Last week, I brought you an intro to Pinky Violence genre with the easy-to-swallow DELINQUENT GIRL BOSS: WORTHLESS TO CONFESS. Now it is time for the real deal with...
SEX AND FURY (1973)
It is the turn of the twentieth century. Legendary gambler and master thief Ocho (Reiko Ike) has been wandering and hunting for the unknown killers of her detective father for twenty years now. When a request by a dying card dealer brings her back to Tokyo, she finds herself partnering with Shinosuke, a leftist anarchist who has been fighting against a powerful right wing group with yakuza origins. As Ocho watched her father die as a child, he gave her a clue to the identities of the killer - a deer, a boar, and a butterfly. When Shinosuke reveals that one of the political leaders, a lecherous man with a fetish for virgins, has a deer tattooed on his back, Ocho is certain that this is one of the men she is searching for. But these yakuza politicians have several cards up their sleeve. One of which are several British agents, including the beautiful Christina (Christina Lindberg of THRILLER: A CRUEL PICTURE) who secretly has ties to Shinosuke, and a much more personal connection to Ocho than she could realize!
By 1973, many of Japan's major studios were desperately trying to fight against the rising popularity of television by featuring that which could not be found on the small screen. SEX AND FURY (the English title essentially tells you exactly what you are getting) is filled to the brim with arterial-gushing bloodshed that matches and possibly exceeds the then current LONE WOLF AND CUB series and boundary breaking softcore sex scenes of both the consensual and non-consensual variety. Coupled together with a splash of lowbrow humor to easy some of the more tense scenes, and this becomes a prime example and highly enjoyable entry into Japanese exploitation outings.
Director Norifumi Suzuki, who was an old hat in this exploitation genre-bender that had been dubbed Pinky Violence and was the force behind several of the better entries, brings an artistic and experimental eye to a picture that was meant to do nothing more than shock and titillate. Under Suzuki's trained eye, the opening action sequence is a brilliant primer of things to come, and one of the more inspired sequences in early 70's Japanese cinema. In it, Ocho is caught unawares while bathing by almost a dozen yakuza gamblers set on killing her. Instead, she jumps out of the tub, grabs her sword, and completely nude dispatches the entire group. The fight sequence, shown mostly in slow motion and edited just enough to prove that Reiko Ike really is nude and really is doing the fighting, eventually stumbles out into a snowy evening. By the end of the fight, Ocho is covered in blood, the snow is stained red, and several severed limbs litter the ground.
Suzuki would continue with these highly stylized fight sequences and set ups throughout the picture, bringing inventive camera work, brightly colored set pieces and costumes, and some odd musical choices to several of the movie's more lurid and shocking sequences, giving them a quality that is just outside reality. Suzuki saves the best for the final sequence of the film, as Ocho fights against the remaining yakuza henchmen, aided by a very out of leftfield rock-jazz fusion guitar solo. Here, Ocho is hoisted up to the same pedestal of invulnerability as Lady Snowblood and the Lone Wolf, as she suffers multiple wounds without slowing down. One of the final shots, and certainly the most beautiful, has Ocho hallucinating that the falling snowflakes are playing cards. It is an artistic high to a rollercoaster of a ride.
In the front car of that ride is Rieko Ike, who made her fame for Toei in many of their girl gang pictures, and Christina Lindberg, seen here pre-THRILLER and brought in for her name recognition as a Swedish sexploitation star. Ike gives her role the icy strength the character needs, and relishes in the performance. Her ability to be both beautiful and deadly, and carry both the sex and violence scenes successfully, made her a perfect choice for Ocho. For fans of exploitation though, Lindberg needs no introduction and her "performance" here will make this movie a necessity. Lindberg is on hand here to give the sex scenes the prowess they need, and is the featured performer in most of them. For the bondage inclined, Lindberg dresses in buckskin and whips a chained and bruised Ike in the later part of the film. When she is not in bed, Lindberg's stilted English dialogue and costumes straight out of romance manga offer up yet another delirious step outside of reality.
As with many of the pinky violence films, this one offers just about everything a film can give, and while some of the more harsh scenes will turn away the timid, experienced patrons will eat up the wild array on display. This is one of those highly visual pictures that description just does not do justice, and must be seen to truly appreciate. Ocho is a fantastic character, given a depth that is not handed out often, and a performer that is a joy to watch in every sense of the word. She would return later that year in the sequel FEMALE YAKUZA TALE.
Pick up SEX AND FURY on Amazon today. You won't regret it!