Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter (1970)

I’ve seen quite a few of the Japanese pinky violence films made by Toho studios in the 70s, but Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter is the first example I’ve seen from rival studio Nikkatsu. It lacks the nudity and much of the sex that characterises later pinky violence movies, but it doesn’t stint on the violence.

Meiko Kaji is boss of a girl gang, and is the girlfriend of Baron, the leader of a male gang known as The Eagles. Baron hates “half-breeds” the offspring of American servicemen in the occupying forces in Japan after the war. His sister was raped by one, although his anger and resentment is also fueled by his impotence. When two of the girls in Mako’s gang start dating half-breeds he isn’t at all pleased, and he’s even less pleased when it turns out that one of the girls is Mako. His dislike of those of mixed race, coupled with the thought that Mako might now be getting the sexual satisfaction he couldn’t provide, is the trigger for a campaign of violence by The Eagles.

At one point one of the characters refers to himself as a character in western, and in fact the movie was clearly heavily influenced by westerns, and especially by the bleakness and apocalyptic tone of Sergio Leone’s westerns. A wonderful example of cross-cultural pollination - a Japanese movie inspired by a Italian western!

Like so much of the Japanese exploitation cinema of this era the film displays a strongly ambivalent attitude towards the all-pervasive influence of American pop culture on Japan. And it makes some very clever use of American cultural icons, especially the Coke bottles used by Mako as Molotov cocktails!

And, like all 1970s Japanese exploitation movies, Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter is very very stylish. It’s all exceptionally pessimistic. They really aren’t any winners in this movie.

Meiko Kaji is of course awesome, with her big black hat making her look like a cooler version of Clint Eastwood from A Fistful of Dollars. The Stray Cat Rock series as one of no less than three ongoing series in the 70s that showcased her talents , the others being the Lady Snowblood and Female Prisoner #701 series.

This is not my favourite pinky violence film (my favourite being the amazing Terrifying Girls’ High School: Lynch Law Classroom), but it does have some intriguing features, it has style, and it has Meiko Kaji, so it’s well worth a look if you’re a fan of this genre.

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