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    Takuma
    Senior Member

  • Takuma
    replied
    Shogoro Nishimura x 3

    Fearless Comrades (不敵なあいつ) (Japan, 1966) [VoD] – 3/5
    The man with the guitar is back. This plays out much like a follow-up to Akira Kobayashi's earlier Wandering Guitarist and its sequels. Kobayashi is a musical yakuza who breaks up with his gang after growing sick with their inhuman practices. He arrives in a new town and finds work in a hotel / bar, but of course they are also harrassed by the local yakuza. The owner's daughter takes a liking in Kobayashi, as you'd expect. Kobayashi is also accompanied by a side-kick guitarist, who is a complete idiot! This is another good Shogoro Nishimura film, but also a reminder why he never gained much critical acclaim. He was a skilled technician capable of bringing tremendous entertainment to the screen, as well as just serviceable films. But he rarely made a number of himself behind the camera. He didn’t have many trademarks, concurring themes or messages. This film is a Kobayashi show inside out, with little indicating Nishimura of all people stood behind the camera. It suffers from lack of originality & stand-out scenes, but still works just fine as a slick, harmless time waster. Three sequels followed.

    Hawk of the Harbour (波止場の鷹) (Japan, 1967) [VoD] – 3/5
    Hardly innovative but otherwise decent Nikkatsu Mood Action with Yujiro Ishihara as the head of a small shipping company who gets harassed by the yakuza. When he refuses to take part in their smuggling business, they try to force him and even get Ishihara’s sister killed. Stoic Ishihara resists resorting to violence to the point of the audience’s frustration. This is another pretty solid effort by invisible director Shogoro Nishimura. My review of the previous year's Nishimura film Fearless Comrades could be reused here with minor edits: this one could do with stronger finale, but the welcome lack of comedy evens things out. What this film really has going for it, besides the rock solid art direction expected from Nikkatsu films of this era, is heavyweight villain actor Toru Abe as Ishihara's loyal, short tempered employee. Though he wasn't always cast as bad guy, rotten yakuza bosses had become his bread and butter by the mid 60s to the extent that most genre film fans probably have never seen him play anything else. Here, in a rare good guy role, he gets to stretch his acting muscles a bit more than usual, which makes for delightful viewing for yakuza film fans.



    Wandering Seagull: Night In Kushiro (さすらいかもめ 釧路の女) (1973) [VoD] - 2.5/5
    Truck driver Kiyoshi Yoshida gives a ride to Junko Miyashita who is returning to her home town in Hokkaido. She's got a past, he's got a young hostess girlfriend Yuko Katagiri, and everyone is connected. Love, sex and drama in the Kushiro port town follows. This is one of Shogoro Nishimura's better Roman Porno films (almost none of which are as good as his earlier youth and gangster films from the 60s), a throwback to Nikkatsu's 60s youth cinema and perhaps even more to Toei's Song of the Night type of films depicting the young men and women of the night. It retains the thematics and fabulous art direction of those films, though with added boring sex and more hollow characters. Ultimately, however, the visuals, the setting and the solid ending are enough to make it worth a view.

    Toei ninkyo x 3

    Kanto Fight Challenge (関東果たし状) (Japan, 1965) [TV] – 2/5
    Talkative, rather uneventful fourth entry in the Kanto series. The first 4 of the 5 films came out in 1965, making it one of the notable early works in the ninkyo genre. But you might argue the films were quite simplistic compared to some of the later, better pictures that had a more interesting obligation vs. humanity conflict in their core. This film goes some way in the right direction, with honourable clansman Tsuruta's closest friend Hiroyuki Nagato working for another gang under an evil oyabun. But not much comes out of it. Other highlights include blinded-by-dynamite Junko Fuji spending half of her scenes in black sunglasses and looking cool and ridiculous at the same time, and a dynamite packed clan-war action finale.

    Chivalrous Man (渡世人) (Japan, 1967) [TV] - 3/5
    One of the few ninkyo films starring Toei's playboy hustler Tatsuo Umemiya. He was usually found in less chivalrous pictures, though, oddly enough he also starred in Toei's most poetic ninkyo picture, Flower Cards Chivalry (1967) just 4 months prior to this. Chivalrous Man is a much more standard affair, made by different people, but is not without merits. More interesting than the chivalrous Umemiya are the unchivalrous Wakamayama and Tsuruta as a villain duo, the latter in particular playing a more compromised character than usual. The two are responsible for assassinating Umemiya's decent boss, though gunslinger Tsuruta later comes to regret what he's done. The unusual villain pairing alone carries the film once we get over the sluggish first third. One sequel followed later the same year.



    Expelled by a Man’s Rivals (男涙の波門状) (Japan, 1967) [TV] – 3.5/5
    Here is a solid ninkyo film with an unusual opening and a superb ending. Clansman Kyosuke Machida loses the gang’s money to a thieving friend, and is expelled by boss Kanjuro Arashi (usually playing more forgiving characters). It’s quite touching really and establishes an important supporting character. Star Koji Tsuruta doesn’t appear until 13 minutes into the film when he’s released from prison. He’s dismayed about his brother’s fate. Soon comes in the news that Arashi’s daughter (Teruo Ishii muse Masumi Tachibana) has run away to reunite with sweetheart Machida. Tsuruta immediately volunteers to go after them, eventually finding Machida in a coal mine working for benevolent boss Kenjiro Ishiyama, both of them harassed by rotten boss Bin Amatsu. Then we have the thief’s sister Hiroko Sakuramachi who falls in love with Tsuruta, and honourable nemesis Minoru Oki who saves Tsuruta so that he could kill him himself. There’s nice web of relationships and duty/honour conflicts, even if they are not as developed as in director Yamashita’s best films, and the drama runs somewhat out of steam after the first half. The musical score by Takeo Watanabe (Flower Cards Chivalry) is awesome in places and good in others. But the film really comes alive in the spectacular ending where Tsuruta kills more than two dozen men in pure rage. I’ve never seen him as deadly and furious in any other film. It’s one of the best choreographed, most exciting action climaxes in any ninkyo film.

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  • cryptkicker_5
    Junior Member

  • cryptkicker_5
    replied
    I've been trying to watch all of Hisayasu Satô's films, starting with Lolita Vibrator Torture (1987). He has a lot though; doubt I'll view them all.

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  • Takuma
    Senior Member

  • Takuma
    replied
    The Drifting Avenger (荒野の渡世人) (Japan, 1968) [TV] – 3/5
    A Japanese western shot in Australia with a local supporting cast. Takakura is an immigrant gone lone avenger seeking justice for his dead parents. Not a highly rated movie, but it really isn't as bad as sometimes suggested. It's fun to see Takakura as a gunslinger alongside a cast made of Australians (plus one Turk), even if everyone is dubbed in Japanese, and at the very least the film should strike as quite exotic to casual viewers. It was not the only one of its kind, however, with the genre's output ranging from Fukasaku's localized Drifting Detective: Tragedy in Red Valley (1961) to Okamoto's shot-in-abroad East Meets West (1995), with many cowboy episodes in Key Hunter (1968-1973) in between. These were mostly drawing from old American westerns rather than the spaghetti westerns that influenced late 60s new wave directors like Hideo Gosha and Kazuo Ikehiro, and can appear quite rather dated nowadays. That is the case here too, but much of the silliness of the cowboy shenanigans is offset by the dead-serious revenge tale where every kill, even the justified ones committed by the hero, leave a mourning wife or an orphaned kid behind.



    Rogue (ごろつき) (Japan, 1968) [TV] – 3.5/5
    This is a surprisingly breezy and enjoyable ninkyo film. Country bumpkins Takakura and Sugawara head to Tokyo to become kickboxers. Neither have experience, and both are fish out of water in the big city, not having even washed their faces after leaving coal mines. But they’re in luck when they befriend benevolent ex-boss Kenjiro Ishiyama and gym owner Minoru Oki (whose ring is populated by real kickboxers in minor roles, such as Tadashi Sawamura and Isao Fujimoto). Takakura eventually becomes a kickboxer (who is barely seen doing any kickboxing). The film doesn’t really become a yakuza movie until 50 min into the tale when gangster Fumio Watanabe pulls the boys down the usual ninkyo trail, leading to a satisfying katana massacre at the end. What’s best about the film, however, is its sense of laidback fun that many ninkyo films lack. My favourite part comes when Ken and Bunta earn pocket money by performing songs in bars. Ken does the vocals, Bunta plays the guitar. They perform both the Abashiri Prison and the Brutal Tales of Chivalry themes. There’s also a part where Bunta loses his part time job as caretaker after mistreating a dog’s balls (yes, you read that correct)! Thankfully none of that plays out as mere throwaway gags, but rather as humoristic bits of characterization that contributes to a larger dramatic but breezy narrative. This is all the more surprising coming from director Masahiro “ten litres of tears” Makino, whose yakuza films tend to be full of sobbing and heavy handed melodrama.



    Rogue Wanderer (ごろつき無宿) (Japan, 1971) [TV] - 2.5/5
    Country bumping coal miner Takakura makes his way to Tokyo, joins rotten Watanabe's construction company. He later switches team to benevolent Shimura's tekiya family upon realizing how Watanabe's gang is exploiting the locals and even cause the death of a little boy's father, something Takakura indirectly contributed to. Long, but not bad modern day ninkyo film by Yasuo Furuhata (though the era seems almost irrelevant). Takakura is in his element as kind, honourable common man burdened by guilt. His interactions with the locals and the little boy are quite good, and the musical score by Toei / Daiei composer Takeo Watanabe is solid (and slightly resembles his incredible work in Flower Cards Chivalry). But in the end, the film is just ok. There's nothing particularly memorable about it that hasn't been done better in many other ninkyo films. It should also be mentioned that despite sharing the title and again featuring Takakura as coal miner heading to Tokyo, this is not really related to the earlier film Rogue (1968).

    Nostalgic Lullaby (望郷子守唄) (Japan, 1972) [TV] – 1.5/5
    There are few badly made films in Toei's ninkyo line-up. They were all studio productions helmed by seasoned professionals. But this one is exceptionally weak and far-fetched, borderline laughable. Takakura is a tattooed yakuza and a mama's boy sent to military service, where he spends the film's first 30 min getting beaten by Rinichi Yamamoto. Then he's back on the streets, and to his old habits, much the dismay of his frequently, hysterically crying mother. Of course he later runs into Yamamoto again, now employed by evil yakuza, in a half-arsed attempt to justify the film's first 30 minutes and pretend it wasn't just a desperate attempt to bring something, anything, remotely fresh to a genre that had ran its course. Of course, even the yakuza + military hybrids had been done before and more devotedly by Daiei's Katsu (Hoodlum Soldier), Toei's Wakayama (Outlaw Corps) and even Takakura himself (Tattooed Ambush), though not quite as a pure ninkyo film like this.

    Neo Chinpira : Zoom Goes the Bullet (ネオ チンピラ 鉄砲玉ぴゅ) (Japan, 1990) [TV] – 4/5
    Breezy Toei V-Cinema gem with Sho Aikawa in his first starring role. Aikawa is an youngster in a gang whose senior members specialize in "zooming", or escaping their duties. Two of his bosses are assigned on a hit, but one "accidentally" puts a bullet in his stomach while riding roller coaster, and the other OD’s himself mad, leaving only Aikawa to carry out the job. He doesn't want to do it either, and ends up wasting copious amounts of time slacking with and banging his narcoleptic girlfriend (Robotrix's Chikako Aoyama). This is a much breezier film that one might expect, a deadpan yakuza satire with a genuinely cute romance in its core. It's also constantly clever, visually creative, very funny, and packs a hell of a cool rock soundtrack. Director Banmei Takahashi is a former pink film powerhouse who made a mainstream transition with Tattoo (1982), an awarded but depressing celebration of gray everyday misery. This film is much different. It somewhat resembles Nikkatsu's terrific late Roman Porno / Okinawa yakuza gem Burai no onna (1988), which has a similar storyline and oddly enough starred Hitoshi Ozawa, another to-be video star, in his first lead role.

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  • Takuma
    Senior Member

  • Takuma
    replied
    Denko karate uchi (電光空手打ち) (Japan, 1956) [VoD] – 2/5
    Denko ryusei karate uchi (電光流星空手打ち) (Japan, 1956) [VoD] – 2/5
    Ken Takakura's screen debut, following his admission into Toei ranks via the studio's annual New Faces program, came surprisingly enough in this pair of Okinawa karate films. The two-parter was released on Jan. 29, 1956 as two thirds of a triple feature also containing Kiyoshi Saeki's Samurai of the Great Earth. Both halves run just under one hour. The fighting is actually pretty good for the time, and it's fun to see Takakura as an impatient, bearded karate rascal. But there's not much vitality to the plot or storytelling. It comes out as rather bland as a whole.

    Detective (刑事) (Japan, 1964) [TV] - 3/5
    Though enjoying a more versatile image abroad, Tetsuro Tamba's name is almost synonymous with detective roles in his native country. This film was his first leading role as a detective. Tamba is here chasing a sex maniac who has kidnapped a woman who by coincidence turns out to be Tamba's little sister. That far-fetched twist aside this is a surprisingly low-key docudrama with plenty of time spent at the police station in frustration when there are simply no firm clues to follow: the kidnapper could be hiding anywhere, and trying to find his car is like looking for a needle in haystack. That doesn’t always make spectacular cinema, but the film is nevertheless solid and greatly increases intensity towards the end. Tamba is good, but it is Shinjiro Ehara as the nervous, socially inept and woman-hating kidnapper who stands out most in the cast. His character is featured extensively on screen as the film documents his evil doings, firmly placing the film in the grittier new wave of cinema that was emerging in Japan in the early/mid 60s (interestingly, that happened simultaneously with the rise of the fairytale-like ninkyo films).



    Mud Dog (どろ犬) (Japan, 1964) [TV] - 4/5
    Compromised cop Minoru Oki is feeding intelligence to reckless gangster acquaintance Ko Nishimura, who’s had him on a leash ever since learning about Oki bed-friending an arrested gangster's woman. But Oki's colleagues are starting to suspect something, and he needs to take increasingly drastic actions to cover his own ass. This is real a discovery in Toei's crime film catalogue. Adapted from a novel by Shoji Yuki (Fukasaku's Under the Flag of the Rising Sun) but reportedly even more nihilist than the source material, this is a gripping tale of a desperate cop turning into a beast, the kind of film that would more often be made in the 70s and after, with Oki in one of the best roles of his career. Nishimura is also excellent as blackmailing scum (the type of role he played better than anyone else), and Kunie Tanaka appears as his mentally challenged yakuza brother. The film starts out leisurely, but gets progressively more intense as Oki finds himself without a way out of the situation. Debut director Takaharu Saeki sadly never made another movie for Toei. He got caught up in a labour dispute and was unable to land directing jobs after angering the studio execs. He’d work for TV (including Toei) after the dust settled for two decades before making his second and last theatrical movie in 1984.



    Exodus from Japan (Young Oh! Oh!) (ヤングおー!おー! 日本のジョウシキでーす) (Japan, 1973) [VoD] - 1.5/5
    "There is porno, there is gambling, there is action!" Toei sure knew how to advertise family entertainment to movie goers. This is essentially a 79 minute sketch marathon, a theatrical side-product of the popular TV variety show “Young Oh! Oh!” that ran from 1969 to 1982. Toei brought it to the big screen with comedians from the show's early years. There’s almost no plot beyond a bunch of comical twats wanting to escape Japan in search of a better life. Lots of stupid sketches follow. Some of the silliness might be considered action. And what about the porno? That would be Harumi Tajima and her frontal assets doing a couple of comedy nude scenes at the end. Needless to say the word "porno" was and still is used a lot more loosely in Japan than elsewhere. It was a trendy loan word that took Japan by storm in the early 70s, and was used to refer to almost any kind of erotic content… even in G-rated family entertainments like this.

    The Dump Truck Rascal (ダンプ渡り鳥) (Japan, 1981) [VoD] – 2.5/5
    Toei producer Shigeru Okada and Kanji Amao's failed attempt at creating a follow-up series to the hugely successful Truck Yaro (1975-1979). The focus is now on dump truck drivers instead of those flashy 70s dekotora vehicles and their drivers. And here lies the main difference between the two. We're now well into a new era, the decade of human drama and grey everyday reality, aimed men and housewives alike, and long past the outrageous action/comedy/melodrama roots of the Suzuki/Sugawara series. Also, director Ikuo Sekimoto does not have Suzuki’s skill at mixing fast action with genuinely touching drama, hence we end up with a long funeral / sobbing scene for someone we never cared much for. Toshio Kurosawa is the titular dump truck wanderer (of the film’s Japanese title) who takes dead pal's ashes back to wife Junko Miyashita in the snowy Hokkaido, then feels some inner need to abandon his truck and temporarily settle down in Hokkaido. Along came mentally unstable half-girlfriend Mieko Harada. Not bad, but regrettably 80s in the usual lacklustre ways. The best thing about the film is the extensive Hokkaido scenery (with constant snow storms) and 70s relic Tatsuo Umemiya as gun toting rival who goes hunting for bears alone! Also features a silly (Truck Yaro esque) Takeshi Kitano comedy bit in the beginning before the heavy drama takes over.


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  • ropo1
    Senior Member

  • ropo1
    replied
    That it's a 2 parter indeed seems like wrong information, i've got entire jmdb and more in my database and can quickly rule out that theres only a few pink films produced and or distributed by nikkatsu pre 1971.
    Crossreferencing the cast and staff there isn't really anything matching other then the director did some lurid titles after this one such as "いちどは行きたい女風呂" 1970, which don't even have an imdb.

    However there is a link between this "ある色魔の告白 色欲の果て", "女浮世風呂", "秘帳 女浮世草紙" that all 3 are pink films distributed by nikkatsu and produced by (青山プロ) Aoyama Pro.

    And then there's the three "Frontline of the Night" 夜の最前線 serie all directed by Motomu Ida which pretty much covers nikkatsus pre roman porno pink films, fill me in if i missed anything but i don't think so.

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  • AngelGuts
    Senior Member

  • AngelGuts
    replied
    Thanks for the poster art and screen captures, Takuma.

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  • Takuma
    Senior Member

  • Takuma
    replied
    Originally posted by AngelGuts View Post
    I did mis-read it. :-( Thanks for clarifying. Can't find art/poster for the film you saw. Very obscure. But if it's on Neco, there's now something close to a ProRes HD file of it.

    On a Facebook post linked to Neco, this appears:

    実Director Nishu 江崎Confession of a Demon: The End of Sexual Lust 池Cineroman Ikebukuro

    Pink movie made by Nikkatsu before Roman Porno.
    Just like the "Sakyo" photo taken before the main work, many pink film actresses appeared.
    The previous work only produced tears, but the current work also provided a hiding place and the pink film quality has increased.

    It's a pink movie with a lot of hiding places, but the content mainly depicts the frustration of a black half young man who has been discriminated against from a Japanese young man who has lived in unfortunate circumstances. One of the flaws in the repertoire of daily life movies, and therefore, raping a woman is the cause of frustration from sexual desire.


    Is this an alternate title? Looks to be the same film based on Japanese characters.



    A very kind Japanese film scholar (紅藤 マイトZ) wrote me this re: the film:

    "As you asked, the director of this movie is Minoo Ezaki. However, this movie "Confession of a Sex Devil: The End of Lust" is not a series, but only this work."
    I can't really tell from the machine translated title. I'd need to see the original post.

    Nikkatsu disagrees about this being a stand alone film. They consider it part 2 of a series. Could be mistake, though.
    https://www.nikkatsu.com/movie/21081.html

    Mio Ezaki is the correct spelling of the director's name.

    Here's the theatrical poster.


    And a few HD screencaps







    Leave a comment:

  • AngelGuts
    Senior Member

  • AngelGuts
    replied
    I did mis-read it. :-( Thanks for clarifying. Can't find art/poster for the film you saw. Very obscure. But if it's on Neco, there's now something close to a ProRes HD file of it.

    On a Facebook post linked to Neco, this appears:

    実Director Nishu 江崎Confession of a Demon: The End of Sexual Lust 池Cineroman Ikebukuro

    Pink movie made by Nikkatsu before Roman Porno.
    Just like the "Sakyo" photo taken before the main work, many pink film actresses appeared.
    The previous work only produced tears, but the current work also provided a hiding place and the pink film quality has increased.

    It's a pink movie with a lot of hiding places, but the content mainly depicts the frustration of a black half young man who has been discriminated against from a Japanese young man who has lived in unfortunate circumstances. One of the flaws in the repertoire of daily life movies, and therefore, raping a woman is the cause of frustration from sexual desire.


    Is this an alternate title? Looks to be the same film based on Japanese characters.



    A very kind Japanese film scholar (紅藤 マイトZ) wrote me this re: the film:

    "As you asked, the director of this movie is Minoo Ezaki. However, this movie "Confession of a Sex Devil: The End of Lust" is not a series, but only this work."
    AngelGuts
    Senior Member
    Last edited by AngelGuts; 09-05-2022, 12:25 PM.

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  • Takuma
    Senior Member

  • Takuma
    replied
    Originally posted by AngelGuts View Post
    Thanks for the Neco correction.

    Seems CONFESSION OF A LOVELACE is a different film to TOKYO BATH HAREM... from your stills, it's not even a period film, but TOKYO BATH HAREM is.

    So not sure there is a poster out there of it.
    Yeah, I think you misread my original post. CONFESSION OF A LOVELACE is part 2 in a series, and I was just trying to figure out what is part 1. I think TOKYO BATH HAREM is part 1 (same producer, made a bit earlier).

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  • AngelGuts
    Senior Member

  • AngelGuts
    replied
    Thanks for the Neco correction.

    Seems CONFESSION OF A LOVELACE is a different film to TOKYO BATH HAREM... from your stills, it's not even a period film, but TOKYO BATH HAREM is.

    So not sure there is a poster out there of it.

    Leave a comment:

  • Takuma
    Senior Member

  • Takuma
    replied
    Originally posted by Takuma View Post

    Caught it on Nihon eiga senmon channel. No stream or physical release as far as I know.
    This may be irrelevant, but it was Neco, not Nihon eiga senmon channel. I don't know why I was thinking of the latter.

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  • Takuma
    Senior Member

  • Takuma
    replied
    Originally posted by AngelGuts View Post
    CONFESSION OF A LOVELACE... aka TOKYO BATH is definitely SADISTIC VIOLENCE TO 10 VIRGINS as that poster is out there.

    Now determined to see this after your 4/5 review. You caught it on Nikkatsu Channel? Any physical copy out there? Not finding on amazon.co.jp.
    Caught it on Nihon eiga senmon channel. No stream or physical release as far as I know.

    Leave a comment:

  • AngelGuts
    Senior Member

  • AngelGuts
    replied
    CONFESSION OF A LOVELACE... aka TOKYO BATH is definitely SADISTIC VIOLENCE TO 10 VIRGINS as that poster is out there.

    Now determined to see this after your 4/5 review. You caught it on Nikkatsu Channel? Any physical copy out there? Not finding on amazon.co.jp.

    AKA's...
    • Das Badehaus zu den 7 Glückseligkeiten
    • Seitsemän onnen kylpylä
    • The House of Strange Loves
    • Tokyo Bath Harem
    • Violenza sadica per 10 vergini
    • おんなうきよぶろ
    AngelGuts
    Senior Member
    Last edited by AngelGuts; 08-25-2022, 08:06 PM.

    Leave a comment:

  • Takuma
    Senior Member

  • Takuma
    replied
    Young Wolf (aka Hidden Fangs) (若い狼) (Japan, 1961) [35mm] - 3/5
    Hideo Onchi’s stylish directorial debut, a semi-documentary style drama about young man Yosuke Natsuki trying to go straight after being released from youth prison. To his dismay, girlfriend Yuriko Hoshi waiting in Tokyo has followed in his footsteps, now complete with an attitude and a delinquent girl hairstyle. This is a solid film with beautifully captured and authentic looking black & white street cinematography. It is however only borderline delinquent youth film, following its protagonist's attempts to steer away from the yakuza world and resisting the temptation to let it all explode in violent mayhem. It hence gets more low key as it goes on. The recently deceased Kunie Tanaka appears in a supporting role as fellow inmate released at the same time as the protagonist.



    Prison Gambler (監獄博徒) (Japan, 1964) [TV] – 2/5
    Part 2 in the Gambler series, set almost entirely in Miike Prison (also the setting for director Ozawa and star Tsuruta's 1973 film Three Lakes Prison). The storyline is standard fluff, but the film's setting is quite unusual, especially for a film made in 1964. While many ninkyo films included prison segments, few made it their primary setting aside some films in the Abashiri Prison series that started in 1965. There are a few other points of interest, from prison brutality to tiny outdoor humiliation cages, the sun setting behind the prison walls and the prisoner forced to work at a coal mine, sweaty and half naked. It is curious how this film, alongside the opening segments in Teruo Ishii's The Shogun's Vault (1963), pre-dated the later women in prison films in terms of more than a few elements and visual details. It is not enough to save an otherwise uninspired ninkyo picture, however.

    Escape Man (脱獄者) (Japan, 1967) [35mm] - 3.5/5
    Kazuo Ikehiro tackles modern day crime thriller in an uneven, but highly rewarding Daiei noir. Tetsuro Tamba is a police detective with a little brother Jun Fujimaki in the yakuza. Tamba eventually gets framed and jailed for being too close to the gang - though despite the film's title this doesn't happen until the second half. And here lies the film's unevenness. The opening half is stylish, but not particularly convincing (two gangs gathering for a 5 vs. 5 quickdraw death duel being an example of both) or always engaging. However, once Tamba is behind bars, the film goes into highly suspenseful observative mode as he desperately tries to find a weak spot in the prison security while also keeping himself alive till the action packed climax. The entire second half is first rate filmmaking and Tamba is expectedly good. Sniper assassin Kyosuke Machida, gangster Nobuo Kaneko and former chief Yoshi Kato all excel in supporting roles. Fine score and stylish black & white cinematography complete the package.



    Confessions of a Lovelace: At Lust’s End (ある色魔の告白 色欲の果て) (Japan, 1968) [TV] - 4/5
    An astonishing exploitation extravaganza about a lusty hothead (Takashi Fujiki) who goes seducing and conning women until one is left dead. He then finds himself on the run from the law, handcuffed to a violent, discriminated and mentally unstable half-Japanese man (Shohei Yamamoto in blackface). The two go on an incredible escape / rape frenzy through the countryside, making brief destructive stops at a guesthouse, golf court populated by gaijin women, and church. And of course they take turns bonding and punching each other in the face. Wow! This is cinematic anarchy, immoral celluloid garbage and the kind of cinema you're not supposed to enjoy. Take the guesthouse scene as an example: the escapees peek in from a window, and there’s a lesbian couple making love; they move on to the next window and witness a rape in progress; then they decide to join the fun. All this depravity was expertly helmed by Mio Ezaki, one of Nikkatsu's in-house directors here working for independent production house Aoyama Production and making sure the film is technically on par with any mainstream Nikkatsu gangster film. There’s really no other film to compare this to (that I’ve seen) than Yasuharu Hasebe's depraved action thriller Rape! 13th Hour (1977) which, despite its far more graphic nature, can't quite match the frenetic nature and 60s swing of this film.

    Note that Nikkatsu’s website claims this is the 2nd film in the Nikkatsu honno series / route (日活本能路線), but there is no mention of what is part 1. It is not either one of the Confessions of a Girl films, which only premiered after this movie. My guess is it’s Tokyo Bath Harem aka Sadistic Violence to 10 Virgins aka Onna ukiyoburo (女浮世風呂) (1968), an earlier Aoyama Pro film made for Nikkatsu by the same producer.



    Confession of a Girl: The Forbidden Fruit (ある少女の告白 禁断の果実) (Japan, 1968) [TV] - 3/5
    A Nikkatsu youth film unrelated to Confessions of a Lovelace despite its similar title. This is a notably tamer in-house production, a youth film about the sexual awakening of teenage boys and girls. It's a solid drama spiced up with some exciting scenes, like the boys helping a prostitute escape from a yakuza run brothel, and slight sun tribe type elements although in a little different context. Meiko Kaji appears in a supporting role with a hairdo almost like an afro! Also notable for being Mitsuko Oka's screen debut, complete with a very brief topless scene at the end. Followed by one sequel.



    Bondage Tattoo on Wet Skin (濡れた肌刺青を縛る) (Japan, 1982) [35mm] - 1/5
    I felt obliged to watch this Mamoru Watanabe Shintoho film since it was screening in 35mm. I probably shouldn't have. A soldier (Shiro Shimomoto) comes home from war, only to find his sweetheart (Mai Hana) missing. She's actually in the attic, tied up on ropes and tattooed from ankles to neck, under intensive yakuza care. What's curious about this tale is that she's fully engaged in self-torture, tying herself up and even pulling herself up in the air on ropes by herself when there's no one to whip her. It's slightly spectacular to look at and supposedly adds a psychological layer to the sleaze. Meanwhile he proceeds to bang other women... a lot. Then there’s a bit of revenge at the end. I watched this back to back with Toei's Virgin Breaker Yuki and Nikkatsu's Red Vertigo, and it's painfully evident how much lower the production values and filmmaking quality are here. On a more subjective opinion, the same is true to the prettiness of the actresses. This may have been satisfactory to sleaze-hungry pink audiences, but the (very) occasional moments of cinematic interest and the entirely elementary yakuza aspect to the plot offer little comfort to others.

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  • Takuma
    Senior Member

  • Takuma
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    Shogoro Nishimura x 3

    Seishun no kaze (青春の風) (Japan, 1968) [VoD] – 3/5
    One man Roman Porno factory Shogoro Nishimura made many movies about girls, but here he made one for the girls. This is one of his roughly dozen pre-porno mainstream films from the 60s (nearly all of which are better than almost any of his roman features), this isn't quite among his best, but still has certain cheerfulness personified by lead Sayuri Yoshinaga that makes it fun to watch. Yoshinaga is young woman who becomes a maid for an American family (of three gaijin actors who all speak surprisingly decent Japanese) while also (sort of) chasing sweetheart Mitsuo Hamada who is getting little too intimate with friend Yoko Yamamoto. Yes, this at least partially a romantic comedy, but above all it’s a girl film. There’s very little in terms of men (besides Hamada) in the film. Some of Yoshinaga's interactions with the gaijin family (timid mother, silly womanizing husband and a lonely kid) are pretty funny and, Yoshinaga (with a very common look here, as opposed to the screen beauty appearance you’d expect) is highly likeable.



    The Blazing Continent (燃える大陸) (Japan, 1968) [VoD] – 3/5
    Another breezy Shogoro Nishimura film from the years before he went pervert. Tetsuya Watari plays a painter who is dispatched to Australia for a work gig, then fall in love with Chieko Matsubara. She is however (about to be) engaged to Aussie man Masumi Okada. At one point Watari becomes hostage / getaway driver to short fuse kid Ken Sanders who had used a little too much force in defending his sister's honour. There's plenty going on in this stylish and entertaining film, to the extent it can't quite decide what it wants to be. It can also get a bit too travelogue in places, but not as bad as many other Japanese films shot in foreign locations. The biggest stumbling block here is the English dialogue. Watari does ok with short lines only, and Sanders doesn't have any command of the language (despite his name, he is of course Japanese). Conversely, the French born, internationally educated Okada speaks English effortlessly. Meiko Kaji appears for a few seconds as well. She had much bigger roles in two other, superior Nishimura films: Goodbye Mr. Tears (1966) and Burning Nature (1967).



    Women's Cruel Double Suicide (残酷おんな情死) (Japan, 1970) [VoD] - 3/5
    Shogoro Nishimura’s grimy, docudrama esque film about lesbian lovers in yakuza infested Shinjuku. A suicidal call girl (Annu Mari) and a temperamental gold-digger (Sanae Ohori) meet by chance and eventually decide they are better off without men. But the former’s yakuza guardian / boyfriend (Jiro Okazaki) and his gang disagree. This was the last film Nishimura did before Nikkatsu’s Roman Porno switchover in the following year. It coincidentally became a bit of a transitional work, a much gloomier and fleshier picture void of the breeze and colourful art direction of his 60s pictures. It's also worse acted and edited with some jarring cuts, making it feel more like an independent picture than a Nikkatsu film. But it has its own charm, from authentic Tokyo locations to smutty atmosphere and even a brief cult lesbian orgy scene where Ohori is made love by white-hooded Ku Klux Clan types. It’s an interesting picture, though ultimately less bizarre and more low-key than some of the above-mentioned plot points might suggest. Also known as “Midnight Virgin”.



    Others x 4

    Manji (卍) (Japan, 1983) [TV] - 1/5
    Holy pretentiousness, Batman!

    Memories of You (ラブ・ストーリーを君に) (Japan, 1988) [TV] – 2/5
    A sappy idol film with a terminally ill 14 year old (cute Kumiko Goto) spending one last summer with her ex-tutor (heart-throb Toru Nakamura) she has a crush on. "A Love Story for You" reads the Japanese title, which pretty much summarizes it. Love, nostalgia and tears has been the formula for box office success in Japan for decades. But cinematically, one would expect more from director Shinichiro Sawai, whose earlier works include the excellent Tragedy of W with Hiroko Yakushimaru at Kadokawa. This film was made at Toei. But it's not just the studio that is different here: Tragedy of W was written by nihilist/misogynist/screenwriter extraordinaire Haruhiko Arai, while this obviously wasn't (Shoichi Maruyama is the guilty party). While it doesn’t quite descend to the deepest melodrama gutters, there really isn’t much going for it other than pretty landscapes and decent leading performances.

    Knife (KNIFE-ナイフ-) (Japan, 1996) [TV] – 2.5/5
    A female assassin loses her memory after a botched job in this rather passable DTV film. She escapes from captivity and is rescued by a dad & daughter combo who provide her a safe environment to ask "who am I?" (even from a ridiculously dated computer system where assassin profiles written in broken English are stored). This isn’t too bad a film. There's some action, some nudity, and a decent amount of 90s existentialism (think of poor man’s Mamoru Oshii) aided by an occasionally pretty musical score. The pacing is ok and the thematics just about keep you interested, even if nothing really stands out. Director Hidehiro Ito is probably best known for a handful of sleazy 80s Roman Porno films, such as Secretary Rope Discipline (1981) and Debauchery (1983).



    Ghost Master (ゴーストマスター) (Japan, 2019) [TV] - 1.5/5
    What is it with these modern kids who can't make a genre film without burying it under five layers of apologetic, self-ironic meta? Ghost Master is a potentially fun tale of a film crew in the middle of a shoot when the assistant director's horror script comes alive and starts slaughtering the crew. There are some great practical splatter effects. Less CGI than expected. Some fun jokes too (the Tarantino jab especially). Lots of references, particularly to Evil Dead and Tobe Hooper. And then we have characters commenting how dumb and unreal it all is, on behalf of viewers and filmmakers who sort of like it, but are embarrassed to admit it, hence trying to strike a balance between laughing at films and laughing with films. It gets progressively worse with more and more idiotic post-modern scenes to assure viewers it's really just a self-aware joke, and can be enjoyed without losing credibility in one’s social circles. And then there’s a typically (for modern Japanese cinema) drawn-out drama anti-climax. Unlike the similarly themed but sincere One Cut of the Dead, this is fundamentally spoiled goods by apologetic filmmakers too afraid to commit to their craft.

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