• Bohachi Bushido: Code Of The Forgotten Eight (Discotek Media) DVD Review

    Released by: Discotek Media
    Released on: May 20th, 2008.
    Director: Teruo Ishii
    Cast: Tetsuo Tanba, Yuirko Hishimi
    Year: 1973
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    Bohachi Bushido: Code Of The Forgotten Eight - Movie Review:

    Based on the manga by Kazuo Koike (who co-created Lone Wolf And Cub, Hanzo The Razor and Lady Snowblood) and directed by the late, great Teruo Ishii, Bohachi Bushido: Code Of The Forgotten Eight is an almost surreal blend of sex, violence, and anti-social behavior taken to a very literal extreme.

    Stone faced Tetsuro Tanba plays a Ronin named Shiro who feels that because his life is such a living Hell, he should not fear death as it really can't be any worse. His misanthropic world view causes him to attempt suicide but before he passes on a pair of foxy hooker nurse him back to life by rubbing their nubile naked bodies against his.

    It turns out that these girls are just two of the many prostitutes employed by the Bohachi gang, a group of equally sour faced samurai who live by their own code. In order to become a Bohachi, you have to eschew God, conscience, shame, loyalty, servitude, propriety, and justice - and given Shiro's past, he seems like a perfect fit.

    Though he fails his initial entry test by taking pity on a woman forced into prostitution, he proves himself by cutting off her ear and the leader of the clan decides that he wants him to serve as their new enforcer. It seems that a lot of local whorehouses have sprung up and cut into the earnings of the Bohachi's lucrative prostitution racket and that Shiro's new job is going to be to teach those who run these brothels not to tread on Bohachi territory. He busts up a few local joints and kills off a whole lot of people but his actions are not going unnoticed. The local authorities have got their eyes on Shiro and while his affiliation with the feared Bohachi affords him some diplomatic immunity, can he really trust these people?

    As colorful as a Mario Bava film and as sleazy as a Lee Frost picture, Bohachi Bushido is a uniquely Japanese roughie with plenty of twisted sex and bloody swordplay. The period setting gives the film an air of seriousness but the sex and violence is pretty over the top resulting in a classy looking that winds up housing a whole lot of nastiness. At the center of it all is Tanba, who truly embodies the 'mean sonuvabitch' persona that a character like Shiro requires to be even remotely believable. Tanba is tough as nail and cold as ice and his sour demeanor make him the perfect choice for the part.

    Ishii keeps things moving at a very quick pace and directs the film with plenty of style from the opening credits to the ultra-violent finale. At eighty-one minutes the film flies by and it proves to be as entertaining as you'd expect given the premise of the picture. With the cast appropriately painted in sickly hues of green and white throughout the film, it proves to be a very grim, dark and morose film that somehow manages to be, at the same time, completely enjoyable.

    Bohachi Bushido: Code Of The Forgotten Eight - DVD Review:

    Bohachi Bushido arrives on Region 1 DVD in a spiffy 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. There's a little bit of mild print damage and some moderate grain, but that's to be expected given the film's age. Color reproduction looks nice and accurate and compression artifacts are a none-issue. Skin tones look good, and detail levels in the foreground and background of the picture are pretty solid. That said, this would definitely benefit in a big way from a high definition upgrade.

    The Japanese language Dolby Digital Mono track is fine. There isn't a whole lot of range or depth but you won't have any problems with hiss or distortion and the levels are well balanced throughout. The score sounds quite nice and the optional English subtitles are easy to read and free of any typos.

    Discotek has gone all out and made this a true special edition DVD. The extras start off with a commentary track courtesy of author J-Taro Sugisaku and cult film director Takao Nakano, the mad genius behind Killer Pussy and the Exorsistor films. There's also an About The Commentators (0:42) video clip wherein the two participants and the moderator introduce themselves and explain why they're on the track in the first place. The point out the brutal way in which women are treated in this film and share some interesting stories about 'Ishii-san' and they do a good job of explaining the appeal of his films and why they stand out from other Japanese directors. They also explain the historical context of a few scenes and provide some welcome information about the cast. The commentary is in Japanese but English subtitles are provided.

    Up next is an interview with actress Yuriko Hishimi (21:03) who talks about how she got into acting after the Olympics of 1964. From there she talks about some of the projects she's appeared in over the years (look for a neat clip from Ultra 7) and what it was like working for Toho and appearing in films like Godzilla Vs. Gigan. From there she talks about how she came onboard Bohachi Bushido and what it was like working on that film with Teruo Ishii after initially declining based on the film's explicit subject matter.

    J-Taro Sugisaku is also the subject of an interview (15:31). He sits on his couch surrounded by books and movie memorabilia and rambles on about how women in these stories use their sexy violence to woo the heroes into winning battles. He talks about his favorite Ishii films, smokes a lot, and flips through a book. He talks about the differences between real life Yakuza and movie Yakuza and he talks about how a lot of Toei's films were meant to be entertainment before they were meant to be art. He discusses the key elements of pinky violence films and finally, he gives his thoughts on Bohachi Bushido. One gets the impression that this dude is a little quirky, but he certainly knows his stuff and some of his thoughts are inspired and interesting.

    Rounding out the extra features is an essay on the history of the film from author Chris D., a selection of the original Manga (from Kazuo Koike) translated into English and presented as a still gallery, an essay entitled Memories Of Bohachi Bushido from writer Mark Shilling, a still gallery of production images, and trailers for the feature (3:10) and a few other Discotek releases.

    Bohachi Bushido: Code Of The Forgotten Eight - The Final Word:

    Bohachi Busido: Code Of The Forgotten Eight is a tripped out exercise in artsy exploitation filmmaking. Ishii's direction and penchant for the bizarre makes this one stand out and Tanba's stone cold performance is as intense as it is memorable. Plenty of extra features and rock solid AV quality makes this disc essential for fans of vintage Japanese trash films.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      This is one of my favorites. It's so visually interesting and cool. Would kill for a Blu-ray release.