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DVD Review: Female Yakuza Tale

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The lovely Reiko Ike reprises her role as the gambling, pick-pocketing, limb-lopping Ocho in this outlandish sequel to the aptly titled exploitation gem, Sex and Fury. Female Yakuza Tale quickly reintroduces Ocho and reestablishes the tone of the previous film with a slow motion, rain-soaked title sequence wherein our heroine takes on a dozen male assailants armed with only sex appeal and a deadly, bright red umbrella. One by one the men lose their lives, while their executioner loses only her clothing.

Following this, Ocho arrives in Kobe via steamship and is greeted by a quiet young woman who leads her to an awaiting rickshaw. The rickshaw drops her off at a dimly-lit building, but before Ocho can even say howdy-do, she is chloroformed by a group of men who then string up her limp body before relieving Ocho of her troublesome kimono. After she is revived with a series of slaps across the face, a chubby, effeminate man – who constantly licks his lips in a lasciviously, grotesque manner – violates Ocho with his fingers. It turns out that in addition to being a creep, the man is actually searching for something, and is surprised when he finds nothing hidden inside Ocho. Realizing they have the wrong woman, the men (who also understand that oft-times apologies are more difficult to make than escapes), knock the still kimono-less Ocho unconscious…again.

A blurry-eyed, groggy-headed Ocho wakes up, but of course, the nightmare continues — Ocho finds a bloody knife clutched in her hand, a dead woman laying next to her, and herself framed as a suspect in a recent string of gruesome deaths dubbed “The Crotch-Gouge Murders.” Ocho vows to exact revenge on the men who have defiled her and set her up as a murderess — by murdering them. While in pursuit of the men however, Ocho uncovers a drug smuggling operation, stumbles into the middle of a Yakuza power struggle, and forms an alliance with an ass-kicking nun and her posse of enslaved prostitutes, all of which dovetails into an out-of-this-world finale full of blood, bullets, boobs, and gelled lighting.

Female Yakuza Tale is a really entertaining, action-packed, violent piece of sexploitation cinema. Director Teruo Ishii (Blind Beast vs. Killer Dwarf) created a film bursting with energy, humor, originality, and visual flair. For example, where else are you going to see a mustache get shot off one man’s face only to land on some other guy’s upper lip? Or for that matter, thirty nude women eviscerating a roomful of mobsters – in heels? In addition, the overall production values are really good, featuring some extremely fantastic cinematography, great locations and costumes, and a large talented cast. Female Yakuza Tale’s funky ’70s score is also a lot of fun and overall really complements the film, while at times elevating the weirdness.

The script juggles a handful of storylines and characters, but is really quite cohesive and balanced throughout. My only complaint in this area is that the Sister Yashima character is given a great introduction, but is then absent for long stretches and is ultimately never as promising an addition as she initially seemed. However, the focus is on Ocho (the lack of which was one of the problems I had with Sex and Fury) and Reiko Ike is a charismatic screen presence who gives a great, and probably physically taxing, performance.

Panik House presents the film “uncut, uncensored and totally restored from the vault elements ” and it looks absolutely flawless. Special features include audio commentary by Chris D. (author of Outlaw Masters of Japanese Cinema), director and star bios, the original theatrical trailer, a poster and stills gallery, production notes, a special insert sticker, and optional English subtitles. This is a really great DVD release of an equally excellent and exceptional film that you would be wise to check out.

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