Wandering Ginza Butterfly 1 and 2

Synapse Films are releasing DVD Meiko Kaji's (Lady Snowblood, Female Prisoner #701) Wandering Ginza Butterfly and it's sequel Wandering Ginza: She-Cat Gambler. The sequel see's her joined by the legendary "Streetfighter" himself Sonny Chiba. Both films are directed by Kazuhiko Yamaguchi (Delinquent Girl Boss: Worthless to Confess, Sister Street Fighter).

In Wandering Ginza Butterfly Kaji plays Nami, a girl boss who kills a local mob boss and spends a few years in jail. On her return to society she once again finds herself embroiled in underworld violence. The sequel see's her in the same role, this time however she is on a quest for revenge seeking the man who killed her father when she was a child.

According to Twitch Film (you can find expanded plot details and trailers there as well) the DVDs features include New, fully restored, anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) transfer mastered in high-definition from Toei’s original vault elements. Japanese language with newly-translated, removable English subtitles. Audio commentary by Japanese film expert Chris D. (author of Outlaw Masters of Japanese Film). New, exclusive video interview with director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi. Original Japanese theatrical trailers for both films. Reversible cover with original Japanese poster artwork.


Via: synapsefilms.blogspot.com

Sex and Fury

A young girl witnesses the murder of her father who is a detective and the only clue to his killers are three cards which carry the pictures of a deer, a boar and a butterfly, but what does it mean?

The years pass and the girl has grown into a beautiful young woman who goes by the name of Ochô Inoshika, played by Japanese exploitation superstar Reiko Ike (. Having survived a tough life as a female orphan in patriarchal Japan, Ochô has to been strong and streetwise and prepared to use whatever means she had at hand, which quite often means her naked body. A skilled gambler and blade wielding streetfighter, Ochô finds herself thrown into a deadly confrontation with powerful, scheming factions whose true identity could be the key to her own revenge.

Sex and Fury is in many ways summed up by its title, as the character, Ochô's personality is easily summed up by both. A woman driven by a burning inner fury who will use sex as a weapon if she needs to (and this being an exploitation film it's pretty much guaranteed she is going to need to … a lot.) Reiko Ike (Terrifying Girls' High School: Lynch Law Classroom, Girl Boss Guerilla, Female Yakuza Tale) is Joined in the film by Swedish exploitation sex-bomb, Christina Lindberg, best known for the Tarantino-influencing cult classic Thriller, A Cruel Picture AKA They Call Her One Eye. So, you know there is going to be a serious dose a naked. Christina plays Christina, a British spy and devil at the card table in the employ of a sleazy Brit on a mission to destabilise the emerging power of Japan and start another Opium war. Unknown to her boss, Christina became a spy to travel to Japan to find a former lover, a Japanese son of a man wronged by the same powerful group that Ochô is taking on. Needless to say, a degree of co-operation ensues to take on the mutual foes.

Enough of the plot, though, as needless to say it really performs as a vehicle to drive the sex and fury onscreen that exploitation audiences hunger for, including a Lady Snowblood-alike scene in which Reiko Ike strips naked and fights her male attackers in a snowbound courtyard. Most of the performances are very good, although the English speaking characters acting and delivery leaves a lot to be desired. I can only imagine the Japanese director was unaware of how bad they sounded, but that's OK as there is nothing wrong with an element of cheese in an exploitation movie and they don’t have a lot of dialogue. I guess I don’t need to tell you that the woman are sexy, the bad guy's eeeevil and the blood flows; it's a prerequisite of this type of movie after all. Reiko Ike is a great actress who really warms up the screen and has a very expressive face. which means she can convey many emotions without saying a word.

As exploitation films go, director Noribumi Suzuki has created a very attractive film; mixing pop art décor, funky seventies kitsch music and creating a great feel of an Eastern nation colliding with, and absorbing, elements of Western culture into its own. Many of the key exploitation elements are there; naked flesh, lesbian encounters, inter-racial love (maybe not exploitative now, but remember its 1973,) torture, gambling, organised crime, prostitution, extreme violence, rape and even a slice of nunsploitation and blasphemy. Fans of female Cult sirens will certainly want to watch out for the scene in which Christina Lindberg dons a swade cowgirl outfit and is made to whip a half naked and chained Reiko Ike.

While it will no doubt draw comparisons to well known Japanese cinema of the period including many samurai films, and the gambling scene at the begging is very remanisant of a Zatoichi movie, Ochô's outcast status similar to that of Ogami Ittô from the Lone Wolf series, it is perhaps Lady Snowblood which will draw the most comparisons and, in terms of setting, it can at times feel like Ochô could pass Meiko Kaji in the street (the same manga was the inspiration for both films). However, the characters are very different; Snowblood's Meiko Kaji is a trained and deadly emotionally controlled beast of vengeance, while Ochô is an emotional, wild spirit of fury, deadly with a blade but she is a rough and ready streetfighter and should the two have ever met in fantasy vs. land you get the feeling Meiko would dispatch Ochô without breaking a sweat. Both films where made in 1973 and both have there place in the collection of any serious fan of Japanese Cult cinema. So leaving aside comparisons and fanboy vs. dreams, Sex and Fury as an introduction to the "bad girl cinema" of Japanese studio Toei is an incredibly entertaining film. Packed with pretty much everything you could ever want from a well made exploitation film and its sequel Female Yakuza Tale is just as good.

Glorious bad girl action, Reiko Ike is indeed sexy and furious, as she slashes and sleeps her way to deadly revenge! 8/10

Sex and Fury - trailer

Lynch Law Classroom

The super strict School of hope which prides itself on taking delinquent teenage girls and making them into suitable fodder for wives and mothers receives three new students. Amongst the three is Noriko AKA "The boss with the cross" and she has an agenda which has nothing at all to do with being turned into a respectable member of Japanese society. How ever the school is run by a pack of girls who form a disciplinary committee and with the backing of the corrupt vice principle they run things with an iron hand.

Terrifying Girls' High School: Lynch Law Classroom opens with a semi naked schoolgirl being held against her will in the science lab. She is surrounded by a group of girls wearing red surgical masks and armbands. The girls have set up some pipes and jars and placed a needle and tube in her arm and have convinced her they are going to bleed her to death. Hysterical she brakes free and runs out onto the roof of the school, her tormentors drive her to the edge and force her to fall to her death. The girl they killed though was lieutenant in the gang of Noriko the cross and now she has come to the school to find out just what happened, believing her lieutenant was not easily defeated. Once she gets there Noriko finds more than she bargained for as the school is completely corrupt with girls used by the administration for sex and rampant bullying performed by the disciplinary committee.

Lynch Law Classroom is directed by legendary Japanese exploitation director Norifumi Suzuki, who is maybe best known in the west for Sex and Fury as well as exploitation classics like School of the Holy Beast, Girl Boss Guerrilla and a slew of Terrifying Girls' High School films. While not a match for Sex and Fury, Lynch Law Classroom is excellent fun and a great example of Toei’s classic 70's bad girl cinema. All the ingredients are there, cute girls who are not afraid to bear some flesh, soft-core sex, lesbians, girl on girl violence and a dash of rape. Though described as pink cinema these films differ a lot from the artistic brutality of Nikkatsu's Roman Porno films like the Angel guts series and Watcher in the attic. Although exploitative the sense of fun is much stronger as is female empowerment (all be it within the realms of a very masculine fantasy). Both Toei’s top girl stars are present for this slice of funky girlie fun. Reiko Ike (Female Yakuza Tale) plays second fiddle though in this outing to rival starlette Miki Sugimoto (Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs) who takes the lead role as Noriko.

As you can imagine a sexploitation flick centring on Japanese schoolgirls is not exactly a film that's going to be crammed with politically correct imagery. In the opening scene which see the girl driven from the roof the camera spends as much time zooming in a the subjects knickers as it does her face. This does make you feel kind of wrong watching it. The plot is pretty threadbare and plays on the classic youth vs. the system theme which has comes up in a lot of Japanese cinema. How ever you didn’t start watching this for plot you came for the funky music, the kitsch fashion and most of all semi naked Japanese girls hitting each other and the films delivers on all those counts.

So if you love, 70 films, funky music, exploitation, Japanese cinema this should be for you. If you’re a fan of Norifumi Suzuki, Reiko Ike, Miki Sugimoto and their friends this is also for you. Fans of Pam Grier's 70's blaxploiation movies should also find themselves pretty much at home with this film as theme tough women who don't mind if their clothes come off at some point in the film theme is pretty similar as is the sonic background. The film does get slightly weaker towards the end, but it makes for fun viewing all the way through. 

Terrifying Girls' High School: Lynch Law Classroom was featured as part of Panik Houses Pinky Violence Collection, but is now available on it's own.


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