Delinquent Girl Boss: Blossoming Night Dreams (AKA Tokyo Bad Girls) in 1970 was the first of Toei Studios’ Delinquent Girl Boss series and if you’ve always been cautious about diving into the pinky violence pond than this is a relatively benign introduction to this fascinating genre of Japanese exploitation movies.
When I say it’s relatively benign that’s not to say that Blossoming Night Dreams doesn’t have a great deal of violence. It does. But it lacks the edge of sadism that puts some people off movies such as the Female Prisoner #701 series or Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs.
This was Kazuhiko Yamaguchi’s first feature film and it’s a rather assured effort.
It also launched Reiko Oshida as a pinky violence star although she never achieved quite the success of Reiko Ike or Miki Sugimoto.
Rika (Reiko Oshida) is an inmate in the Akagi School for female juvenile delinquents. When she is released she gets a job in a laundry but when her sleazy boss tries to crawl into bed with her she decides to look for alternative employment. Rika is wild and hot-tempered but she’s also loyal and basically good-natured, and she sincerely wants to go straight. When she does find another job as a bar girl in Shinjuku it’s perhaps not entirely respectable but the good news is that all the girls there are former Akagi inmates. Even the mama-san Umeko is an ex-juvenile delinquent.
Umeko has some big problems at the moment. The local Yakuza boss Ohshida wants her bar and he’s not inclined to take no for an answer. One of the other girls, Mari, has her troubles too - her sister Bunny became a junkie after being raped by Ohshida’s thugs and she is constantly getting into trouble. When she steals drugs from Boss Ohshida’s men both Umeko and Rika will find themselves drawn into a nightmare world of confrontation with the yakuza.
It might be a nightmare world but these are not exactly poor defenceless women. They’re tough, brave and resourceful and the yakuza will find they’ve taken on rather more than they can handle. Even more importantly Umeko and her girls have a bond of unbreakable loyalty which we will discover counts for more than mere thuggery. As pinky violence films go this one can almost be said to be inspiring and optimistic in its own blood-drenched and twisted way.
There’s also a sub-plot, which will later become important, involving Umeko’s ex-boyfriend Shinjuro, a yakuza henchman who was responsible for her father’s death. As you might expect she has conflicted feelings towards him. As much as she hates him for killing her father she has to admit she still loves him, and after all her father was a yakuza too and killing is just business for such people.
Cinematographer Hanjirô Nakazawa’s work is a highlight, bringing to life an exciting portrait of 1970 Tokyo nightlife that may or may not have borne any resemblance to reality, but it certainly looks great. There’s a sprinkling of great Japanese 1970 pop music (including a number by popular girl group Golden Half. And some fabulous early 70s fashions. These bar girls know how to dress! The dazzling colour photography combined with the music and the truly gorgeous dresses creates a kaleidoscopic extravaganza.
There’s always at least some comic relief in Japanese exploitation movies and the Japanese sense of humour can be disconcertingly vulgar, even compared to modern American teen movies. But the comedy elements in Blossoming Night Dreams (which are considerable) are much less crude than usual. At times it’s almost in danger of becoming quite good-natured. At least until the violence starts to escalate.
The movie is available on DVD individually or in a Tokyo Shock two-movie set (which is the one I bought) called the Delinquent Girl Boss Collection with another unrelated pinky violence film, Girl Boss Revenge (which I’m looking forward to since it stars the great, the fabulous, the one and only Miki Sugimoto). Blossoming Night Dreams is presented in an anamorphic transfer which is truly stunning.
There are better pinky violence films than Blossoming Night Dreams but it’s still a real treat and is highly recommended. Now I have to track down Delinquent Girl Boss: Worthless To Confess which is unfortunately the only other movie in the Delinquent Girl Boss series available on DVD.