• Legends Of The Poisonous Seductress: Quick-Draw Okatsu (Synapse Films) DVD Review

    Released by: Synapse Films
    Released on: November 13th, 2007.
    Director: Nobuo Nakagawa
    Cast: Junko Miyazono, Ko Nishimura, Kenji Imai, Harumi Sone, Yukie Kagawa, Reiko Oshida, Tomisaburo Wakayama
    Year: 1969
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    Legends Of The Poisonous Seductress: Quick-Draw Okatsu – Movie Review:

    Never before released on home video in North America (or on DVD in Japan), the second film in the Legends Of The Poisonous Seductress trilogy once again stars Junko Miyazono, this time as Okatsu, the daughter of a swordsman. Her life is calm and tranquil until her father gets into a spat with the local magistrate, Shiozaki, who just so happens to be a bit of a bastard. One thing leads to another and before you know it, Okatsu and her old man are bound up and tortured in Shiozaki's dungeon.

    Before you know it, Okatsu's family is gone, she's been raped, and she's decided to take it upon herself to get revenge. She's not alone, however, as an energetic young swordswoman named Rui (Reiko Oshida) and a burly ronin (Tomisaburo Wakayam) are along for the ride. Okatsu will have to use everything her father taught her to make it to Shiozaki alive and cut him down.

    Considerably more action packed than the first film in the series, this one isn't quite as moody or atmospheric as Female Demon Ohyaku. That said, the picture moves at a noticeably faster pace and is highlighted by more than a few fantastic scenes of intense swordplay. Junko Miyazono is given plenty of opportunity to show off her skills and to look good doing it and she makes the most of it. The camera loves her and she's always shot quite delicately despite the violent subject matter of the film.

    Directed by Nobuo Nakagawa (the same man who directed Snake Woman's Curse and Jigoku), this film lacks the eerie atmosphere of his better known horror films but it does show that the man had a knack for swordplay and action. The direction is very solid, the mood more than just a little frantic and the film builds nicely once Okatsu's motives for revenge have been firmly established. The cinematography from Masahiko Imura is quite impressive with bold use of color throughout. Some of the compositions are also quite impressive with the panels and beams used to hold up the buildings in the films used to divide the frame in interesting ways. There are a few genuinely striking long distance shots used in the film, most notably towards the end of the picture, where the camera will zoom out more than you might expect giving us a broader and more epic look at the action as it transpires.

    A lot of the film has obviously been shot on a studio lot and on constructed sets but watch for a very poignant and dramatic location shoot out in the mountains to close out the film.

    With all that said, despite the artistic merit of the film, the real reason most of us will want to watch the picture is to watch a hot chick go nuts with a samurai sword. On that level too the film is pretty strong as we get plenty of footage of Okatsu using the skills she learned from her father and putting them into action. She slices and dices her way through her opponents and does so with a surprising amount of grace and style. Junko Miyazono just has the right look for the part, you can believe her as a natural with a sword and her soft features contrast in interesting ways with the bloody vengeance she doles out. Pairing her with Tomisaburo Wakayama (from the Lone Wolf And Cub films) and Reiko Oshida (of Delinquent Girl Boss: Worthless To Confess) makes for great casting and the three do quite well with the material.

    Legends Of The Poisonous Seductress: Quick-Draw Okatsu – DVD Review:

    Legends Of The Poisonous Seductress: Quick-Draw Okatsu is presented in a clean and colorful 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. There's a little bit of fine grain present in a few spots but aside from that the image is very strong and almost perfect. Flesh tones look great and color reproduction is very strong.

    The film is presented in its original Japanese language in Dolby Digital Mono with optional English subtitles. Audio quality is fine, there are no problems with hiss or distortion and dialogue is clear. Range is obviously limited by the fact that it’s an older track but there are no problems here, the movie sounds fine.

    The main extra feature on this release is, once again, an audio commentary track with Japanese film expert and author Chris D. As with the track that Chris D. provided for Female Demon Ohyaku, this is more of an observational commentary than anything else but he does do a good job of providing a basic overview of the film's history. He provides some interesting details on the cast and crew and comments on how this film relates to others in the genre as well as other films in Nobuo Nakagawa's filmography.

    Aside from that we get widescreen trailers for all three films in the Legends Of The Poisonous Seductress series, some stylish animated menus, and chapter selection. There's also a Nobuo Nakagawa poster gallery and a text biography.

    Inside the keepcase is an insert booklet containing a three page essay from Chris D. which, aside from recycling portions of his essay appearing in the Female Demon Ohyaku release, gives a brief rundown of the Japanese female swordplay, explaining its appeal and noting some of the more important and influential films and actresses before getting into specifics regarding this particular film. A chapter listing is also included on the final page of the insert. As they did with their previous Panik House releases (Snake Woman’s Curse and Horrors Of The Malformed Men), Synapse has provided some reversible cover art. On one side is the newly created DVD cover art (done in the style of the Panik House Pinky Violence Collection releases) and on the opposite side is the original Japanese poster art.

    Legends Of The Poisonous Seductress: Quick-Draw Okatsu - The Final Word:

    If you dug the first film in the series, this second one works on a similar level. Another intense performance from Junko Miyazono highlights the picture. Plenty of violent swordplay and stylish cinematography and camerawork ensure that it looks great. The DVD from Synapse looks great and the movie is a blast.