Released by: Impulse Pictures
Released on: March 12, 2013.
Director: Koyu Ohara
Cast: Naomi Tani, Hirokazu Inoue
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One of the more infamous of Nikkatu’s Roman Porno films, Fairy In A Cage has never been given an official DVD release anywhere in the world until now, and that includes its native Japan where it was put out on VHS once and only once back in 1997. Sure, plenty of grey market bootlegs showed up in both physical and digital form but those would seem to stem back to that same tape release, fast approaching its twentieth birthday. Impulse Pictures, however, have stepped up to the plate and now this controversial classic of kink and bondage can be enjoyed uncut and in excellent quality by discerning viewers aged eighteen and up!
The movie is set during the Second World War in Japan where a man named Judge Murayama (Minoru Okochi) seems to get his kicks by exploiting the situations of those who come before him and sending people, guilty or not, off to horrible prisons. Enter Namiji Kikushima (Naomi Tani), a stunningly beautiful woman accused of encouraging dissent amongst the populace. She and her accomplice (Hirokazu Inoue), a kabuki actor, are brought before Murayama and locked up under his control. It’s then that he and his assistant Kayo begin their grueling series of sexual assaults against the woman, most of which involved extreme rope bondage.
When Murayama and Kayo bring on a new hire named Taoka (Kazuo Satake), things look to be going from bad to worse until Namiji catches his eye, and then his heart. As he quickly falls head over heels in love with her, it starts to look like they might just have a chance at escaping Murayama’s evil clutches after all…
Neither Koyu Ohara nor Naomi Tani were strangers to Roman Porno movies at this point in their respective careers with both participants having more than a few credits under their respective belts. This one was a pretty controversial affair, however, as unlike most of Nikkatsu’s other rough and tumble sex films Fairy In A Cage had a political slant to it. A film that is as much about the abuse of power as it is about tying up hot, naked ladies it doesn’t quite have as much depth or character development to its narrative credit as it could have. At the same time, it takes on the corrupt judicial system head on, painting those in power as perverts and sex fiends only too happy to pray on those wrongly convicted.
As far as the direction and the performances go, both score high points. Naomi Tani has that uncanny ability to say more with a knowing glance or a certain look than with any line of dialogue, and she takes everything that’s thrown at her like a pro, somehow managing to be bound and submissive and simultaneously defiant of her captors at the same time. The fact that she’s gorgeous doesn’t hurt things either. The rest of the cast do well, Kazuo Satake’s character showing some decent inner conflict about his situation and Minoru Okochi playing the sleazeball rather well. The movie is also very nicely shot with some great compositions and very strong production values. This gives it a fair bit of appreciable gloss and ensures that regardless of what’s going on up there on the screen, it always looks good.
Fairy In A Cage looks great in this 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer taken from the original 35mm negative. Colors are handled well and look quite natural as do skin tones, of which there are loads on display. Black levels aren’t quite inky deep but they’re strong and detail is pretty good across the board. There are no issues with print damage to complain about and overall this is a clean, sharp, good looking picture though it should be noted that a few scenes were shot with some softness in mind and that comes through in the transfer (as it should).
The Japanese language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track is crisp and clean though occasionally just a tiny bit shrill. The levels are well balanced and there are no issues with hiss or distortion. The optional English subtitles that are provided are free of any typos and easy to read. This won’t floor you but it sounds fine, there are no problems.
Extras on the disc are limited to a menu, chapter selection and… that’s it. Not even a trailer. Inside the case, however, is an insert containing original poster art for the feature and liner notes from film scholar/author Jasper Sharp that provide some details on the film and on the cast and crew involved in the production as well as some notations on what sets this movie apart from other films in director Koyu Ohara’s filmography. They also provide some welcome background information on leading lady Naomi Tani and reveal the facts behind the origin of her name.
The Final Word:
A notorious Nikkatsu classic, Fairy In A Cage gets its long awaited DVD debut from Impulse. The disc is barebones, sadly, but the transfer is great and the movie itself is one that, if you’ve been enjoying the ‘Nikkatsu Erotic Films Collection’ releases so far, you should consider a mandatory purchase.