When filmmakers introduced a ‘first kiss’ for a Japanese film in 1946 (people kissing were covered by umbrella), it was incredibly late for Europeans & USA. As a comparison, America, at that time, was in a ‘Production Code’ era which came as a result of the depraved films coming up on-screen. More than 20 years earlier, in America’s pre-code era, nobody was afraid of kisses or presenting people in sexually suggestive situation.
In 40s and 50s, even though sex was a taboo, Japanese started shoving more flesh on-screen, as, when all the war and post-war depressions came, people wanted to go to theatres and see some… ghm… nice-looking people naked. That’s why pornsites are gaining popularity these days, during the repression, right?
In 60s, Japanese started producing their erotic pictures, called Pink films. The differences between the Japanese erotic/porno pictures of that time compared to those made by Europeans or Americans are huuuuuge. And Japanese win. Why? This is funny, but because of limitations. Americans and Europeans could shove whatever they like – they were able to show erected genitals on-screen. As the image has some sort of shock value to it, they just keep making these shots, because it’s an easy way, babe. While Japanese didn’t have that right. They couldn’t show THAT much. So, they had to come up with the ways to make you think that you’ve seen more than you actually did – and that always work great!
In ‘Reservoir Dogs’, you never see the ear being sliced but the image comes up in your head. This image is far more gruesome than something Tarantino could show you. Because your imagination, maaaan, works better than Tarantino’s production designer.
Same with sex – as Japanese couldn’t operate by ‘show me your genitaaals, your genitaaals!’ principle, they had to come up with some super-creative way to show sex. And the result is Pink films.
‘Sex and Fury’ came by when Pink films were a very popular type of entertainment. In the 70s huge Japanese studios realised they could make some money out of it and started their own, high-budget Pinky productions. Another huge hit by that time were Samurai movies – all the ‘Streetfighters’, ‘Ladies Snowblood” and other films about a bunch of people fighting for different causes. So, some Pink film directors produced a genre-hybrid, something inbetween Pink & Samurai movies (means apart from suggestive erotic imagery, films contained some neat fight scenes).
Director Norifumi – or Noribumi – Suzuki was already huge in Pink film market at the time he directed ‘Sex and Fury’. He made some totally mind-blowing stuff and was known for the strong visuals, absolutely phenomenal fight scenes and strong sexual imagery. What can I say – all of this is incorporated in ‘Sex and Fury’.
The story is very similar to ‘Lady Snowblood’ and similar revenge flicks, so there is no surprises here. Father of a little girl was killed by the member of a gang and when this girl grows up and becomes super bad-ass fighter, she kicks the bad guys in their fucking faces with a huge motherfucking sword. Yep.
The way it is shot is very unique to Japanese films. Nobody makes movies this way. Nobody. This film mixes sex & violence brilliantly and some scenes kick ‘Kill Bill’ ass (‘Kill Bill’ exploits only violence, avoiding sex – Tarantino is no Kubrick).
Red Snow fighting sequence is one of the most beautiful things you’ll ever see on screen. Heroine is battling the bad guys nude, dancing on the snow. We see her feet moving, sword slicing through the air and men guts, blood dripping down on the white snow.
Later on in the movie, Christina Lindberg’s character plays with Reiko Ike’s some Japanese card game. The scenes contains zero sex or violence, but it is one of the most intense and innovative scenes I’ve ever seen on film.
The final moments of revenge are shot beautifully as well.
Acting is probably the only really weak point of this film. Christina Lindberg – beautiful, young and sexy Swedish actress with huge eyes, was inserted here because of her beauty not talent. Sadly, some moments of her performance were not natural at all (she fakes any emotion apart from orgasm quite shitty) so some dramatic moments involving her character looked almost comical, well that is a shame. Reiko Ike is quite a good actor, some say that she ‘was born to play this role’… eeh…. maybe. She’s no Heath Ledger, but no Kristen Stewart either.
Okay, finally I got to the point you wanted me to get to, perverted assholes! Sex. There is plenty of sex in the movie, but it is shot incredibly tastefully and maybe even rather not revealing enough for you, Western reader. That means you’re open to imagine some of the things, so, like I pointed out in my ‘Reservoir Dogs’ analogy, sex will strike you as they don’t show you the regular uninteresting in-and-out action, if you know what I mean (and I mean the closeups of fucking private parts), leaving you a plenty to imagine. And that’s where Christina Lindberg, who fell short in the acting category, shines. Her VERY white Swedish skin is always filmed on the background far from white. That creates an effect similar to the one in ‘Red Snow’ (blood-on-the-snow) sequence. And this is beautiful.
Resume: this film is so good that even some bad acting won’t kill the greatness of it. It’s one of these Grindhouse films you won’t stop loving. It’s a B-movie shot better than most of the A-pics.