UK Release Date:
Norifumi Suzuki / Teruo IshiiCountry:
Fabulous Films / Fremantle
Whatever your opinion of Tarantino’s recycling of old exploitation movies, it has provided DVD distributors with a means to promote re-releases of some classics of the genre (though if you’re among critics of recent so-called ‘torture porn’ you might not consider this a good thing). Sex and Fury and Female Yakuza Tale belong to Toei studio’s Pinky Violence series – a subgenre of pink film whose focus on strong women bent on terrible vengeance is clearly echoed in Kill Bill – and together form a veritable bloodbath of sex, violence and naked chicks with swords.
Sex and Fury, directed by Norifumi Suzuki, stars cult Seventies icon Reiko Ike as Ocho Inoshika, a gambling, thieving bad girl out to avenge the murder of her father via such stunts as leaping out of a hot tub and carving would-be assassins up in the snow, having a man lick poisoned perfume from her body, and getting strung-up and whipped by doll-faced Swede (and Thriller star) Christina Lindberg.
Tough, poised Ike reprises her role as Ocho in Teruo Ishii’s delirious Female Yakuza Tale, in which the main thrust of the non-sequiturial excuse for a plot is a gang of killer hookers smuggling drugs in their vaginas. With more of everything than Sex and Fury – more inexplicably naked female fighters, more rape and sexual humiliation, more crudeness (the ‘crotch-gauge’ gang, bets on vagina size), more comedy villains – this is a sillier and trashier, though still beautifully composed, piece of high ridiculousness.
Both films share the fantastic incongruity of using a 1920s setting in what are very much Seventies period pieces not just because of the time-specific genre conventions, but also the films’ music and psychedelia-influenced scenes, and bizarre idiosyncracies like having Lindberg do her whipping while dressed in a buckskin-fringe top and miniskirt. It’s a shame, then, that the DVDs come with such a perfunctory collection of extras: some background on the development of pink films, perhaps, or Pinky Violence’s relation to sexploitation elsewhere, or even an overview of the turbulent career of Ike, would have provided some useful context. Still, whether viewed as a curious slice of pop culture history or for a more visceral softcore and swordplay fix, these are very much worth revisiting, independent of any Tarantino-inspired wave of enthusiasm for their genre.