Lady Hunter: Prelude To Murder (Japan 1991)

Rating: **
Review Date: 7/9/18
Director: Takashi Miike
Cast: Yoshie Kashiwabara

Saeko Ishigaki (Yoshie Kashiwabara) is an ex-Special Forces soldier living in a condemned building in Japan. One night, her ex-boyfriend comes to her with a young boy, while being chased by a group of foreign soldiers. They want both the boy and his mother, and Saeko refuses to hand him over. What follows is a tense home invasion showdown, followed by Saeko taking the fight back to the kidnappers.

Generally considered Takashi Miike's first movie, it's a slick looking low budget affair with a fantastic kick-ass female protagonist. Yoshie Kashiwabara has no trouble taking charge of any situation, and she looks great doing it. This results in some interesting gender politics, as Saeko's ex tells her that the reason he couldn't marry her is because she's better at everything than he is, and he evidently couldn't live with that shame. Miike throws in some of his trademark fetishism (bondage, nudity, homosexuality, etc.), which is visually jarring and only succeeds in derailing the story. The film moves along at a brisk and steady pace, which is unusual for Japanese cinema, and the sucker-punch ending caught me completely off guard.