• Sex & Fury (Panik House) DVD Review

    Released by: Panik House
    Released on: September 26th, 2005.
    Director: Norifumi Suzuki
    Cast: Reiko Ike, Christina Lindberg, Rie Saotome
    Year: 1973
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    Sex & Fury – Movie Review:

    Sultry Reiko Ike plays Ocho Inoshika, a gambler and pickpocket operating out of the Tokyo of the early 1920s who, at a young age, witnessed the brutal murder of her father who was a detective who had learned too much about a local politician.

    Fast forward a few years and she's all grown up now, deftly making her living on the streets and living with a few kindred spirits, taking advantage of anyone she can to get what she wants.

    When Ocho is in a gambling parlor and witnesses the attempt on a man’s life by a young anarchist, a few men are killed in the ensuing fray. Ocho holds a man in her arms as he dies and his last request is that she head out and find his sister, Yuki, to buy her out of a life of prostitution. She agrees, and sets out to find Yuki, and it’s not too long before she tracks her down.

    Ocho tries to buy her back from the brothel owner using the money that the dying man gave her, but he instead opts to have her risk her own virtue in a game of chance against another female gambler named Christina (played by Christina Lindberg of Thriller) from the west. Ocho agrees and she wins Yuki back, but not before the man can deflower her.

    Christina, on the other hand, is not only a female gambler but also a foreign agent sent to help stop the anarchists from messing up the local government. She and Ocho strike up a rather stressed friendship, or more of a begrudging respect for one another, and we soon learn that there’s a connection between the two of them, the anarchist, and the criminals who run the brothel and it’s all going to lead to cold hearted revenge and a blood spurting climax of sex and violence!

    When the movie starts we witness a young Ocho who sees her father brutally murdered at the hands of the local Yakuza. Shortly after, at about eleven minutes into the movie, there’s an absolutely fantastic scene in which Ocho is resting in a tub of hot water. A team of assassins come into the room, she grabs her sword, hops out of the tub, and carves them up wearing nothing but her birthday suit as the walls crash down and the combatants tumble into the snow outside in a moment that eerily resembles a similar scene from Kill Bill.

    These scenes set the tone for the rest of the film which is a veritable cornucopia of exploitative elements shot with such enthusiasm and a fine eye for detail that it almost transcends that label and becomes an art film..…


    In the early seventies, when this film was made, the Japanese studios were trying to find ways to lure the populace away from the ever expanding television market and back into the theaters, and one way that they could do this was to show audiences what they couldn’t see on television – explicit sex and violence. This lead to an amazing wave of exploitation, horror, Yakuza, girl gang, pinku and Roman Porno films to come out of Japan for the next decade and a half. Sex & Fury doesn’t go as far as a lot of the films that came after it did but it still manages to pack quite a punch.

    Aside from a few fantastic sword play sequences and the odd rape scene or two, Sex & Fury also benefits from the fantastic pairing of Reiko Ike and Christina Lindberg. Both actresses have a similar look and a similar talent for saying more with their eyes and facial expressions than with their mouths and it works really well in this film.

    They play off one another’s strengths quite nicely and their presence is enough to carry their scenes together, even if there are a few head scratching moments in terms of the structure of the story. Ike is the very epitome is the cinematic bad girl, playing her role with a sense of collected cool and tough attitude that can rival that of even better known North American tough gals such as Tura Satana from Faster Pussycat… Kill! Kill! or Pam Grier in Foxy Brown.

    Norifumi Suzuki paces the film very quickly, kicking the action off from the get go and keeping it moving until the climactic finale in which Ocho must make her escape from her captors and exact her revenge.

    The penultimate set piece shares some similarities to the director’s earlier film, School Of The Holy Beast, and fans of that widely recognized masterpiece of nunsploitation should enjoy this more rough and tumble film from the same director. It’s not quite as stylized but it’s close, finding the time to throw in some interesting psychedelic visuals, crazed spinning camera work, and plenty of politically incorrect misogynist behavior sure to ruffle a few feathers out there.

    Sex & Fury – DVD Review:

    Panik House gives Sex & Fury 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, comprised of everything from romantic instrumental music to some free form be-boppin’ jazz, comes through with a little more punch than you’ll probably expect it to.

    The most substantial of the extra features comes in the form of an audio commentary with the mysteriously named Chris D. who serves as the American Cinematheque film programmer and who authored the book Outlaw Masters of Japanese Film. While there are a few too many instances of dead air, Chris does a good job of filling us in on the background of many of the bit players that pop up in the film (who knew so many of the supporting actors in this movie showed up in the Lone Wolf And Cub films?) and providing some interesting insight into various scenes. He gives us some good background information on the state of Japanese cinema at the time, as well as how and why many of this Pinky Violence films came to be so popular. He explains the basics of Lindberg’s presence in the film as well as the reasons why she’s dressed the way that she is and he draws some interesting parallels between the films of Norifumi Suzuki and Lucio Fulci and other popular European genre films.

    Rounding out the extra features are Norifumi Suzuki & Reiko Ike biographies by Chris D., a Christina Lindberg biography and gallery, 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..

    Sex & Fury – The Final Word:

    If you have even a passing interest in the Japanese exploitation scene of the seventies, consider this one an essential purchase. Sex & Fury is exactly that – eighty eight minutes of flesh and carnage set on top of a simple but effective revenge story. It’s directed with plenty of flair and plenty of style and makes use of two stellar genre actresses in the lead roles. Panik House could have put a bit more into the supplements department (okay, I’m whining, I realize this…) but even still, this is hands down a fantastic release.

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      This DVD was my gateway into Japanese film and Pinky Violence. It was recommended on some website in article about the films that influenced Kill Bill. That article and possibly this film are what got me into Exploitation film in general which spread to Eurocrime, Gialli, Spanish Horror and Hammer films as well. If this film had sucked I may not be posting on this website right now. My movie collection would be much smaller and quite boring. I absolutely love this film. I sure would love for Arrow to release a Reiko Ike BD boxset some day.
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      That's awesome! And yeah, an Ike Blu-ray set would be killer. A shame there aren't very many labels taking chances on movies like this on Blu-ray.