Bohachi Bushido: Code Of The Forgotten Eight (Japan 1973)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 5/13/18
Director: Teruo Ishii
Cast: Tetsuro Tanba, Goro Ibuki, Yuriko Hishimi

Based on Kazuo Koike's manga about a nihilistic ronin named Shino Ashita (Tetsuro Tanba) who is tired of life and throws himself off a bridge in an attempt to kill himself. Much to his disappointment, he is rescued by the immoral and decadent Bohachi Clan, and resuscitated back to life by having two naked women rub against him. Hey, whatever works. The Bohachi want to use Shino's exceptional killing skills to further their political ambitions and strengthen their prostitution business. He has no choice but to accept, and ruthlessly butchers all of the Bohachi's competition. Naturally, the Bohachi want Shino out of the way after he finishes the job, but Shino is no fool and anticipates their inevitable betrayal.

Like most of Koike's work, the story is erotically charged and outrageously violent. Heads and limbs fly about with reckless abandon, and there are several satisfying blood geysers on display. But what's even more shocking is the amount of sex and nudity, as the sex-starved women in the film simply can't keep their clothes on. As far as grindhouse and pinky violence standards go, it's handled artfully and the cinematography is fantastic. The film is nasty by nature, but director Teruo Ishii offsets that with a self-aware sense of absurdity. Things get really weird in the final act, which is an opium fuelled orgy of sex and violence, awash in bright saturated colors and dizzying camerawork. The ending is vague and ambiguous, but I'm guessing Shino finally gets what he's looking for. Tetsuro Tanba does an adequate job as the cynical and sour Shino, but as a man in his fifties, he looks much too old to play the part. However, he is still physically fit and his swordplay is quick and precise. Yuriko Hishimi plays the main Bohachi woman Oman, and she is stunning to behold. Ishii insisted on her being in the film and even raised her pay and expanded her role to bring her onboard. She's a radiant treasure and the film benefits greatly from her participation.