Okatsu The Fugitive (Japan 1969)

Rating: **
Review Date: 10/26/08
Director: Nobuo Nakagawa
Cast: Junko Miyazono, cameo by Reiko Oshida

This disappointing and confusing follow-up to "Quick-Draw Okatsu" (1969) is a sequel in name only, as it has absolutely nothing to do with the previous film. The title in particular is very misleading, as it implies the continuation of Okatsu's flight from persecution. Instead, we get an unrelated story about a woman who just happens to have the same name as the woman from the previous film, and just happens to also be a master of the same style of swordplay. The first thirty minutes are extremely confusing if you're trying to relate the two films in any way. I kept expecting it to be a dream sequence or something. It's not.

Anyway, even though the character's name is the same and several of the same actors are involved, it has nothing to do with the other films in the Poisonous Seductress series. If anything, it only echoes the same theme of a wronged woman with revenge on her mind. This time around, Okatsu Makabe (Junko Miyazono) is the daughter of a respected official and about to be married. Unfortunately, her wedding is postponed indefinitely when her family is murdered and her groom-to-be falls in with the wrong crowd. So Okatsu picks up her sword and heads to Edo for revenge.

The film looks gorgeous for the most part, but some of the sets look overly artificial and betray possible budget constraints. The least bloody of the films, it tries to make up for the lack of sex and violence with humor, which doesn't work at all. Impossibly cute Reiko Oshida shows up again, but this time as a goofy orphan girl who has nothing to do with the plot. Junko Miyazono's intensity continues to tear up the screen and her swordplay is quite enjoyable. In addition to burning with rage, she's also quite accomplished as a seductress, and her turn as a traveling geisha in a country inn is intoxicating. Unfortunately, the film never seems to gel as a whole and the result is ultimately unsatisfying.