Sukeban Boy Review

The Film

Competently delivered shameless filth is in short supply these days. Just catch our recent reviews for exploitation movies like Zombies Vs Strippers. This kind of film is in danger of becoming just as predictable and product like as the mainstream of cinema. The really bizarre and fun flicks that generated transgressive film-makers like Pedro Almodovar and John Waters don't seem to be around any more with talentless hacks with a shopping list of ideas inspired by cheap T&A the only available replacements.
This is why, like Kevin in his fine review(see sidepanel), I loved Machine Girl. It delivered on its central gag of a robocop sukeban and was unafraid to be tasteless and tacky. It also owed a whole raft of quality exploitation films a great debt, and it showed real warmth towards this heritage. It offered a wink to its audience that it was knowing trash in the same way that the best films of Norifumi Suzuki and Teruo Ishii are, and it blended the taboo and the hilarious much like those two directors have previously. Now, on review is Noburo Iguchi's earlier, cheaper and shorter film, Sukeban Boy.

What we have here is very like a prototype of Machine Girl, it has the same schoolgirl hero, dangerous breasts, and amputees galore. In this case the hero is a gender confused boy who is advised by his biker dad to join a new school dressed as a girl in order to stop being bullied for his apparent femininity.
This is the cue for socially awkward comedy, naked gang fights, and a transgendered love story. There is a plethora of lingering, artless nudity, and oodles of rampant gore. Nonsensical illogic overwhelms everything as the film-maker struggles to pull off outrageous scenes with very little in the way of money, and the values of low budget, shot on video, schlock are everywhere.

Like his later film, Iguchi succeeds with fantastic charm and a degree of counter cultural whimsy. After all the cartoon comings and goings, the movie resolves itself as a love story that knows no bounds - be they gender, sexuality or propriety. And these comings and goings are imaginative within the limited resources, being inspired by a real knowledge of genre movies. We get the "half naked girl gang", "naked monks", and transvestite bearded protectors for the hero/heroine. For all the gratuity, fisticuffs, sex changes, and limb lopping, romance and acceptance win out in possibly the most perverse happy ending that you will ever see.
Despite its adult nature, Sukeban Boy is really a pantomime where even evil can be saved by the love of a good ladyboy. That all life means is little other than a laugh and a leer is rather the point, and I like to think that if Shakespeare himself was a low budget film-maker, this is exactly the kind of populist poppycock he'd be churning out now (then I remember the British film industry's lack of imagination and verve and stop myself). Sukeban Boy is delirious and delicious, made with no money and a whole lotta love.

Transfer and Sound

Ryko's presentation of the film has many issues - it's not anamorphic, it is very very dark, and the film suffers from regular bouts of combing and bleeding colours. It is also a little soft, with instances of aliasing, compression artefacts and diagonal lines looking jagged, perhaps a scaling issue. This was an insanely cheap film to make so I suppose some credence needs to be given to that fact in judging the transfer, but this is by no means exceptionally good.
There is less to complain of in the sound, the stereo mix lacks some range and there is distortion on voices and music but nothing to impair your enjoyment of the film too much. The English subs are optional, grammatically correct but saddled with an ugly font.

Discs and Special Features

This is a single layer region free disc that comes in its own white box with cheesy, slightly camp artwork on the cover and the menu. Options on the disc are simple to find and the first one of note is a slightly drunken commentary including the director and Demo Tanaka, who played the lead's father. The two men enjoy a bit of banter and poke fun at each other, and the director talks about his homages to Toei and Go Nagai, the creator of Cutie Honey. Obviously it's a subbed commentary but the film is still easy to follow and good fun to enjoy the men's badinage.

The remix is all the weird bits in the film looped to some music and I don't know why you'd want that but here it is. The picture gallery is 20 images of the two female leads posing in costume, complete with band aids over the pubic area of one. The trailers for other Ryko products include Sars Wars, Happiness of the Katakuris, Killer Pussy, Oh My Zombie Mermaid and the main film.


Funny and a little wild, Sukeban Boy will entertain you if you liked Iguchi's Machine Girl. The Ryko disc has good English options and I imagine many potential buyers will overlook the video quality because of that fact.

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out of 10

Last updated: 27/05/2018 23:33:36

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