It's another Pinky Violence film starring Reiko Ike and Miki Sugimoto. It's nowhere near as great as the one I watched on Wednesday, but it's still worth a look.
Our heroines are biker chicks. They ride around in a gang and acquire money by criminal means, e.g. prostitution, stealing from donation boxes or volunteering to take someone's picture and then demanding cash for the return of their camera. They'll do blackmail and they're extremely violent, albeit mostly to each other. You get the idea. They're low-level gangsters, basically, with their own (low) niche in the criminal pecking order and a bit of a yakuza problem. Whenever they blag/steal/extort some money, the yakuza are likely to show up and take it as "dues" or "fees" or something.
I didn't like them much, although it's mildly surprising that I found them tolerable at all. It helps that we see their internal disagreements, with squabbles over ethics and challenges to the previous gang boss. Some of them (Miki Sugimoto) are rigid in their "honour among thieves" code. Some are a bit more eccentric in their interpretations, but still basically trustworthy (Reiko Ike). Others are trouble.
Furthermore, the magnitude of their crimes will be tailored to how much the victim deserves it. Attempted sexual harrassment will merely get you beaten up. (This one you'll approve of. Those guys at the start were annoying.) An innocent passer-by might get scammed for only a hundred yen. A hypocritical monk banging a nun can be blackmailed for a million yen. A fellow biker who sold you out to the yakuza might get chained up and dragged along face-down behind your bike (ouch), while you've got to be a yakuza and to have done something unforgiveable to get Sugimoto and Ike responding with lethal force.
They also get naked a fair bit. It is Pinky Violence, after all. My favourite was what I'll call the Topless Parliament.
It's low-key, compared with some of the other Pinky Violence films I've seen. The girls are practically pottering. There's eventually revenge, yes, but we're nearly an hour into the film before the yakuza do the thing that makes it necessary. Until then, they're just dicks. They swagger around, treat the girls as inferiors and take their money. That first hour is mostly just a gangster film so modest in its scope that it doesn't feel odd to have a romantic subplot between Sugimoto and a boxer. Relationships are important in this film. There's Sugimoto, her boxer and all of the complicated loyalties within the biker gang, of course, but also Reiko Ike is the sister of one of the gangsters. The boxer has a childhood friend who's got it just as tough as him. The boxer's trainer has a beloved daughter.
Then there are everyone's relationships with the yakuza. This isn't an "all-out war" yakuza film. The bad guys will simply show up and talk. They have history with the other characters and they're a problem that everyone's been living with for years, not just the duration of this movie.
Then, even when the revenge gets going, it's unimpressive. Miki Sugimoto takes a while to start thinking about what she's doing. She's an idiot, frankly. This gives the yakuza a chance to be brutal and shocking, but even so you'll be singing "your own stupid fault". However Sugimoto pulls it all back at the end, with a clever way to get her own back that's twice as delicious because the men spot what could have been a fatal flaw in the plan... and then pay it no attention. Hahahaha, suckers. Welcome to a deserved death.
There are points of interest:
(a) The film seems to have a thing about hypocritical religious figures. There's a bike-stealing nun who joins the gang and two fornicating men of the cloth (one a Buddhist monk, the other a Catholic priest).
(b) The incompetent nymphomaniac prostitute is amusing, especially when the girls find a way of playing a cruel trick on yakuza by having her have sex with a queue of them.
(c) Sugimoto and that boxer are kind of disturbing. I can see that it's meant to be characterisation, mind you. Sugimoto is a tattooed mean-as-hell biker chick. The boxer can beat up a bunch of yakuza single-handedly and I presume the filmmakers don't want him to look unmanly (whatever that meant in Japan in 1972). Thus when Sugimoto is saying she's going to rape him, he eventually jumps on her, tears off her clothes and says that if anyone's going to do any raping around here, it'll be him. (The English subtitles take a few liberties at this point, but the Japanese dialogue is saying "rape".) Later he and Sugimoto start hitting each other. This should have been deeply uncomfortable... but somehow the actors make it work. He's quite a sweet, good-natured lad, whereas Sugimoto's Sugimoto. As ever, she's like a shark that's climbed up on land and is staring at you. Anyone less forceful than this boxer, she'd have eaten alive.
(d) There's an ill-advised scene with a gynaecologist that I presume was meant to be funny.
(e) Boxer Trainer Dude, whoah. Way to talk to yakuza.
(f) They cast an actor with a perfect face as the yakuza boss. He's a smug, heavyweight reptile.
It's a decent film. Not brilliant, but good enough. I was only disappointed (a bit) because I've seen other Pinky Violence films and been annihilated by them. It makes a few odd decisions, but I like the way that these Pinky Violence movies are practically chick flicks, despite being about gangsters and their brutal ways. It gets downright nasty near the end. Nonetheless Sugimoto is being asked to stretch her range further than normal and does surprisingly well, selling a lot of character development and a problematic relationship without sacrificing her essential Sugimoto-ness. Once again, it's the women who get to do the emotional heavy lifting, but the men aren't overshadowed and there's some nice work done with them too. I'm thinking of Reiko Ike's brother and everyone in the boxer's world.
Don't hunt it down, but watch it if it comes on TV. It's solid, in its way, and it has topless tattooed Japanese biker chicks beating the yakuza.
"Just because you have photos, that isn't proof."