Sunday, 16 March 2008

Girl Boss Guerilla (1972)

As the opening credits of Girl Boss Guerilla (Sukeban gerira) roll the members of the Shinjuku Red Helmets, a girl biker gang from Tokyo, ride into Kyoto. Their leader, Sachiko (Miki Sugimoto) intends to establish herself as the new girl boss of Kyoto. She achieves this by challenging her rival to single combat, and defeating her in a remarkably brutal fight sequence. She also encounters Nami (Reiko Ike), who had been girl boss of Kyoto until she retired to become a sort of freelance juvenile delinquent. They also fight, and after beating each other to a pulp become firm friends. These girls have a fairly rugged concept of female bonding. Nami’s brother is a mid-ranking goon with the local yakuza, and he and Nami don’t get on, to say the least. As the Red Helmets start to dabble in more ambitious Criminal activities they find themselves increasingly in conflict with the local yakuza boss, especially after Sachiko’s boxer boyfriend beats up several of the yakuza gang members. The stage is set for a vicious showdown between the yakuza and the biker girls.

The first half of Girl Boss Guerilla, one of the more celebrated of the Japanese “pinky violence” movies of the 70s, is a mix of action, violence, sex and extraordinarily crude humour. It also has a truly bizarre quality to it. To give a sense of the flavour of this movie, at one point one of the Red Helmets has her motorcycle stolen by a bald Buddhist nun. When the nun falls off the stolen bike and injures her leg, the girls take her to a local gynaecologist. He turns out not to be a real gynaecologist, so the girls take the opportunity to indulge in a spot of blackmail, at which point the nun decides that she what she really wants is to become a girl biker. Director Norifumi Suzuki’s hostility to organised religion is awe-inspiring, and both Catholics and Buddhists find themselves in the firing line. The feel of the movie is a little like a Russ Meyer movie, with a dash of John Waters. The second half of the movie is much darker and more violent, in fact outrageously violent. This was my first exposure to the “pinky violence” genre, although I have a couple of other titles I haven’t watched yet. An odd little movie, but entertaining.

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