Review Date: 3/19/18
Cast: Reiko Ike, Christina Lindberg
"You can die at any time, but there's only one chance at life."
Taking place in Meiji Era Tokyo in 1905, Inoshika Ocho (Reiko Ike) is a pickpocket and a gambler whose father was brutally murdered when she was a young girl. For the last twenty years, she's been trying to track down the killers based on a cryptic clue left at the scene of the crime. As fate would have it, she gets into trouble with some powerful Yakuza types who just happen to be related to the case, and it isn't long before her sword tastes vengeance. A European spy played by Swedish sex star Christina Lindberg also shows up to complicate things for Ocho.
The 1970's were the pinnacle of sex-and-violence cinema in Japan, and depending on your criteria, "Sex And Fury" is arguably the best of the "pinky violence" genre. As you might expect, the film features a fair amount of sex and nudity, mostly in the form of rape and torture. While it can be unpleasant and uncomfortable to watch, the scenes are beautifully staged and shot, and not overly graphic. The revenge tale is reminiscent of "Lady Snowblood" (1973), and while Reiko Ike isn't as pretty or charismatic as Kaji Meiko, she possesses the same burning intensity and fierce defiance. She gives an incredible performance and her deadly gaze can burn a hole through your soul. The film features a number of impressively violent fight scenes, complete with arterial blood geysers and dismembered limbs. The most shocking scene is when Ocho is ambushed while taking a bath, and she proceeds to cut down a dozen bad guys in slow motion, while completely nude and in the snow. It's an amazing set piece and very well executed. What's perhaps even more shocking is that Reiko Ike was only twenty years old when she filmed it.
It's an exceedingly well made film, especially given its exploitive nature. The only thing that seems odd and out of place is the bizarre 70's rock soundtrack that plays during the climax. While the Japanese actors are very good, the European actors fall a little short, and it's awkward listening to them speak bad Japanese. But I suppose they should be given credit for trying, and it adds to the realism of the picture. In addition to speaking bad Japanese, Christina Lindberg also speaks bad English, which makes all of her dialog sound terrible. But truth be told, she wasn't cast for her acting talent. Overall, I found it to be an enjoyable and engaging adult oriented action film, and one worth checking out if you have any curiosity about the pinky violence era. And as an added bonus, it even has nuns with switchblades!