Saturday, 17 January 2015

Girl Boss Guerilla

Sukeban gerira; action/ crime/ erotic, Japan, 1972; D: Norifumi Suzuki, S: Miki Sugimoto, Reiko Ike, Ryoko Ema, Emi Jo

Sachiko, the leader of an all-female motorbike gang Red Helmets, arrives in Kyoto and decides to take over all other gangs there. Little by little, she takes over. During a fight with a rival gang leader, Nami, they become friends. They use numerous tricks to extract money from people, such as ordering one girl to have sex with a respectable man, then secretly taking photos of them and blackmailing him into paying a million Yen not to publish them. However, they thereby interfere with the "big fish", the all-male Yakuza, led by Nami's brother Nakahara. When the Yakuza kill Sachiko's boyfriend, boxer Ichiro, because he did not want to cooperate, Sachiko goes on a revenge spree: she plants a time bomb and thus kills the Yakuza members driving in a car.

"Girl Boss Guerilla" is a prime example of the popular "Pinky movies" subgenre in Japan of the 60s and 70s, when the exploitation films ever so often danced on the verge of allowed rules of the censors and indulged into the erotic, crime and adult themes which were suppressed and prohibited just a decade ago. Precisely because they so openly showed so much, the viewers perceived them as liberating and "wild", yet they rarely offered a certain quality blend of these elements. Director Norifumi Suzuki shows truly all kinds of bizarre and comical situations of the misadventures of an all-female gang: for instance, already in the opening, a girl on a motorbike unzips her jacket and shows her right breast, which has a red rose tattoo on it signalling her allegiance to the Red Helmet gang; a bald girl, Okei, goes to a doctor, who observes her genitalia and comments how she is "hairier down there than on her head"; another girl goes to a priest for a confession, only to seduce him and have sex with him, but when he later admits he has clap, she makes the best of it and sleeps with four Yakuza members in order to infect them as well... A lot of this is indeed stupid, silly, banal and juvenile, but at the same time, one cannot shake the impression of how pure and honest it is, showing, just like S. Imamura, a so often ignored world of the lower class and raw, elementary human emotions. Also, Suzuki gives a sly allegory of feminism (an all-female gang against the all-male Yakuza) and never pretends to be anything more pretentious than a simple example of relaxed pulp, a 'guilty pleasure', whereas the cult actress Miki Sugimoto is excellent as the feisty gang leader.

Grade;++

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