• Female Yakuza Tale (Panik House) DVD Review

    Released by: Panik House
    Released on: September 26th, 2005.
    Director: Teruo Ishii
    Cast: Reiko Ike, Makato Aikawa, Jun Midorikawa
    Year: 1973
    Purchase From Amazon

    Female Yakuza Tale – Movie Review:

    Female Yakuza Tale (also known under the considerably more glamorous alternate title of Female Yakuza – Inquisition And Torture) is a follow up to the fantastic Sex & Fury, and although this time out it’s helmed by director Teruo Ishii, thankfully Reiko Ike does return to play the lead as Ocho.

    A gambler and underworld mover and shaker by trade, Ocho moves to Kobe when the film begins. She gets off the boat and hopes to start a new life in the city but before you can say ‘gotcha’ she’s been kidnapped by a gang of punks who tie her up, rip off her Kimono, and ‘investigate’ her in the most personal of ways. She’s knocked out and when she wakes up, she finds herself lying next to a dead woman and holding a bloody knife in her hand. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that she’s been set up, but you’d have to be an idiot to mess with a girl like Ocho and it’s a given that she’s going to be dolling out some payback…

    Bound and determined to find the men who did this to her, Ocho sets out into the streets of Kobe to do some investigations of her own in hopes of finding the no good thugs who defiled her and set her up for a fall. The more she looks around, the deeper she gets pulled into a Yakuza plot that involves smuggling drugs in and out of the area via insertions into the very area of the female body that Ocho had been investigated in herself!

    Meanwhile, there’s a power struggle going on for control of the Ogi clan since their old boss went the way of the dinosaur. With his daughter missing in action, there’s no heir to the criminal throne and some members suspect foul play might have been involved. Before the movie is out, this is all tied into Ocho’s story and an army of killer hookers will unite against a common foe in that wonderful way that can only happen in Japanese exploitation movies.

    Fast paced and packed full of trashy action set pieces, Female Yakuza Tale is a delirious blend of sex, violence, and pop cinema. While it never quite reaches the levels of carnage that Sex & Fury does, Ishii has no problem heaping on some healthy helpings of the carnal kind ensuring that the movie will have no small amount of appeal to those who prefer their films to be of the exploitative type.

    Underneath all of the skin, however, is a pretty decent plot that does do a good job of keeping you guessing until the end. Speaking of the end, what a finale. Without wanting to spoil the movie, let it suffice to say that those who enjoy a good naked sword fight should find themselves in trash movie heaven during the last ten minutes of this opus.

    While Reiko Ike doesn’t have Christina Lindberg to play off of (or with) this time out, she still manages to carry the movie and make it look easy. Those stern facial expressions and imposing physical prowess with a sword are once again given plenty of screen time and she makes for a very likeable anti-heroine. Ishii’s camera swirls around and captures all of the psychedelic pop color schemes in great detail, while the soundtrack wails away in the background creating a truly delirious film that goes over very well indeed.

    Female Yakuza Tale – DVD Review:

    Panik House gives Female Yakuza Tale a fantastic 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that pretty much gets everything right. It’s flagged for progressive scan playback, it’s in its original aspect ratio, and it has been given a very nice clean up job that really breathes new life into this older film. The colors pop off the screen but the reds never bleed into the other hues. The black levels stay strong and don’t break up or pixelate at all. Flesh tones look fantastic, and there’s an exceptionally high level of detail in both the foreground and the background of the image – on a larger set you can even see, in a few scenes, where Ike’s make up is on a little too thick. There are only one or two scenes where any film grain or print damage is visible and even when you can see it, you really have to be consciously looking for it.

    The film comes to DVD in its original Japanese language with optional English subtitles in a pretty solid Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sound mix. Dialogue is clean, clear, and easy to follow and the soundtrack comes through with a little more punch than you’ll probably expect it to.

    The main supplement comes in the form of an audio commentary from Chris D. While some of the information that he uses here is carried over from his commentary on the Sex & Fury DVD, it’s still a decent primer course in what these films are all about and he does a solid job of supplying some basic background information on the key players that made it happen both in front of and behind the camera.

    Rounding out the extra features are Teruo Ishii & Reiko Ike biographies by Chris D., the original theatrical trailer, a poster and still galleries, an essay on Toho’s Bad Girl Cinema again by Chris D., and a special Insert Sticker replicating the image of Reiko Ike used on the cover art.

    Female Yakuza Tale – The Final Word:

    Panik House delivers another winner and fans of Japanese exploitation and Yakuza films would be out of their minds not to add this one to their collection. The film isn’t quite as over the top as the earlier Sex & Fury but it’s close and Female Yakuza Tale is a stylish and darkly comic crime/revenge story that is completely worth checking out for fans of the genre.