delinquent Girl Boss: Worthless To Confess
How can you go wrong with names that these? You can’t!
Hanzo The Razor!
OK, well this is all kinds of wrong, all kinds.
READ IT AGAIN: ALL KINDS OF WRONG.
He’s Hanzo “The Razor” Itami; the incorruptible and uncompromising samurai cop, and he packs a weapon more devastating than any sword (just ask any of the female suspects he “interrogates”).
Let me say that, as wrong as the very idea of the movie is, they aren’t in fact that rough…it’s just the idea of a Detective who uses his “weapon” to get to the truth is pretty amazing.
This 70’s trilogy is from the creator of the “Lone Wolf and Cub” series – and is based on Kazuo Koike’s classic mangas, and stars Shintaro Katsu as Hanzo, the screen’s most outrageous samurai anti-hero. In the name of justice, there’s no torture he won’t endure, no pain he won’t inflict, and no superior he’ll bow to. Amazon has a great box set of the film – each film is presented complete and uncut.
Now, thanks to Criterion’s great new blu-ray please, you can experience the majesty of “Lady Snowblood!”
Female empowerment gets a good workout in this beautiful Japanese swordplay drama featuring a female fighter, Shurayuki Hime (Lady Snowblood), or Yuki for short, whose mission in life is to track down and slay three of the four villains who brutalized her mother and killed the mother’s husband and son.
The action takes place in the 1890s, in Meiji-era Japan, and includes several helpful flashbacks to provide the context for Yuki’s mission. Born in prison–her mother was there for killing the first of the villains and died after childbirth–Yuki is raised by a Buddhist reverend who calls her a “child of the netherworld” and trains her in the fighting arts. Tall and regal, beautiful and ghostly white, Lady S (played by Meiko Kaji) looks too pure to sully herself with bloodletting, a tack which gives her the element of surprise in her many sword fights.
The yellow poster is a clear inspiration for Quentin Tarantino and “Kill Bill”, whose poster had many similarities.
There are a number of websites that list Tarantino’s influences, including these 70’s Japanese Sexploitation classics. His love of cinema, and bringing obscure classics back to light for new film lovers to enjoy, is exciting to see.
Lone Wolf and Cub – Sword of Vengeance.
A disgraced Samurai wanders the bleak countryside of Japan, alone except for his young son. They encounter thieves of all kinds, and “Lone Wolf” dispenses his own justice – often with “Cub’s” help.
The films comes from a series of graphic novels from Japan – all have been reissued to read as well. They are Japanese manga – managa is the japanese word for “comics/cartoon”.
Amazon has a terrific box set of all films – I am lucky enough to own them on – yes, LASERDISC!
The Lone Wolf is an assassin by trade – he describes himself as evil, a demon, “one who walks along the crossroads of Hell”. The stories are violent, wildly entertaining, and yes “Cub” gets some action as well!
Read about the entire series here:
Sex & Fury
This is perhaps the “Godfather Of J-Sploitaiton!”
Reiko Ike stars as Ocho, a gambler and pickpocket in Meiji Era Tokyo. After sheltering a fleeing anarchist, Ocho runs into the three gangsters responsible for her father’s murder, and runs afoul of various yakuza who want her dead. A European spy, played by legendary Artsploitation queen Christina Lindberg, arrives on the scene and complicates matters.
There are three scenes that will cement this as a classic of japanese sexploitation cinema:
1-In the first ten minutes, Star Reiko Ike is bathing quietly – when she is suddenly attacked by a group of Ninjas. What does she do? She grabs her samurai sword, of course, and fight them off – naked!
2-She battles the Ninjas in a snowy courtyard – the inspiration for Quentin Tarantino’s snowy courtyard battle in “Kill Bill Vol. 1” – except Uma thurman is wearing her yellow jumpsuit – and Reiko is completely naked!
3- Reiko has a love scene with Christina Lindberg – that’s right, Swedish sex kitten and exploitation icon Lindberg is in this film!
Amazon says: Widely considered to be the Absolute Best Japanese Exploitation film!
Sex & Fury, one of the wildest, most violent, just-plain-entertaining Japanese sexploitation pictures from the 1970s stars smoldering young ‘pinky violence’ actress Reiko Ike (veteran of the Girl Boss aka Sukeban film series) as Ocho, a gambler and pickpocket in Meiji Era Tokyo. After sheltering a fleeing anarchist, Ocho encounters the three villains responsible for her father’s murder, and runs afoul of various yakuza who want her dead.
A European spy (Christina Lindberg), whose sadistic diplomat boss has his own nefarious plans, complicates matters. A riproaring action saga filled with beautiful bodies, bloody swordplay, and psychedelic imagery — all beautifully photographed in a number of astonishing set pieces.
Directed by Norifumi Suzuki (who fathered the Sukeban genre), Sex & Fury transcends the pop culture realm to achieve genuine art. Followed by the outrageous sequel, Female Yakuza Tale – Inquisition & Torture (also available from Panik House), it’s the best film you’ve never seen!
How can I argue with that?
Let me know what you think!
Categories: 70's Cinema, Action Films, Art, Awards, Books / Media, Christina Lindberg, Cult Movies, Exploitation films, Extreme Asian Cinema, Film Fight Club, Film Noir, Foreign Films, Great Films, Grindhouse, Horror films, Independent Cinema, Japan, Japanese Sexploitation Movies, Movies, Obscure Movies, Revenge Movies, Sexploitation Movies, Talent/Celebrities, Tokyo!