• Star Of David: Beautiful Girl Hunter (Impulse Pictures) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Impulse Pictures
    Released on: October 5th, 2021.
    Director: Norifumi Suzuki
    Cast: Shun Domon, Hiromi Namino, Asami Ogawa, Natsuko Yagi, Yuka Asagiri, Yûko Asuka, Hiroshi Nawa, Rei Okamoto, Bunta Sugawara
    Year: 1979
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    Star Of David: Beautiful Girl Hunter – Movie Review:

    One of the best known pink films to come out of Nikkatsu Studios, Star Of David: Beautiful Girl Hunter (also known as Star of David: Hunting For Beautiful Girls and as Star Of David: Beauty Hunting) begins in the 1950s where a man breaks into a home and proceeds to tie up the wife and make the husband watch as he rapes her. Nine months later the woman gives birth to the rapist’s son, a child who her husband has nothing but complete disdain for. The young boy is beaten and abused, as is the woman, who the husband hates for climaxing during the rape.

    Cut to what would have been the present day when the film was made in 1979 and we meet the boy, Tatsuya (Shun Domon), now a young adult. His wealthy mother and ‘step father’ have both passed on, the later at Tatsuya’s hand, and left him a small fortune. As he doesn’t have to work, he spends his time masturbating to Holocaust pictures and abducting pretty girls to rape and abuse. It seems that the apple hasn’t fallen too far from the tree. As we see Tatsuya go about his filthy business, it all leads up to a rather fascinating and unexpected conclusion…

    Director Norifumi Suzuki has justly earned himself a bit of a reputation in cult movie circles for crafting some of the more memorable ‘pink’ and ‘Roman Porno’ movies to have seen legitimate English-friendly release on home video. Films like School Of The Holy Beast, Sex And Fury and Terrifying Girls’ High School: Lynch Law Classroom have all found an audience thanks to Suzuki’s uncanny ability to blend the requisite exploitation elements like sex and violence with genuinely interesting stories and often times superlative visuals. Star Of David stands with the best of his entries in this genre, thanks to those same qualities.

    Yes, the film definitely features a pretty ridiculous amount of sexualized violence, rape, and torture but underneath all of that there’s actually a pretty interesting and unusually humanistic storyline that bubbles up often enough to make this one stand out from the typical Nikkatsu S&M/rape themed fare. Adding to that is Suzuki’s often seen penchant for adding Catholic iconography into his films, and this time we even get some unusual Nazi imagery as well. The film has absolutely no qualms about shoving taboos in the audience’s face, be it bondage, sadism, bestiality, or anti-Semitic politics but behind all of that is the simple tale of a young man who doesn’t really know who he is and, in turn, searches for a sense of identity. Granted, this is told through a story in which a young man, covered in blood, rapes a bound woman in front of a stained glass window depicting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, so the visuals do tend to overpower the more ‘tender’ side of this odd morality tale, but that side is definitely there even if it isn’t always obvious.

    Like many of Suzuki’s films, Star Of David is a gorgeous looking picture that does an amazing job using color to portray emotion and tension. The Bava-esque primary hues bathe certain scenes and give them a dramatic air of sophistication that somehow manages to elevate the softcore sex scenes to something more akin to a classical painting. Setting the entire picture to an emotive and, at times, rather touching instrumental score also helps in this regard. The performances are strong across the board, with Shun Domon turning in an excellent lead and with welcome supporting efforts from Asami Ogawa and Hiroshi Nawa. The legendary Bunta Sugawara, star of too many Yakuza films to list, has a brief cameo role in the picture and the stunningly beautiful Hiromi Namino does a fine job in her debut as Tatsuya’s unfortunate girlfriend.

    Star Of David: Beautiful Girl Hunter – Blu-ray Review:

    Impulse Pictures brings Star Of David: Beautiful Girl Hunter to region A Blu-ray in its original uncensored version in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen with the feature taking up 23.76GBs of space on the 25GB disc. This is, by and large, a very nice presentation making you wish Impulse would put more of these out on Blu-ray instead of just DVD. Regardless, picture quality here holds up nicely. Detail is quite strong throughout and we get a lot of appreciable depth and texture in the image. There are no problems with any noise reduction or edge enhancement and the picture retains the expected amount of film grain but doesn’t show much in the way at all of any problematic print damage.

    The only audio option provided on the disc is a 16-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track in the film’s native Japanese language, with optional subtitles offered up in English only. The track is clean and properly balanced, free of any problems with audible hiss or distortion. No issues here.

    The extras on this release are carried over from the 2009 DVD release that came out in North America via Discotek Media/Eastern Star. We start off with an audio commentary featuring Norifumi Suzuki himself. In Japanese with English subtitles, the moderator keeps Suzuki talking about the cast and crew that he worked with on this picture as well as some of the nastier themes that we see played out in the movie. He explains the ‘fallen angel’ motif used in the movie, talks about who shot what for the picture, and discusses adapting the original manga into a live action movie. They talk about the marketing of the film, the one sheet specifically, how they wanted some of the rope play scenes to look like spider webs, and about how the lead character’s intense hatred of mankind doesn’t necessarily represent Suzuki’s own world view. They talk about Suzuki’s Truck Bastard films and how some of the ideas from that series spill into this one and about what was and was not changed from the original source material in its voyage to a feature film. This is a really solid discussion, one with very little dead air which proves to be pretty informative even if there are often times where the moderator, who lends some very welcome critical interpretation to the track, does more talking than the somewhat subdued director.

    There’s also an excellent fourteen minute interview with Norifumi Suzuk, who talks about how he got his start at Toei ‘by accident’ and how part of his success came from his ability to better communicate with some of the producers. He also discusses the ‘period film’ slump that Toei was in when he joined up. Surprisingly humble about his work and his ability, he attributes his success to being in the right place at the right time. From there he explains how he went to work for Nikkatsu Studios to do a live action version of the manga story, Star Of David, because Toei wouldn’t make it. He describes the film as one that deals with ‘the joy of being evil’ before comparing it to his Toei films talking about the differences in his work for the two studios. He also talks about the large budget he had to work with on Star Of David, and, more interestingly, where some of the Christian influences in this and other films in his filmography come from.

    Aside from that, the disc also includes a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection. Also worth noting is that Impulse has provided some nice reversible cover sleeve art for this release, with a censored version of the art on one side and the uncensored version on the reverse.

    Star Of David: Beautiful Girl Hunter – The Final Word:

    Impulse Pictures has done an excellent job with this release. The transfer looks excellent and the supplements, while not new to the this release, are interesting and informative. As for the film itself, Star Of David: Beautiful Girl Hunter is rightfully considered a bit of a classic of the genre. It’s twisted, but beautifully made, truly a fascinatingly bizarre film ripe with memorable imagery and stand out set pieces.

    Click on the images below for full-sized Star Of David: Beautiful Girl Hunter screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. AngelGuts's Avatar
      AngelGuts -
      Concur with this review. The film is a Roman Porno masterpiece, and one of the most striking visually and thematically.

      The original manga cartoon, based on almost a dozen manga magazines, features quite limited animation, so this live action version represents a significant leap.

      Would have been great to see Nikkatsu sequelizing the film by mining the fascinating mangas, many of which venture into similarly outrageous areas.

      This disk features a similar transfer to the German BluRay and is a must.