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  Sukeban: Girl Boss Guerilla Biker Babes Go Crazy in KyotoBuy this film here.
Year: 1972
Director: Norifumi Suzuki
Stars: Miki Sugimoto, Reiko Ike, Emi Jo, Chie Kobayashi, Linda Kimoto, Naomi Oka, Ryoko Ema, Miwako Onaya, Midori Hiro, Kaya Hodumi, Kyoko Tsukasa, Tadashi Naruse, Michitaro Mizushima, Natsuko Miura, Cassius Naito, Toru Abe
Genre: Horror, Comedy, Sex, Action, Weirdo
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Teenage tearaway Sachiko (gorgeous, pouting Miki Sugimoto) leads the Red Helmet Gang, a pack of nubile, colour-coded biker bombshells who invade Kyoto. Accosted by some rowdy punks, she bears the dragon tattoo upon her left breast that tells them they've messed with the wrong schoolgirl, then karate kicks them into oblivion. Sachiko and her sexy vixens - Yuki, Linda and Ukko - strut around town, effortlessly able to steal, seduce, blackmail and bully themselves a healthy pile of cash, although nymphomaniac Ukko so enjoys her sex-capade with an old geezer atop a revolving bed, she forgets to rob him. Their activities ignite a turf war with local Kyoto girl gangs, which is diffused when enigmatic lone she-wolf Nami (Reiko Ike - stunning in blue satin) returns home and anoints Sachiko her successor.

Nami is reunited with her older brother Nakahara, now a bigwig with local crime syndicate the Tsutsui Gang and resentful she refused to sleep with his yakuza boss. When the yakuza help themselves to the Red Helmet Gang's hard-earned profits, fearless Sachiko ambushes them in an alleyway but is almost killed before bare-knuckle, boxing ace Ichiro (Michitaro Mizushima) heroically intervenes. Sachiko falls for the starry-eyed stud, who dreams of making it big in the boxing ring. Flush with profit from her recent blackmail scheme against a lecherous Buddhist monk, she and Ichiro spend a sex-filled weekend at a hot-springs resort, but the vengeful yakuza aren't too far behind.

"Pinky Violence" was the catch-all term given to the multitude of sexploitation-action-horror movies cranked out by Japan's Toei studio during the 1970s. Historical comedies, ninja romps and karate thrillers were all part of the brand but by far the most popular were the delinquent schoolgirl, or sukeban, movies. Sukeban: Girl Boss Guerilla was the third in a series of seven films that alternately cast the studio's top-ranking starlets, eighteen year old Reiko Ike and seventeen year old Miki Sugimoto in the lead, or in this instance doubled your pleasure by pairing them together. Indeed the ploy worked so well, Toei re-teamed the dishy duo in several more movies over the ensuing years, including the more overtly horrific Terrifying Girls' High School: Lynch Law Classroom (1973) - itself part of a popular series - and stand-alone title Criminal Woman: Killing Melody (1973).

The joke for Japanese audiences - and despite their rampant sex scenes and lurid sadism, these films are meant to be amusing - lies in seeing fresh-faced teenage girls play at being hard-boiled and adhering to the same codes and rituals as yakuza hard men. However, unlike many of their western sex film counterparts, Ike and Sugimoto had genuine acting talent to match their stunning looks. Sugimoto in particular attacks her roles with an erotically-charged ferocity that commands respect even when she's strung up and tortured with a cigarette lighter or writhing in orgasmic bliss through one of her abundant sex scenes.

Captured in blazing comic book colours by gifted director Norifumi Suzuki, this is put together like a four course meal: some saucy Carry On style humour (e.g. a pervert posing as a gynaecologist; Ukko getting pissed on while retrieving evidence from a communal toilet); snippets of outright horror (Sachiko drags one villainess across a rocky road till her face is red raw); plentiful gory violence and nudity from all the beautiful actresses - albeit with lovingly lingering close-ups reserved for the voluptuous Miki - and even a handful of musical interludes.

Suzuki's something for everyone approach has been criticised by some, but gives his films a unique flavour alongside their manga-in-motion visual flair and often laugh-out-loud satirical humour. His usual targets - corporate corruption and organized religion - receive their due. A womanizing Buddhist is a worthy blackmail victim. The delicious Ukko seduces a Catholic priest only to catch a venereal disease. Whereupon Sachiko gets her to shag half the yakuza crew, so come the morning we see them screaming while they pee!

Away from grisly violence and low-brow humour, Suzuki also indulges in some Jean-Luc Godard style free-associative visuals, staging key scenes beside vintage movie posters. He also weaves in a surprisingly affecting portrait of free-living individuals, be they folk musicians, determined young boxers or fun-loving anarchist schoolgirls. All are ultimately more humane and admirable than the brutal, hypocritical gangsters yet destined for a life laced with melancholy and loneliness in a world increasingly corrupted and corporatised. Okay, it's primarily about relishing Miki in the buff, and yeah it's amoral and exploitative, but isn't that the point?

Click here for the trailer

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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