The Pinky Violence Collection Review
Over the years Japan has managed to turn just about every film genre on its head, making them spew up some of the most intense, surreal and unapologetic trash or masterpieces (or both) of all time. After the golden samurai era of the 50’s and the push toward Yakuza in the 60’s the economically advancing nation took a new route toward enticing audiences during the latter part of the flower-power era, and began producing in large numbers what are essentially the ultimate in exploitation cinema – “Pinky Violence”, which, as mentioned in my review for Sex & Fury were designed to take adult audiences away from the predictable drudgery that was showing on TV. Several series were produced almost simultaneously; these we’ll get into for each film respectively. Each of the four films included in Panik House’s “Pinky Violence collection" are taken from a particular series; while each offers their own unique brand of style they share a few things in common: The protagonists portrayed are female rogues who have issues with the society they live in and refuse to live by any strict rule. Their tearaway antics often see them running into trouble at the hands of Yakuza or rival girl gangs, who are quite predictable and clichéd affairs but are also a part of something much bigger, as a growing Japan succumbs to evident commentaries on the state of its vigilant government and systems.
Delinquent Girl Boss: Worthless to Confess (1971).
Starring: Reiko Oshida, Masumi Tachibana, Yukie Kagawa, Mieko Tsudoi, Yumiko Katayama, Yoko Ichiji, Rieko Maruyama, Nobuo Kaneko, Ichiro Nakatani, Tonpei Hidari, Tsunehiko Watase and Junzaburo Ban.
Directed by Kazuhiko Yamaguchi.
| When Rika (Reiko Oshida) is released from reform school after serving a year she heads back to Shinjuku in order to start life anew. She visits her former cellmate Midori’s (Yumiko Katayama) father (Junzaburo Ban), who once paid a visit and met Rika by chance, whereupon she kept hold of a small toy that he tried to get to his daughter. He is the owner of a garage where lately business hasn’t been running too smoothly, but despite this he offers Rika a roof over her head and a job so that she may stay out of trouble and provide him pleasant company. However his daughter has managed to run up quite a bill thanks to her boyfriend’s gambling debts, and soon the local Yakuza come knocking on her father’s door demanding payment. Elsewhere several of Rika’s old friends are finding themselves worse for wear as they hold down menial jobs. With the Yakuza having strong ties with these workplaces it’s only a matter of time before things soon start to get out of hand. The girls must band together if they’re to escape the clutches of these men, but it will mean heading straight into the dragon’s den for an ultimate and unforgettable showdown.
The fourth and final film in the Zubenko Bancho series, Delinquent Girl Boss proves to be something of a departure in this collection for several reasons. Director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi finishes off the series he began in 1970. Here he brings us something which is far more separated from the similarly themed, yet ultimately darker pinku entries. First and foremost the lack of emphasis on sex and violence for a large portion of its duration makes this a somewhat curious addition to the genre, coming from a time when the aforementioned enticers were its primary selling point. Though its inclusion in the set is totally justified for a number of reasons this is far more an all out comical piece. This very fact might not go down too well with the hardcore expectants; however its tongue in cheek approach makes for a refreshing change of pace. Naturally it has more characters than it knows what to do with, but those who do frequent in and out serve the main storyline particularly well; and being the hopeless fan that I am I couldn’t help but smile every time the legendary Tonpei Hidari (who would later take over from Toshiyuki Nishida as Pigsy in the wonderful Monkey!) appeared on screen. In a sense the comedy within fills the need for vital energeticism, which would usually come through in any number of films from this period via methods of violence. So it’s all so very light when compared to some of the other films that I’ll be looking at, never threatening to live up to overly serious taboo issues, but rather keeping very playful throughout instead.
If at all the duration of the film seems almost too reserved then the final moments provide a neat turnaround, whereby our naughty heroines take to the streets in an act of revenge, soon arriving at the big boss’ hangout. Yamaguchi immediately sets the tone by having the girls brandish katanas, in front of a backdrop that would make Mondrian feel right at home, and if he invited Warhol and Kandinsky then wow, what a party that would be. It’s also where the eager director gets to show off his imagination, which until this point had been somewhat restrained; cue a series of hyper-kinetic sword flashes and more importantly the prize up-skirt shot from beneath a glass floor board.
|Nevertheless the film still finds time to address society in a way that should resonate with like-minded youths. There is a sense that Yamaguchi is all too interested in providing a positive note for those feeling less inclined to follow the law, that despite any hardships they go through they don’t necessarily have to stick to a single path which is determined by their standing or upbringing. Clearly the emphasis that these women are orphans highlights the desperate and volatile environment for which to stage such a newsflash, then for it to be paired with pregnancy issues and debt ensures that many a box is ticked. But one wonders if this is all too much for the casual viewer to take on board; is it necessary to strip the film of the very things that the audiences want to see? That depends on the individual and the goals of its director, but as far as this reviewer is concerned it is both an interesting and valid part of the “Pinky Violence” family.|
Girl Boss Guerrilla (1972).
Starring: Miki Sugimoto, Naomi Oka, Chie Kobayashi, Emi Jo, Keisuke Ootori, Utako Kyo, Hachiro Oka, Toru Abe, Hiroshi Nawa, Michitaro Mizushima and Reiko Ike.
Directed by Norifumi Suzuki.
| The “Red Helmet Gang” arrives in Kyoto after travelling from Shinjuku; “Speedy” Yuki, Linda, Ukko and their leader Sachiko (Miki Sugimoto) are ready to settle in on Yuki’s birth city, hoping to find rich men and cause some trouble. It isn’t long before they confront a local girl gang and get involved in a fight for turf supremacy. After defeating the leader of the Kyogoku group, Rika the former boss “Lone Wolf” Nami (Reiko Ike) steps in and acknowledges Sachiko’s position as the new Kyoto boss. But the turf comes with a price, as Sachiko soon finds out that the Tsutsui gang, led by Nami’s brother Nakahara wishes to oversee the girls’ every operation and get money in the process. After a local brawl soon breaks out the girls are saved by Ichiro Miyazaki, a boxer who immediately catches the eye of Sachiko and thus her infatuation with him takes over any such desire to run the local Kyogoku. When Ichiro leaves town to train for an upcoming fight at a nearby beach resort Sachiko and her friends join him, but little do they know that the Tsutsui gang is hot on his heals.
Opening with four young women, each one riding motorcycles along the middle of a busy highway the third entry in the Sukeban series kicks off to a flying (though unoriginal) start. While in the same year Delinquent Girl Boss was bordering on tame, Norifumi Suzuki was reaping the rewards of being a big ol’ perv – not surprising then.
Girl Boss Guerrilla treads a fine line indeed and luckily Suzuki isn’t particularly concerned as to what he can and can’t get away with. Not one to let up he revels in the idea of taking several subjects and doing unto them very naughty things. No class is left alone or stone unturned as he delights in cultural taboo by using humour to hit hard; after all this is a guy who at one point places emphasis on a promiscuous, central character by having her go around, willingly giving Yakuza denizens the clap. Furthermore his attention shifts to other areas which at times offer significance only to himself, from comments toward ungroomed females to frying bigger fish with religious ethics and sexuality. Rather unashamedly then Suzuki challenges many morals, and one can only presume that he had a glint in his eye all the way. Of course being an era in which free love was largely advocated it might not be worth pointing out under any other circumstance but when many repercussions are as fiercely portrayed as they are here we can only imagine at what Suzuki was trying to achieve.
The film is also notable for its pairing of Reiko Ike and Miki Sugimoto, the latter who was being prepared to take over from Ike’s mantle by way of larger roles. Reportedly there was a little tension during their backstage adventures which undoubtedly made things a little difficult for Suzuki, however many of their pairings together were equally traumatic due to deliberate studio ploys. It might not be such a surprise then that Ike gets a little less screen time, while Miki gets a romantic sub-plot all to herself.
| Speaking of which this is only used primarily as a means to exact revenge, which is ultimately what these films are about. The central love theme revolves around Sugimoto’s character and a boxer named Miyazaki who has dreams of becoming a champion. It’s horribly clichéd at times and whizzes by at quite a rate, however despite a few shortcomings it’s played poignantly and turns out to be a tragic exercise, with Miki channelling her emotions exceptionally well considering how much she actually has to do here. In fact the majority of lead girls cope very well with their adolescent portrayals, even though several of them don’t have enough screen time due to obvious time limitations. In the end Suzuki decides to shift his attention once more to provide a gruelling, rapid assault of blood and torture which does more to throw the film off balance, yet still deliver a memorable outcome.
Girl Boss Guerrilla might not be overly forceful in its underlying themes and social comments and its storyline might not be the most captivating ever, but nevertheless it carries with it multiple layers that ensure it has tremendous replay value.
Criminal Woman: Killing Melody (1973).
Starring: Reiko Ike, Chiyoko Kazama, Masami Soda, Yumiko Katayama, Shinzo Hotta, Seiya Sato, Keiichi Kitagawa, Ryoji Hayama, Takeo Chii and Miki Sugimoto.
Directed by Atsushi Mihori.
| After attempting to kill Yakuza Boss Oba (Ryoji Hayama) in an act of revenge for her deceased father Maki (Reiko Ike) is sent to prison. There she meets a quirky group of women: Yukie, Natsuko and Kaoru and quickly they become friends after an initial ropey start. Whilst at the prison Maki meets her match in the form of Masayo (Miki Sugimoto) who challenges her immediately to a fight, after which the pair grow to understand one another. Upon their release a year later the four girls band together and devise a plot to get the Oba gang and their rival the Hamayasu, led by the mad dog Tetsu (Takeo Chii) to wage a final war against one another. Maki’s plan is to face Oba once and for all, but standing in her way is not only his henchmen, but his woman Masayo.
As with Delinquent Girl Boss: Worthless to Confess Criminal Woman stages its first act at a woman’s prison, where we get to know the characters before they’re released a few years later to amend their lifestyle – I mean kill people. The great thing about Criminal Woman is that it's so unapologetically nasty; forget any morals here, revenge is great and no one here will have you think any differently in this straightforward flick. The only clear message here is that violence breeds violence, so as long as you’re in the right frame of mind you should enjoy this tale of bad girls vs. bad guys.
Helming the picture this time is Atsushi Mihori, making his directorial debut - and only film to date it seems - which although is tagged “Zenka Onna” (Zero Woman) merely feels like a lighter forerunner to the more successful Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs, which incidentally starred Miki Sugimoto and took the lone female heroine to another level. This time we have the 10th magical pairing of Ike and Sugimoto, who continue to outstrip each other (sometimes literally) onscreen. Despite their on/off troubles behind the scenes the pair undoubtedly carry each other well, and none is more so evident in this collection than Criminal Woman. As the film twists and turns - admittedly surprisingly at one stage - the duo manage to flit between being at loggerheads to becoming allies exceptionally well. Furthermore they just really get into their roles; they’re extremely physical on several occasions which amount to little more than having fierce slapsies, whilst rolling around in dirt and flashing the odd knife. Mihori likes to draw out these confrontations and by doing so he pulls us in enough for us to appreciate the exhaustive efforts of those participating.
|Staying true to the series Mihori does what is called for when presenting the final act and a couple of moments leading up to it: prostitution, extortion, rape and torture, which includes gleeful chainsaw mayhem and plenty of Yakuza to foil. With all of this it spreads out its exploitative parts in a similar manner as Delinquent Girl Boss, even using comedy to good effect, although it’s mainly dominant during the prison act. But like the films before it Criminal Woman stays suitably fantastical and doesn’t make any effort to explain some of the sillier parts strung throughout, such as Maki suddenly becoming an ace marksman; then we have the surprising, albeit ludicrous twist that lures the baddies into her final trap. Still, Criminal Woman is a solid entry into the genre and excels because of its simplicity and care free nature.|
Terrifying Girls’ High School: Lynch Law Classroom (1973).
Starring: Miki Sugimoto, Hope-Shigeru Sato, Seiko Saburi, Yuko Kano, Misuzu Ota, Ryoko Ema, Rie Saotome, Yuko Mizusawa, Yukiko Asano, Nobuo Kaneko, Hiroshi Nawa, Kenji Imai and Reiko Ike.
Directed by Norifumi Suzuki.
| The School of Hope is a place where troubled girls can learn to become disciplined in order to live rich and fuller lives, or so it would seem. This is one school that manages to use the most unorthodox methods of training and in charge of handing out punishment for naughty girls is the disciplinary committee, assigned by corrupt Vice principal Ishihara (Kenji Imai). When a girl is murdered by the committee and falls from the school rooftop the police dismiss it as an accident, despite her nakedness which is never even brought into question, and why? Because Ishihara has them eating out of his pocket. In addition he keeps Chief of school board Sato (Nobuo Kaneko) under his thumb by supplying him with fresh young girls. Soon three juveniles, Noriko (Miki Sugimoto), Remi (Misuzu Ota) and Kyoko (Seiko Saburi) are sent to the School of Hope due to their petty crimes. Noriko soon learns that the girl who died at the hands of the disciplinary committee was none other than her old friend, which then forces her to take matters into her own hands by finding out the truth behind this crime and many others taking place under her very nose. She finds help in the form of a reporter whose interests lies primarily in making a fast buck and manages to avoid a deadly confrontation with an old rival (Reiko Ike), who has just driven into town to settle a score.
This time around Reiko Ike takes a noted back seat for what is essentially a starring vehicle for Miki Sugimoto. In fact it isn’t until past the half way mark that Ike rides in on a motorcycle, wearing tight leather pants. Soon we learn that she’s Miki’s enemy for this film, but of course the friendly smiles and banter and willingness to help each other doesn’t quite strike up the fierceness that we might have expected otherwise. With both girls playing hard as nails parts it’s at least interesting to watch the back and forth rebellious nature of the two, and more importantly given their backgrounds the respect toward each other that is evidently apparent.
The second in the Terrifying Girl’s High School series, Lynch Law Classroom opens unlike any of the other features in the collection by presenting a disclaimer which assures us that all persons and events in the story are fictitious, so it’s covered its own back should any of its content begins to upset the education board. I’m sure it probably did anyway. Following on from this we hear a jarring scream coming from the latest victim of the Hope School, by way of exsanguination. It’s the most unsettling scene of the feature, largely because of the way it’s drawn out, along with the very desperate portrayal of the sufferer; it sets up what is going to be a nasty, yet fun film that doesn’t outstay its welcome.
|So Norifumi-san, you mad old dog. I don’t know what the hell he was trying do here, having come up with his own concoction of humour, horror and nudey antics. As far as exploitation goes it’s clear that the director continually wishes to take things further, and to be frank terrifying would be the right word for this final, sadistic and seedy entry into the “Pinky Violence Collection”. You see the girls of the disciplinary committee aren’t normal; they’re ruthless harlots who love to come up with all kinds of terrible torture schemes for the sake of school honour. It’s gonna take some very special ladies to dish out the slaps and who better than The Boss with the Cross, Razorblade Remi, Junko the Jacker and Nobue the Pipe Basher? Yes it’s all very amusing and too cool for school, which is what makes it so damn entertaining. When we’re not seeing some flinching scenes of torture we’re viewing downright dirty soft porn between high school girls and the majority of the school committee made up of horny old men. “Oh they’re in skirts too!” they cry in joy as one scene sees them being lured in a dark room where upon a group of girls cajole them, before taking compromising photos. Nobody escapes the ridicule and embarrassment that is handed out every ten minutes: Teachers, students, principals, policemen, yakuza; everyone is but a pawn and there are no winners in such a disgustingly corrupt society that’s simply beyond reproach. Certainly Suzuki touches upon certain subjects; the idea of a corrupt education system that tries to teach young girls how to live properly is interesting, though to be perfectly honest I’m in no way inclined to sit back and defend any of it. It’s simply trash and bloody good trash at that. Oh and there are lesbians too.|
Panik House has stressed that the “The Pinky Violence Collection” is limited to 10,000 and will not be re-pressed when stocks run out. Now we know limited edition in the past has usually meant it’ll be off the shelves for a year before making a return, but the company here seems perfectly adamant that it is set to remain a collector’s piece. If you won’t take my word for it then take theirs:
”The day we've all been waiting for is finally upon us. The Pinky Violence Collection is released! Two thirds of these 5 disc box sets (limited to 10,000 copies) were sold before they even shipped, so it's only a matter of time before they are completely gone, and when they are, they are gone for good!
I have always felt strongly that people should be rewarded for buying early -not punished, so I've made this item as collectible as possible: there will be no re-press of this particular box set - EVER!”.
I have to say though, if ever a limited edition set was worth owning then it’s this one. They have indeed put out a splendid little package that looks like a glossy, neon pink book from the outset. Inside reveals four discs in individual plastic trays, a booklet by Chris. D which appears to be more informative than during his time spent on the commentaries, and a sticker. You’ll also find an exclusive CD of remixed Reiko Ike songs, which comes housed in its own card slip. Sadly I was never sent one of these discs, which is a shame as it was one of the things I was really looking forward to. So while I can’t bring you my thoughts on the CD it sounds like it is most defiantly worth a listen.
Because the transfers here look remarkably similar to one another I have decided to simply review them in a single go. Each film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and have been anamorphically enhanced. The prints used are restored Toei negatives, and for a selection of thirty-plus year old films they look damn impressive. It’s warming to see such features being looked after so well, it’s even better to see a solid commitment from a R1 distributor who are making them look as good as possible on DVD, well for the most part. Aliasing and Edge Enhancement aside these films have a tremendously colourful palette that just screams 70’s kitsch. These films should look as groovy as possible, even when entering the slummy side of the underworld. Thankfully Panik House has got things just about right in terms of colour; black levels are particularly solid and contrasts look about right, when comparing them from several other features from the time. It seems that they’ve been presented in the way that they were meant to be seen, which can only be applauded. A shame that a couple of problems crop up, but a fine treatment nonetheless.
Sound wise we get all we could possibly want, in the form of sweet, sweet Japanese 2.0 mono. Panik House once again deserves praise for knowing exactly how to present these films properly. They’ve totally ignored any unnecessary 5.1 remixes and false DTS and simply provided us with the original tracks, with pops, cracks and all. In all honesty there’s very little to worry about. The occasional pop rears its head but the instances are so are that they won’t spoil your enjoyment in any way. The music is handled nicely and keeps a constant groovy beat, while the occasional moment of percussion offers a surprising amount of ambience. Dialogue is never a problem, only becoming drowned out on occasion during a heavy action scene or musical moment, but from listening it appears to be merely down to the original source, so I’m not going to fault that at all.
English subtitles are offered for each film and they are removable. These read very well, are nicely timed and aside from the odd punctuation error I spotted hardly any problems.
Delinquent Girl Boss and Lynch Law Classroom feature commentaries by Chris. D, who despite being an authoritarian figure on Japanese cinema offers very little to us in-between long silences and pointing out obvious things like electric scoring or that these are sexploitation flicks with a little bit of social commentary, at least he gives a little actor info, but again nothing differs much when he's talking about Sugimoto and Ike. On occasion he raises some good points in terms of symbolic content, particularly in relation to Suzuki’s offerings. But for the most part these are quite useless tracks and they do little to expand upon what D already talked about on Sex & Fury and Female Yakuza Tale. The big problem I had with the Angel Guts Collection and this though is repetition. Why provide more tracks than you need? They only end up covering the exact same ground and there’s nothing mentioned that we haven’t already figured out for ourselves. Sorry to Chris. D and anyone else who might feel a bit disappointed by my remarks; I don’t doubt your knowledge on the subjects at hand, but quite frankly it can become a bit of a chore to sit through them. I’d be more than happy with one solid track over four any day. In fact if Chris. D did only do one track then I might not feel quite as let down as I do now.
Film critics Andy Klein and Wade Major turn up for Criminal Woman. We get some nice comparisons to western exploitation films, such as Blaxploitation and the music that surfaced in those films, as well as offerings from Hong Kong. These two eagerly highlight the way in which feminism is portrayed throughout and really get into the era and talk about several riding factors. They’re also enjoying themselves a lot and come across as being very laid back, which makes for a fresh change of pace. There isn’t a huge amount of information being relayed here though, not enough to flesh out the film exclusively and provide anything new behind its production. Finally we have cinema columnist Wyatt Doyle and Panik House president Matt Kennedy on Girl Boss Guerrilla. This proves to be the best track of the four because it is actually well researched. Both participants explain why certain locations are used for shooting, how Suzuki structures his films and how he depicts society, but ultimately how he just wants to use any device in order to get these girls out of their kits as soon as possible. We get some bits and pieces about cast and crew, rivalries and Toei which proves to be interesting, making this a decent inclusion.
Original Theatrical Trailers
Each film comes with its own lengthy cinema trailer, which have even been remastered and presented anamorphically. Steer clear though if you wish to avoid some spoilers.
Each film also comes with the following features:
Posters & Still Galleries
These are all very brief, some of which have no more than 15 pictures in total, but what’s there is nice enough to view. The quality of these photos is excellent and it’s nice to see some poster designs; I wish they had actually used some of the original poster art for previous releases. The pictures could probably do with being larger, as it stands they have a bit of a border around them, but they’re welcome additions.
These prove to be a little pointless, mainly due to a large portion of them just being synopsis material. Chris. D mentions a couple of trivia bits but spends of the time writing about what happens from start to finish.
Director & Star Bios
Some of these are very brief, others are lengthy but they manage to contain some decent information on the major directors and stars involved. You’ll find that some are just carried over when it comes to the likes of Norifumi Suzuki, Miki Sugimoto and Reiko Ike.
So what have we learned from the “Pinky Violence Collection” other than revenge is brilliant? We’ve learned that not every Japanese school girl wears white panties; that society is generally rubbish and that even though drugs are bad they’re probably worth taking anyway. Policemen are hopeless, religion is a farce, love is overrated and frolicking naked girls brandishing swords are the best thing ever.
Panik House just managed to squeeze this into 2005 and ended up showcasing a collection that could finally stand proud next to Arts Magic’s Angel Guts Nikkatsu Collection. There has been all too few companies willing to put out products like this, but it’s comforting to know that those who have decided to dedicate themselves to Japanese exploitation cinema have made sure to release them with the respect that they so deserve. Indeed the collection as a whole feels a little cobbled together, with each film merely being a taster of a bigger series, although without a doubt they are all wonderfully energetic and mad; the extras which are not as comprehensive as they could have been at least offer a few titbits (some rude, pun type thing) worth savouring. Panik House is currently working on its 2006 line-up which is set to include the entire “Sukeban” series. Well I can’t wait to see what they do with future releases because so far things are just peachy.
Last updated: 19/04/2018 06:43:27