Super Gun Lady Wani Bunsho (Japan 1979)

Rating: *
Alternate Title: Super Gun Lady: Police Branch 82
Review Date: 4/23/21
Cast: Emi Yokoyama, Kaoru Janbo

Mika (Emi Yokoyama) is a police officer in the special "Alligator Branch" division. It's not clear what their function is, but I'm guessing they deal with extra dangerous cases that the regular police can't handle. The lack of subtitles certainly doesn't help, and there are no contextual clues to provide any insight. The film opens with Mika inexplicably crashing her car into someone's house, and then staggering home where she proceeds to get naked while the opening credits play. That definitely sets the tone and it just gets weirder from there. She's initially assigned to watch after an important figure who ends up getting killed by a couple of thugs who drain his blood and throw him off of a tall building. Her boss is infuriated, and assigns a woman named Rin (Kaoru Janbo) to be her partner. When they try to bust up a narcotics ring, the pair are chased down by a motorcycle gang and Mika is captured, drugged, raped, tortured, shot, and left for dead in a landfill. Miraculously, Rin manages to rescue her in the nick of time, but Mika's suffering is far from over as she goes through heroin withdrawal and tries to regain her sanity and grip on reality. The final act involves a seemingly pointless bank robbery by a trio of psychopaths who seem more interested in raping and killing hostages than anything else. When negotiations with the police fail, Mika and Rin somehow slip into the bank and a bizarre close quarters gunfight goes down. Mika and Rin save the day at the cost of many lives, and even manage to exact some revenge before taking a well-earned vacation at the beach.

It's hard to find any information on this film, but it's presumably the first adaptation of the "Wani Bunsho" manga that was popular in the 1970's. There have been at least three wildly different sequels/remakes since then, including "The Metropolitan Police Branch 82" (1995), "The New Metropolitan Police Branch 82" (1998), and "The Metropolitan Police Branch 82 - Rebirth" (2001). In each version, the characters of Mika and Rin are radically different. In this film, Mika is a loose cannon with a bad attitude and a reckless lifestyle. She's a dangerous and effortlessly sexy woman who comes across as more of a delinquent thug than a police officer. Rin is a loud-mouthed and aggressive woman who is built like a wrestler and is an expert fighter. Naturally, the two of them don't get along at first, but despite their differences, they come through for each other in the end.

Unfortunately, while the film suffers from a disjointed plot, poor camera work, and haphazard direction, it's also just inexcusably mean and nasty. It revels in sadism, misogyny, and humiliation as was popular during the "pinky violence" era of the 70's, and everything about it is unpleasant. Emi Yokoyama delivers an outstanding performance, but the amount of abuse that she endures is unbearable and sickening to watch. Kaoru Janbo also gives a good performance, but her character fails to be engaging and she feels like a sidekick throughout. The action scenes are weak, amateurish, and visually confusing, although there are a couple of interesting car stunts. As is often the case in Japanese cinema, the gunplay borders on the absurd and makes no sense. Overall, the film is an ugly mess and leaves a bad taste. It starts out strong with the promise of a fierce and sexy female police officer taking care of business, but rapidly devolves into senseless torture porn.