Operation: Pussycat Review

The Film

Three private dancers (Kei Mizutani, Nao Eguchi and Yukari Fukawa) are driving along a seaside village in a truck, when suddenly they’re stopped by a policeman who informs them they’ve been speeding. When he examines the contents underneath a sheet in the back of the truck and finds the body of the vehicle’s owner, the girls kill him and leave him lying on the roadside. Just then a young girl drives by, whom they believe witnessed the attack, and so they set out to kill her as well before she can report it. Heading to a nearby gas station, they soon learn from the attendant that the girl, named Kotori (Chiharu Muraishi), lives as a slave out on a hill top with a heavy-set mute named Kashituka and a wealthy old crippled man. When the busty trio arrives in a bid to stamp out Kotori’s life they soon hatch a plan to take the old man’s fortune, whilst learning of the reason behind Kotori‘s entrapment. Worst still, they can’t even seem to get along amongst themselves, ensuring one immediate disaster after the next. Things are looking strange indeed.

Clearly from the synopsis Operation: Pussycat is an unashamed pastiche remake homage to Russ Meyer’s 1965 sexploitation classic Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that concept, except that here it slightly falls short of actually offering anything quite so zesty, tongue-in-cheek and boob-tastic. For all its effort in trying to capture an era Operation: Pussycat feels a bit restrained through and through, and, although close to Meyer’s ideals, it misses its chance to greater capitalise on the director’s iconographic visions of violence and female empowerment; yes, the girls kick arse, but there is a certain lack of conviction on the part of Honda’s unlively direction and stilted editing. And for for a V-Cinema release starring the bountiful cult starlet Kei Mizutani, you’d have expected Honda to have gotten a little more wild with his female antagonists, with whom he all but teases us with. In saying that the source of its inspiration was something of a rarity in itself, due to being one of the very few Meyer films that didn’t fully expose its female casts’ bouncy bon-bons. But still, come on - it’s Kei Mizutani! In all seriousness though, it’s not something that would have made a huge amount of difference.

It’s not particularly easy to see what Honda is trying to achieve here exactly; he puts none of his own ideas on the table and as far as parodying is concerned it’s something which is hard to do off the back of Meyer’s own work, in that he was hardly making serious movies himself to begin with. The biggest hurdle that Honda faces, however, is that his story lacks focus. Although during the sixties and seventies a lot of exploitation flicks recycled fairly similar storylines, thus having that air of predictability about them, they nonetheless had a sensible enough narrative for the audience to follow. So while we were never expected to demand too much of it, Operation: Pussycat could have at least made some sort of effort, moreso in that the kind of satire which was banded about in many Meyer movies, not to mention a large majority of Japanese flicks, still holds true to a large extent today. Instead the director loosely throws us into what already feels like the middle of some bigger story. There’s no set-up; we never learn why the girls have a body in the back of their truck, save for an ambiguous explanation of sorts at the end concerning Mizutani’s character - which even then feels oddly tacked on for no reason - and he basically seems interested in simply connecting one intermittent act after the other in the hope that it all pans out. But we never know, much less care where everything is headed and who these people are. And try as he might to spice things up, not even alluded lesbianism is enough to keep interests afloat.

Nevertheless, Operation: Pussycat is a slightly fun, if incredibly average romp, whereby we’re given three lovely looking ladies - and it’s always nice to see Mizutani back on our screens - dressed in tight outfits, getting into random catfights amongst themselves and strutting their finely shaped figures all across town, before everything ends in fairly miserable fashion. Mizutani herself takes it all in her stride, going along for the ride and obviously acknowledging the ridiculousness of it all, which is perhaps nothing more than the director intended. His cast, which also includes Gravure Idol Chiharu Muraishi and Kekko Kamen‘s Nao Eguchi do their best with the material on hand, while his regular collaborator Geru Matsuishi provides a suitably kitsch psychedelic score.



MVD Visual’s release of Operation: Pussycat is a bit rubbish really. Delivered in non-anamorphic 1.78:1 and with burnt English subtitles, the image hardly jumps out at you. Colours are fairly washed out, although to be fair Honda doesn’t inject too much life into the film, past some kitschy gear, with most of the action taking place in a small town. In terms of it being shot on DV, then, it doesn’t initially look much worse off than the majority of similarly produced features. Contrast is acceptable, aliasing is unsurprisingly present and, yes, it’s interlaced.

Sound is a little better, not too problematic and offering a clear DD representation. It’s mostly dialogue driven, and aside from volume levels being a little low there are no major concerns such as drop-outs and the like. I don’t like subtitles being forced onto the print with any foreign film, and it certainly doesn’t help here when we have a few grammatical errors and awkwardly translated lines, especially toward the end with talk of drilling shells inside vagina type malarkey.


A trailer for the film.


I suppose at the end of the day Operation: Pussycat isn’t pretending to be anything other than a silly homage to Russ Meyer’s work, but then neither does it really match it either. Though lacking in vision there is a little bit of fun to be had from Ryuichi Honda’s exceedingly low budget production, which clocks in at just 43 minutes in length, and that it’s fairly inexpensive means that it’s not a title you need worry breaking into your wallet for.

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